I’m thinking of asking these bagels to be my valentine, since I love them and all.
The only thing that could have made this morning better would be coffee. (I ran out yesterday.) But the goodness of these bagels makes me not even care. And that’s saying a alot too, because I REALLY like coffee.
This recipe makes exactly twelve (4.5 oz.) bagels and one really little bagel for Elliot.
Sponge (dough starter) –
- 1 t rapid rise yeast
- 4 cups unbleached bread flour
- 2 1/2 cups water, room temperature
- 1/2 t rapid rise yeast
- 3 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour
- 2 3/4 t salt
- 1 T brown sugar or honey
- 1 T baking soda
- cornmeal (for dusting the baking sheets)
- sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, dry herbs, cinnamon sugar*, or cheese for topping
* If you choose to top any bagels with cinnamon sugar, chances are the stuff that falls on the baking sheet will burn. If you want to avoid that, simply brush the bagels with butter when they are done baking, but still warm, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar then.
- Day one: make the sponge. Stir yeast into flour in a large mixing bowl. Add water, whisking or stirring 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 foamy and bubbly and has swollen to near double in size.
- Make the dough. In the same mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of flour, salt and brown sugar or honey. (Add the flour slowly if using an electric mixer, or the flour will go everywhere!) Stir or mix on a low speed with a dough hook until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup of flour to stiffen the dough.
- Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes by hand or 6 minutes by machine. The dough should be firm, stiffer than your average bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour. (Kneading this dough is a workout. Halfway through I had to drink water. Relay dough kneading, for real.)
- When you’ve kneaded the dough for 10 minutes, grab a few tablespoons of dough and stretch it. If it rips, add a few drops of water to the dough and continue to knead. If the dough is stretchy and sticky and out of control sprinkle the dough with a bit more flour and knead in. When it’s stretchy, but not sticky and pliable, not dry it’s ready!
- Immediately divide the dough into twelve 4.5 ounce pieces for standard bagels. Form the pieces into rolls. (I weighed the dough so my bagels would be consistent in size and bake evenly, but if you simply divide the dough into 12 even pieces that works too.)
- Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and mist lightly with cooking spray. Shape the bagels. Poke a hole in the the center of a ball of dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it approximately 2 inches in diameter. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible. Try to avoid thick and thin spots. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Mist the bagels very lightly with cooking spray and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
- Check to see if the bagels are ready to go into the fridge by using the “float test.” Fill a small bowl with a few inches of room temperature or cool water and drop a one of the shaped bagels into the water. If it floats immediately (or within 10 seconds) they are ready! If not check back and test another bagel in 10-20 minutes. Pat the test bagel dry and place back on the baking sheet.
- Day two: (the following day or when you are ready to make the bagels), preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the rack in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby, as well as all the delicious toppings you have in mind.
- Remove bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit. (They should float.) After 2 minutes flip them over and boil another 2 minutes. (If you like your bagels a little less chewy boil and flip for only 1 minute on each side.) While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal. (If you decide to replace the parchment paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with cooking spray to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.) If you want to top the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water.
- When all the bagels have been boiled and topped, place the pans on the middle shelf in the oven. (I had to bake mine in two different rotations. Once 6 were boiled and topped I baked those ones and then followed up with the second batch.) Bake for 5 minutes then rotate the pan. Lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees F for an additional 5-8 minutes. The bagels should be golden brown, but you can bake them longer if you desire them to be darker.
- Remove from the oven and allow the bagels to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Elliot was pretty excited that I made him a tiny bagel too.