Of all the white carbs I adore, legit, chewy, fresh bagels have my whole heart. Maybe you’re thinking “why would I make them, when I can easily just buy them?” but you’ve been decieved! It’s actually really difficult to buy a legitimate bagel these days – the distinction being a bagel that is actually boiled before it’s baked. Even some large bagel chains have switched from poaching to steaming, which is so weak sauce! In order to achieve that super chewy texture that makes a bagel so much more special than circle shaped bread, they need to take a little bath in boiling water, trust me, it’s a difference you can taste. The cool bonus is that they are quite easy to make and don’t require any super secret ingredients. And think of how impressed the people at your table will be when you bust out these beauties! I cut, wrap in plastic, and freeze anything we don’t eat the first day then we eat them for weeks by throwing them in the microwave on defrost for a minute or so. I’m way to much of a bagel purist to ever toast a bagel (BLASPHEME!) But I won’t judge you if you choose to warm yours up that way, this is assuming of course that you have any left after the first day….
6-7 cups white bread flour (I’ve used all purpose flour with great results, bread flour just makes a little smoother texture, it’s’ not essential)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon yeast – (I like this saf instant one that performs well mixed in with flour instead of needing to hang around in water)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar for poaching in water (the recipe uses malt, but I’ve never found that and sugar works beautifully)
- Combine the flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl. Start with 6 cups flour but be ready to add 7 depending on how much your dough will take. Add the sugar and oil to the water in a different bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid, mixing to a dough with a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Knead the dough either by hand or with a dough hook, trying to add more flour as it kneads- you actually want a quite dry dough vs. normal bread and yes, your dough will be stiff, but knead for a good 10 minutes until you have a really smooth, elastic dough. I use my kitchen-aid mixer with the dough hook and it takes about 11-12 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball, and put it into an oiled bowl (I just use my kitchen-aid one) turning once to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to rise for about 1 hour. It should be well risen, and when you poke it with your finger the impression should remain.
- Punch down the dough and give it a few kneads then divide it into 3 pieces. Using your hands roll each piece into a rope then cut each rope into 5 fairly even pieces. I line up my 3 ropes and cut with my pastry scraper that also helps me measure.
- Roll each piece into another rope and curl it around to form a ring. Seal the ends by over-lapping them a little and pinching them together – I usually dip one side in a little water.
- At this point put a large pot of water to boil and once it’s boiling add your sugar. Preheat your oven to 500 – I know it’s hot, but that’s what your bagels want!
- Set the bagel on baking sheets, cover with tea towels and leave for about 25 minutes by which time they should be puffy.
- To poach your bagels drop a couple at a time (I do 3-4 because I use a large pot) into the water and boil for only about 1 minute turning once. I use a slotted spoon for this which works great.
- As you poach them put them back on your baking sheet that is either oiled or has a silpat on it.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until they’re shiny and golden brown. Let cool for a good 10 minutes, but they are incredible served warm.
- Note: You are welcome to get creative with toppings etc. I like to sprinkle a coarse salt/flour mixture on some and it’s also yummy to do a cinnamon sugar/butter combo on top as well. If I have time I will even mix my last 5 with various things like chocolate chips, blueberries or cranberries before I boil them. They always turn out tasty but some of my combinations make them look a little busted. Do what sounds good to you!
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson How To Be a Domestic Goddess