I have always had a relatively warm relationship with bagels. I can go a little crazy with them for a while, then try to tone down my carb intake a bit if I start to get too out of hand with them (however successful that may be is debatable hehe!). To appease my latest hankering, I decided to try making them myself.
I vaguely knew that boiling was involved in bagel making, giving them that signature chewiness, but I never really paid much mind to the process. So, I started scouring the web for a deeper dive on the preparation and background of this classic breakfast item. I found that Bagels originated in the Jewish community of Poland, with the first mention dating back to 1610. The hole in the center not only allowed for more even cooking, it also made for easier transportation and display by stringing batches together.
Bagels are very popular in North America, with the two most well known being the New York and the Montreal styles. I recently traveled to Montreal and got to try one of their fabulous wood fired creations, which was definitely all that it was cracked up to be! However, since I do not have a wood fire oven in my home, I opted to experiment with the New York Style bagel. Both styles are fantastic, so you really can't go wrong with either choice.
New York Style Bagels
Yield: 12 medium-large size bagels
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 7 cups bread flour (plus a little more for kneading)
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 egg (optional)
- Course sea salt (for topping)
Combine the yeast and warm water and let it set for a few minutes before stirring. Once dissolved, add honey and stir until combined.
In a larger bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well shape in the middle of the heap and pour in the liquid contents. Start working the dough from the outside in, until it is firm and moist.
Transfer to a floured surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes. This also counts as a good arm workout for the day, so two birds with one stone, I say!
Place the dough back in the large bowl.
After it has risen for an hour, punch it down and allow it another 10 minutes to rise again before you start forming the bagels.
Break off pieces of dough according to the size you want your bagels to be. Keep in mind that they will get bigger when they cook.
Use a floured surface again to roll the balls to shape, then poke your thumb through the middle and work them into bagel shapes. After they are shaped, let them rise again for 10 more minutes.
While the shaped doughs are getting their last rise on, pre-heat your oven to 425 and bring a pot of water to a boil on the stovetop. Work in batches by placing several bagels in the boiling water. Batch sizes will depend on your pot size, as you will want to have enough room for them to float next to each other. Once your bagels are floating, time 2 minutes of boiling before flipping them over to boil 2 minutes more on the other side.
Remove from water and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Whisk the egg in a small bowl and brush the tops of the bagels with it, then sprinkle with sea salt. Pop in the oven for 25 minutes.