Homemade bagels are simple to make yet, I am here to make that process foolproof. Follow my comprehensive step by step bagel recipe guide to perfect bagels.
Start the process the night before or a day ahead of when you need the bagels, as the dough needs to be refrigerated overnight before baking (Note 8 - skipping overnight fermentation).
Mix and knead: In a bowl of a mixer or a large bowl stir 2 tsp instant dry yeast and 2 1/4 cups water. Then add 6 1/4 cups bread flour (weigh the flour for best results), 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp kosher salt, and 1 Tbsp of diastatic malt powder and quickly mix with a spoon to bring the ingredients together into a shaggy dough.
Now knead the dough with a mixer or by hand:
Mixer: Fit the mixer with a hook and mix on slow speed for about 4 minutes (Note 3). Turn up the speed to medium and knead for another 5 minutes.
The dough will be stiff but elastic and smooth with well-developed gluten. If the mixer struggles to knead, knead for several minutes, then leave to rest for 5-10 minutes, then continue kneading for several minutes until smooth.
By hand: Alternatively, the dough can be kneaded by hand. Just continue to knead until the dough looks smooth with well-developed gluten.
Divide the dough into 10 to 12 equal pieces. Weighing with a kitchen scale is the best way to achieve equal pieces. Otherwise, make a log and divide the dough into 10-12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a neat smooth ball, then roll the balls into rings starting with the first one you rolled into a ball and work sequentially.
1st way to shape a bagel: rope to ring
- roll all balls into 10-inch logs without flouring the working surface or introducing any flour. Shape the log into a ring by overlapping the ends. Then place 2-3 fingers over the area of the overlap and roll back and forth on the work table to seal the ends together and make them the same thickness as the rest of the ring. The rolled bagel should be 4-inches round with a 2-inch hole in the middle.
2nd way to shape a bagel: ball to ring
- Poke a hole in the middle of the shaped ball and stretch it out until you have a 1.5-2 inch hole and a 4-inch bagel.
Ferment/proof: set the shaped bagels on a parchment-lined 15" x 21" baking sheet dusted with flour, spacing them evenly. Leave the shaped bagels at room temp for 30 minutes (Note 4 & 5) to allow them to proof until about 1 1/2 times their original size. The bagels are not meant to be very soft and fluffy, so they need less of a rise time than regular yeast based, baked goods.
Cold retardation: Then, transfer to the fridge to continue proofing (cold retard), covered, for about 12 hours or overnight (Note 6 & 7). They should increase slightly more in volume, but not a lot (to skip the overnight proofing read Note 8).
Rest at room temp: After refrigerated fermentation, remove the bagels from the fridge and leave at room temperature, covered for 15 minutes to rest.
Meanwhile prep for boiling and baking:
Preheat the oven to 500°F with the rack in the middle.
Meanwhile, fill an 8-quart pot with about 5 quarts of water and add the malt syrup or the honey. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Set a cooling rack over a baking pan to catch any dripping from the water.
Boil: add 2 - 3 bagels to the boiling water and give a gentle stir to prevent them from sticking. Simmer until they float to the top, about 30 seconds rotating them halfway through if they're not fully submerged. Do not boil for too long or the crust will be very thick (Note 9).
Transfer with a slotted spoon to the prepared rack to dry excess water. Add garnish if desired while the bagels are still slightly wet.
Bake: Transfer the boiled bagels back to the parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them evenly and place in the center of the oven. Turn the heat down to 450F and bake for about 15 minutes or until the bagels are golden brown, but still soft and springy to touch. Turn the sheet halfway through baking for even cooking. Cool on a rack before serving.
Store thoroughly cooled bagels in a ziplock bag at room temperature or freeze thoroughly cooled and wrapped bagels for up to 6 months.
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