Homemade Bagels

A couple weeks ago, I decided I wanted to make bagels for New Years. I later learned that bagels (and other round, ring-shaped pastries) are a traditional New Years food. Apparently, rings symbolize the year coming full circle, as well as eternity. I wasn’t trying to be traditional, but apparently I am.

I did a bit of poking around on the internet to find a good bagel recipe, and I settled on this one from Epicurious.

I’m always skeptical of internet recipes, but I have to say, I was really happy with how these turned out. They were chewy, but not too dense and had a great bagel-y flavor. I made sesame, onion, and plain bagels, but so far I’ve only tried the plain ones. I’ve definitely had better bagels, but these might be the best I’ve had that weren’t from a bagel shop in the tri-state area.

Servings: 6 bagels
Time: 10 minutes to make dough, 1 hour rising, 5 minutes to shape, one night to rise, 30 minutes cooking

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 Tbl honey
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbl lukewarm water
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • Cooking spray

Poaching Liquid

  • 2-3 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 Tbl honey
  • 1 Tbl baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Toppings

  • Sesame seeds
  • Minced fresh onion

Directions

The Dough

  1. Stir the honey, yeast, and salt into the lukewarm water. Put the flour in a mixing bowl and stir in the honey/water mixture. Stir with a sturdy spoon for about 3 minutes. The dough should form a stiff, coarse ball. Add a small amount of water and keep stirring if the dough doesn’t bind together.
  2. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured work surface and knead by hand for another 3 minutes. The dough will be stiff and a bit on the dry side.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
  5. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray. Divide the dough into six equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a loose ball by rolling it on a clean countertop. Slightly moistening the countertop helps the dough stick together and form a ball.
  6. Form each dough ball into a ring by poking a hole in the center and stretching the hole to about 2″ in diameter.
  7. Place each bagel on the parchment paper, then spray the tops with cooking spray. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.

Cooking the Bagels

  1. Remove the bagels from the fridge 60 to 90 minutes before you plan to bake them.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500°F.
  3. Check whether the bagels are ready to bake using the “float test”: Drop a bagel in a small bowl of cold water. If it doesn’t float, shake it off and try again in 15 minutes. If it floats, it’s ready to cook.
  4. Fill a pot with 2 to 3 quarts of water, making sure the water is at least 3 inches deep. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Stir in the honey, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Gently lower each bagel into the poaching liquid (you can do as many at a time as will fit in the pot). After a minute turn over with a slotted spoon and poach for another 30 to 60 seconds. Return the poached bagels to the pan, domed side up and immediately sprinkle with toppings so they stick to the wet bagels. Make sure the parchment is oiled, or the bagels will stick to the parchment while baking.
  6. Transfer the pan of bagels to the oven, then lower the oven heat to 450°F.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and check the underside of the bagels. If they’re getting too dark, place another pan under the baking sheet. Check again in 5 more minutes. (Doubling the pan will insulate the first baking sheet.) After 5 more minutes (18 to 20 minutes total), the bagels should be golden brown. That means they’re done.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.

I ate mine with cream cheese and lox.

Homemade Bagel with Lox

Homemade plain bagel with cream cheese and lox

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