bagels are fun to make, and a few key ingredients
provide a depth of flavor and chewiness that make
these better than most you can buy.
are so familiar these days — perhaps too familiar, given
the contortions of new flavors, from chocolate chip to
bagels, at heart, are about the basics: yeast, water, flour,
salt and a bit of sweetener. What takes a bagel from good to
great involves using the best basics.
water and salt are straightforward enough, although for
convenience’s sake, you can’t beat instant yeast. It
doesn’t need to first be dissolved in warm water, but
merely is whisked into the flour.
bagels, bread flour is the path to the distinctive chewiness
because it has more protein, or strength, than all-purpose
choice of sweetener is the final key to a great bagel.
Barley malt syrup, readily available in local food co-ops
and some grocery stores, has a "malty" taste that
gives bagels their essential flavor. Lacking this, you can
use honey, or even a light molasses. But once you try this
syrup, you may find yourself slipping a spoonful into all
sorts of recipes for a flavor that not only is sweet, but
has some depth.
the best-tasting bagels, as well as preparation ease, mix
the dough in the evening, then let it slowly rise overnight
in the refrigerator. This enables every smidgen of yeast to
develop to its full flavor potential. In the morning, let
the dough warm up on the counter for about an hour, then
shape the bagels. While they rest, begin heating a large pot
poaching the dough in simmering water is what makes a bagel
a bagel, and not just a ring of bread. Stirring in some
baking soda gives the crust a slight tang. After poaching a
minute on each side, lift out the bagels with a slotted
spoon, brush with egg white, add toppings if you wish, then
bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes.
them cool for at least 30 minutes, then slice, slather and
modest proposal: While perusing various bagel recipes, one
popped up that called for finely ground black pepper. It was
from Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of the various
"bibles" for cakes, bread and pies, and so no
slouch in the baking department. She, in turn, has said she
was inspired by Julia Child, who used 1 to 2 teaspoons in
her bagel recipe.
we had to try it, although cowardice led to using barely a
half teaspoon. But here’s the thing: It’s wonderful. You
don’t taste "pepper." You just taste "more
flavor." Granted, black pepper isn’t everyone’s
favorite seasoning, but trust us on this one: Just a bit
added to this recipe makes a knockout bagel.
optional — but encouraged.
of like making bagels in the first place.
tbsp. barley malt syrup (see Note)
½ tsp. finely ground pepper, optional
tbsp. baking soda
Barley malt syrup is found in food co-ops and some grocery
stores. Instant yeast also is called bread machine yeast. If
you choose to add the optional pepper, make sure it’s
In a bowl, stir together 2 cups water, barley malt syrup,
honey and salt. In a large bowl, stir together flour, yeast
and, if desired, the pepper.
using a stand mixer, use the dough hook on low speed as you
add the water mixture to the flour. Mix until well-blended,
minutes. If mixing by hand, use a sturdy spoon, or your
hands, and mix for about 3 minutes. This is a fairly stiff
the dough out onto a counter and knead for several minutes
until the dough is smooth and only slightly tacky. Round
into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with
plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about an
fresh bagels in the morning, place the dough in the
refrigerator overnight. In the morning, let the dough warm
up on the counter for about an hour before shaping.)
the risen dough out into a lightly floured counter. Cut into
12 even pieces, then shape each piece into a ball by pulling
the raw edges toward the center, pinching them closed, then
firmly rolling the dough on a clean, unfloured surface using
the cup of your hand.
shape the bagels, poke a hole through the center of each
ball, then use your fingers to gently pull and rotate the
dough until you have a hole about 2 inches across. Make the
hole larger than you think you should, because the dough
will spring back and swell while poaching and baking.
the shaped bagels with a cloth and let rise until a bit
puffy, about 15 minutes.
the bagels are resting, heat 4 quarts (16 cups) water in a
large pot. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place racks
in the bottom and upper third. Cover 2 baking sheets with
parchment paper and mist with cooking spray. Or, oil baking
sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal.
the water boils, reduce to a simmer and stir in baking soda.
lower 3 bagels, top side down, into the simmering water,
leaving enough room for them to float around. (They will
sink first, then rise.) Poach for a minute, then flip over
and let poach for another minute. Remove bagels with a
slotted spoon and place on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat
with 3 more bagels.
beaten egg white over each bagel, taking care not to let it
drip onto the paper. If desired, coat with toppings such as
sesame or poppy seeds, grated cheese, sautéed garlic or
pan on lower rack and bake for 10 minutes. While the first
pan is baking, repeat the poaching process with the
the first pan has baked for 10 minutes, move it to the upper
rack and place the second pan on the lower rack.
baking for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the first bagels are
golden brown. Move the second pan to the top rack for its
remaining 8 to 10 minutes.
for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.
information per serving:
260; Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 450 mg
53 g Saturated
Calcium: 13 mg
Cholesterol: 0 mg Dietary
fiber: 2 g
exchanges per serving: 3 ½ bread/starch.