Makes 12 large or 24 mini bagels
For the sponge:
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
- 2 1/2 cups of water at room temperature
For the dough:
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 3 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
- 2 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp of malt powder OR 1 tbsp dark or light malt syrup, honey or brown sugar.
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
- Sesame seed, poppy seeds, kosher salt, rehydrate minced garlic and onions
To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the four in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap on leave at room temperature for at approximately two hours, or until the mixture become very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.
To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or a bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until ingredients for a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup of flour to stiffen the dough.
Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or 6 minutes by machine). The dough should be firm, stiffer then French bread dough but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 – 81 degrees F. If the dough seems to dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve to stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not tacky.
Immediately divide the dough into 4.5 ounce pieces for standard bagels or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls.
Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and mist lightly with spray oil. Follow the shaping method below:
(A) Poke a hole in the ball of bagel dough and (B) gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/4 inches in diameter. The dough should be as evenly stretched ads possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots.)
Place each of the shaped pieces two inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes.
Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test.” Fill a small bowl with cool or room temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within ten seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. It it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan and place the pan in the refrigerator over night. (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to two days). If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10-20 minutes until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.
The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the over to 500 degree F with two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to boil (the wider the pot, the better) and asd the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.
Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within ten seconds). After one minute, flip them over and boil for another minute. If you like chewy bagels you can extend the boiling to two minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you decide to replace the paper, be sure to lightly spray the new paper with oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.) If you want to top the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water.
When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes then rotate the pans switching shelves and rotating the pans 180 degrees. If you are baking only one pan, keep it in the center shelf, but still rotate it 180 degrees. After the rotation, lower the over to 450 degrees and continue baking for another 5 minutes or until the bagels are 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 15 minutes or more before serving.
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels:
For cinnamon raisin bagels, increase the yeast in the final dough to 1 teaspoon, and add 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar to the final dough. Rinse 2 cups of firmly packed raisins with warm water to rinse off surface sugars, acids and natural wild yeast. Add raisins the final two minutes of mixing the dough. Proceed as directed but do not top the bagels with any garnishes. When they come out of the oven and are still hot, you can brush them with melted earth balance and dip them in cinnamon and sugar to create a nice crust, if desired.
Recipe courtesy of The Bread Makers Apprentice.