Homemade Bagels

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Homemade Bagels

The ultimate act of devotion, for the making the quintessential Jewish sandwich, is the homemade bagel. A praiseworthy task that cannot be accomplished in only 1 day, bagel making is part art and part ardor.

A word of caution before making homemade bagels. Your friends, family, and you, yourself will be spoiled forever and will never go back to purchased bagels. They are perfect paired with any toppings, such as cream cheese and lox.

Once you master baked bagels, do as the Montreal bageleries (I made that word up!) do, and bake your bagels in a wood fired oven or BBQ grill for a smoky flavor and uber crispy crust. 

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 12 4 ½ ounce bagels and 24 2 ¼ ounce mini bagelsServings

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour (see note below)
  • 2 ½ cups water, room temperature

Dough

  • ½ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3 ¾ cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
  • 2 ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar (see note below)
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • Cornmeal for dusting

Preparation

1. To make the sponge, stir yeast into flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. The mixture will form a delicate matrix that will double in size.

2. In the same mixing bowl add additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.

3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes. The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth.

4. Divide the dough into 4 ½ ounce pieces for standard bagels, or 2 ¼ ounce pieces for mini bagels.

5. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

6. Shape the bagels: Roll the dough into 8-inch long ropes, wrap it around your hand, and then seal the ends together, or, form the dough into a “bun” shape, poke a hole in the middle, and work your fingers in the hole to widen it slightly. Spray the bagels with cooking spray and cover with a towel to rise for about 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight to bake the next day.

7. When you are ready to bake the bagels, preheat the oven to 500°F. with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water (I use a deep sauté pan) to a boil and add the baking soda.

8. Gently drop the bagels into the water, in batches. After 1 minute flip them over and boil for another minute, (for chewier bagels, increase the boiling time to 2 minutes per side). Sprinkle cornmeal on parchment-lined sheet pans while boiling the bagels.

9. Transfer the bagels to the prepared pans and bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the pans and decrease oven temperature to 450°F. Bake for another 5 minutes until golden brown and crusty.

10. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.