First of all, what is it that people are always saying about New York City water? And how it's the only place that makes bagels correctly? Urban legend debunked. I definitely shocked myself a little bit making these. Working with yeast can be tricky, and should not be for the faint of heart, or for someone who's always in a rush (ahem). I won't mention any names, but another sister really strained herself when it came time for the floating to happen, and nobody was floating. As a person who lacks patience 99.9% of the time, I will say, that's the key here. Most of the process with bagel making comes down to waiting, and following steps accordingly. I really believe anyone can do it, as long as you're keeping track of rise times. Of course, this means that if your timer goes off to start shaping the dough, but it's midnight and you're 4 margaritas deep, well.. liquid courage baby. You got this.
Yield - serves 6
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tsp. coarse Kosher salt, divided
3/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 tbsp. honey
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. slightly warm water
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. minced onion
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
Smoked Salmon Sandwich
.4 oz smoked salmon
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
.8 oz cream cheese combined with 2 scallions, white and light green parts sliced thinly (optional for onion lovers)
Mix the flour, 2 teaspoons of the salt, the yeast, honey, and the water until everything begins to form into dough. You can use a mixer if you like, but it's simpler by hand. It'll be a stiff dough. Feel free to add a bit more water if necessary, but you shouldn't need much. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Knead on a floured surface for about 3 minutes -- the dough will get smooth, a little tacky.
Now put your dough ball into an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, or at least an hour.
When you're ready to shape the bagels, line a baking sheet with lightly greased parchment paper or a Silpat. Then remove the dough from the fridge, and cut it into 6 pieces. Form each piece into a ball, and then each ball into a 10-inch log, with tapered ends. (Don't use any flour on your surface! You'll need the dough to stick just slightly in order for it to change shape.)
To shape the bagels, place one end of one dough log in between your thumb and forefinger, and then wrap it around the rest of your fingers -- the dough ends should overlap by an inch or two -- and squeeze it slightly to bind it together. Once you do this, you can also roll the ends together on a surface to enhance the seal.
Repeat for all of the bagels, then lightly oil them and cover with plastic wrap. Put them in the fridge to proof overnight.
About an hour an a half before you want to bake them, pull the bagels out of the fridge to come to room temperature, and fill a large pot (I use a Dutch oven) to at least 4 inches deep. Cover and bring it to a boil. When it boils, add 1 teaspoon of salt and the baking soda, then turn it down to a simmer.
Preheat the oven to 500° F.
Now test the bagels by using the float test: fill a bowl with cold water, and place one bagel in it. If it floats, they're all ready to go. If not, don't panic! Just return it to the baking sheet and let proof for 15 to 20 minutes more, then do the test again.
Working in batches that will fit in your pot, carefully drop each bagel into the simmering water, let poach for 1 minute, and flip with a slotted spoon or a spider. Poach 30 seconds more, and then return each bagel to the baking sheet.
Sprinkle your bagels with whatever topping you want. To help your toppings stick, use an egg white wash, but the the water from the poach should work too.
Placethem in the oven and reduce the heat to 450° F. Bake for 8 minutes, rotate the sheet, and bake 8 to 12 minutes more, until the bagels are golden brown. Feel free to check the bottom of the bagels as they cook -- if they're getting too brown, just stick another baking sheet underneath them.
Pull them from the oven, and wait 30 minutes before you eat them (or 17 minutes, if you're us.)