There’s something immensely satisfying about making your own bread and rolls. Watching the yeast in action is magical. In addition, the aroma of bread baking is amazing. Finally, the taste of homemade bread or rolls is incredible. If you can make your own bread, then you can make bagels!
Why? Because the dough for bagels is basically the same as bread dough. Several things, however, distinguish bagels from bread or rolls. First, the basic dough tends to be a bit stiffer than that for bread or rolls. Second, traditional bagels are round with a hole in the center, like a doughnut. Finally, bagels are boiled in a sweetened water for several minutes before they are baked. The boiling is critical because it gives bagels their traditional crust and chew.
Through the years, I’ve discovered that there are two secrets to producing perfect bread every time. First, I always, always, always weigh all of the ingredients. The main reason is that the weight of flour which is the main component of bread, differs depending on the type of flour, the level of humidity in the air, and most importantly, the way that the flour is measured. For example, 1 cup of all-purpose or bread flour in a King Arthur recipe weighs 4.25 ounces or 120 grams. In a Julia Child recipe, 1 cup of flour weighs 5 ounces or 142 grams. One cup of flour measured in a measuring cup can weigh up to 6 ounces or 170 grams. With all of that variability, it’s questionable that one could ever produce a consistent product without weighing the ingredients!
Second, I always use a bread machine to do most of the work. I’m lazy and have no interest in spending 10 to 15 minutes kneading the dough by hand. Also, I don’t keep my stand mixer on the kitchen counter, so it’s a pain to lug it out for any reason! Finally, the bread machine produces the perfect environment for the first rise.
Ingredients for New York Style Bagels:
Since this was my first time making bagels, I decided to stick with basic plain bagels using the recipe on the King Arthur site as a starting point. I used the following ingredients: water, salt, barley malt syrup, bread flour, and instant yeast.
- 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces, 283) grams water
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon (0.5 ounce, 14 grams) barley malt syrup or brown sugar
- 4 cups (17 ounces, 482 grams) bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
- 2 quarts water
- 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce, 28 grams) barley malt syrup or brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon (0.5 ounce, 14 grams) granulated sugar
- Add all dough ingredients to pan of bread machine in the order listed. Set bread machine to dough cycle, and press start. While the dough is kneading adjust flour or water as necessary to produce a stiff dough.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; lightly grease. Set aside.
- Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Divide into eight pieces roughly 3.5 ounces each.
- Working with one piece at a time, form dough into a smooth, round ball. Place the balls on floured surface. Cover the balls with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 30 minutes. They'll puff up very slightly.
- While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath by heating the water, malt syrup, and sugar to a very gentle boil in a large, wide-diameter pan. Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Use your index finger to poke a hole through the center of each ball, then twirl the dough on your finger to stretch the hole until it's about 1-inch in diameter. Return to floured surface.
- Transfer the bagels, several at a time, to the simmering water. Increase the heat under the pan to bring the water back up to a gently simmering boil, if necessary. Cook the bagels for 2 minutes, flip them over, and cook 2 minutes more. Using a skimmer or strainer, remove the bagels from the water and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
- Bake the bagels for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're as deep brown as you like, turning them over about 15 minutes into the baking time (this will help them remain tall and round). Remove the bagels from the oven, and cool completely on a rack.
- Yield: 8 New York Style Bagels.