Like many Americans living abroad, sometimes all I want in life is a warm, toasted bagel. Sadly, they’re often hard to find, but happily, they’re actually not that hard to make at home! This was my first foray into bagel territory, but it felt familiar because making them was very similar to making pretzel rolls.
As hard as it is to curb my perpetual temptation to throw a bunch of flavors in and on top of all of my breads, this time I mostly stuck to a highly rated recipe for plain bagels from sophisticatedgourmet.com (but I’m me, so I couldn’t help but add a smidge of garlic powder into the dough and some kosher salt on top). I topped a fresh out of the oven, toasted bagel with some capers, plus left over chive and onion cream cheese and smoked salmon from my recent eclairs – man, did that hit the spot.
In the living and learning realm, they ended up a bit soggy in certain bits even after the full baking time, which I think means I need to drain them more thoroughly after the boiling. Next time I’ll definitely make everything bagels – my #1 bagel craving. One of the best things about making bagels is that you can add literally anything that sounds good to the top (think herbs, fresh garlic, onions, sesame or poppy seeds, cheese, icing…you name it) – just use an egg wash to help things stick if you go wild with your toppings.
Makes: 8-9 medium-sized bagels
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 ½ tablespoons (4 ½ teaspoons) granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups / 300ml warm water (you may need ± ¼ cup /60ml more)
3 ½ cups (500g) bread flour or high gluten flour (will need extra for kneading)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1. Pour the sugar and yeast into ½ cup /120ml of the warm water. Wait for 5 minutes, then stir the yeast and sugar mixture until it all dissolves in the water.
2. Mix the flour, salt, and garlic powder in the bowl of your Kitchenaid (or just any large bowl, if you don’t have a mixer). Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.
3. Pour 1/3 cup / 90ml of the remaining warm water into the well. Mix, stirring in the rest of the water as needed, until you have a moist but firm dough.
4. Knead the dough in the Kitchenaid with the dough hook attachment for 5 minutes on speed 2, or by hand on a floured surface for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm, stiff dough that’s not too sticky to the touch.
5. Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
6. Carefully divide the dough into 8-9 pieces (I made 9 and they were still quite large – keep in mind that they’ll get bigger when boiled). Shape each piece into a spherical ball of dough. Work the dough balls with your hands (or by rolling against your work surface) until you have a perfect surface. Don’t worry all too much about this if you’re just planning to eat them at home – I wasn’t patient, so my bagels didn’t end up as pretty as storebought, but who cares, right? Repeat with other dough balls.
7. Coat a finger in flour and gently press it through the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.
8. After shaping the dough balls and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let them rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425ºF / 220ºC / Gas Mark 7.
9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce to keep it at a low boil. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. Boil as many as you are comfortable with boiling. Once the bagels are in, it shouldn’t take too long for them to float to the top (a couple seconds). Let them sit there for 2 minutes, then flip them over to boil for another 2 minutes. If you prefer a less chewy bagel, half the boiling times to a minute each.
10. If you want to add toppings to your bagels, do so as you take them out of the water. I sprinkled a few pinches of kosher salt over mine.
11. Once all the bagels have been boiled (and topped with your choice of toppings), transfer them back to the lightly oiled baking sheet.
12. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
13. Cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes.
Post-cooling, I immediately popped one in the toaster and made my dinner. Not a perfect outcome on the first try (I ended up with little gummy bits around some edges that never dried out after the boiling), but delicious nonetheless. I’ll be trying this again sometime soon – practice makes perfect, and bagels are worth perfecting.