I got this book by Peter Reinhart Artisan Breads Every Day to help with my bread baking but instead of bread, it turns out the recipe I make over and over is the Bagels. I always thought Bagels would be hard to make but as it turns out, I was very wrong. They need time but hands on it’s all about the shaping and the boiling. I’ve been doubling batches and still only spend about 1 hour hands on with delicious bagels to show for it at the end. Montreal is home of the Fairmont Bagel and St-Viateur bagels and the mystery bagels (which are my personal favorite) at the Faubourg and still these are more popular in this house than the store-bought.
Peter Reinhart’s Bagels
Yield: 6 to 8 bagels
1 tb (21g) barley malt syrup*, honey, or rice syrup
1 tsp (3g) instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp (10.5g) salt
1 cup plus 2tb water about (95F or 35C)
3 1/2 cups (454g) unbleached bread flour
2 to 3 quarts (181 to 272g) water
1 1/2 tb (28.5g) barley malt syrup or honey (optional)
1 tb (14g) baking soda
1 ts (7g) salt
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, rehydrated dried minced garlic or onions
Dough: stir the malt syrup, yeast, and salt into the lukewarm water. Place the flour into a mixing bowl and pour in the malt syrup mixture. If using a mixer, use the dough hook and mix on the lowest speed for 3 minutes. If mixing by hand, use a large, sturdy spoon and stir for about 3 minutes until well blended. The dough should form a stiff coarse ball, and the flour should be fully hydrated; if it isn’t, stir in a little more water. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Resume mixing with the dough hook on the lowest speed for another 3 minutes or transfer to a very lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for about 3 minutes to smooth out the dough and develop the gluten. The dough should be stiff yet supple, with a satiny, barely tacky feel. If the dough seems too soft or overly tacky, mix or knead in a little more flour.
Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
Here the recipe calls for shaping the dough, lining up the bagels on a baking sheet, covering them with plastic wrap and then placing the baking sheet in the refrigerator or to cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. I don’t know about you but finding space for a baking sheet in my fridge is near impossible (and since I always double the recipe doubly impossible) so I always just put the bowl in the fridge and it’s works perfectly. You can refrigerate the dough up to two days.
On baking day
Pull the bowl out of the fridge about 1 hour before you’re ready to bake. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and mist lightly with spray oil. Proceed with one of the following shaping methods but first cut your dough ball into however many pieces corresponding to the number of bagels you want to make:
Method 1: Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots.)
Method 2: Roll out the dough into a rope. Wrap the dough around the palm and back of your hand, between the thumb and forefinger, overlapping the ends by a few inches. Press the overlapping ends on the counter with the palm of your hand, rocking back and forth and pressing down to seal**.
Check to see if the bagels are ready for baking by using the “float test”. Fill a bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be baked when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan and pat it dry. If you are not ready to boil and bake yet, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the room temperature and the stiffness of the dough.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. In a large pot mix the poaching ingredients, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer (the wider the pot the better). Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.
Gently drop each bagel into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minutes flip them over and boil for another minute. Place the bagels flat side down on the lined baking sheet. If you want to top the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water***.You can use any of the suggestions in the ingredients list or a combination.
When all the bagels have been boiled, transfer the pans to the oven, lower the heat to 450F, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for about 8 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) Check the underside of the bagels, if they are getting to dark, place another pan under the baking sheet and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.
Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 30 minutes or longer before serving.
* I bought Barley malt syrup at the health food store before making my first batch. I love the flavor it gives the bagels. You’ll find this product in the honey, agave syrup and peanut butter section of the health food store.
** I prefer to use the rope method. The trick is to actually seal by rolling the ends as described on a clean counter. If you put flour it’ll be much harder to get a seal and it might actually break when boiling.
*** I don’t use anything other than the residual poaching liquid to make my toppings stick. I’m guessing that the malt syrup makes the water a little sticky. You do however need to put the toppings on as soon as the bagels come out of the water.