I’ve so long been intimidated by bagels. I mean bagels. A staple of NYers past and present. The extent of my NYC experience involves dragging a ridiculous number of kids through Grand Central Station and into Times Square, and having unheard of amounts of fun doing it. Toys R Us anyone?
But my college roomie was coming in town with her husband and her sister. I wanted to be able to serve them an awesome breakfast, but I also knew that we would certainly be up till all hours the night before and I probably wouldn’t feel like rolling out biscuits the next morning. Or doing anything much beyond stumbling toward the warm glow of the coffee pot. So the day they were to arrive, I made these — the world’s easiest bagels!
This recipe called for an overnight starter of:
- 2 1/8 oz bread flour (I actually used AP flour for the starter and it was fine)
- 2 oz. cool water
- a pinch of yeast
Pretty easy so far, yes? Cover that and let it sit at room temperature overnight.
The next morning, mix your now-bubbly starter with:
- 17 ounces bread flour
- 10 ounces cool water
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1. Now it’s time to knead. It takes a little more time and effort to develop the gluten in bread flour, so don’t be a hero; bust out the stand mixer or the bread machine for this one. It took me about eight minutes in the stand mixer to make it look nice and smooth (tip: spray the dough hook with non-stick spray to keep the dough from climbing up the hook).
2. Put your pretty dough in a greased/sprayed bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let it rise for one hour. After an hour, gently push the air out of the dough, and let it rise again for thirty minutes.
3. Now to split up the dough! Divide it into 12 roughly even pieces (I was not even a little scientific about this — I patted it into a disc, then cut it like a pie). Roll each piece into a little ball, then cover them all with plastic wrap and let them puff up a bit for thirty minutes.
4. Transfer the dough to a work surface, and divide it into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth, round ball. Cover the balls with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 30 minutes. They’ll puff up very slightly.
5. Turn on your oven to 425, then heat a few inches of water in a wide pan till it’s boiling; add 1 Tbsp. brown sugar to the water. I *ahem* heard the bagels will still taste very yummy even if you forget skip the sugar.
6. Line two cookie sheets with silicone sheets, or grease with butter. Parchment is not your friend for this: the wet bagels will stick to the parchment forever. Shape your bagels by poking your finger through the middle of a dough ball, then twirling two fingers in the middle (think the same motion as twiddling your thumbs) till the hole is about two inches across.
7. Time for a swim! Drop bagels, four at a time, into the boiling water bath. Cook for two minutes, then flip and cook for one minute on the second side. Fish them out with a chopstick through the hole and put them back on the lined cookie sheets. Repeat till all bagels are boiled.
8. Bake at 425 till the bagels are as browned as you like; for me this was about 20 minutes. Sneak one to eat warm from the oven, then cool the rest completely on a rack.
I served these with cream cheese, fresh butter and pear jam from the awesome feed mill in our county. So yummy!
Incidentally, this article (which is great) says that homemade bagels are dramatically cheaper than store-bought. And so much better tasting, it turns out!