Sunday, August 22, 2010


Everyone has their perfect bagel, unfortunately these aren’t them.  Don’t get me wrong, they are a great bagel.  They just aren’t perfect.  They do, however, probably come as close to the perfect bagel as you can make a home and outside of New York City.

This recipe comes from one of my newly favorite bread books, Artisan Breads at Home by the Culinary Institute of America.  This books is arranged a little oddly, but makes great bread.  And, as any good bread book should, includes measurements by weight and bakers percentage.  It’s big contribution is the addition of malt syrup to breads to give them a better rise and better flavor.

The key pieces to making good bagels at home are using malt syrup and a good quality high protein flour.  You want a flour with a higher protein content than normal bread flour.  I’ve chosen to use Sir Lancelot Flour from King Arthur Flour.

 Mise en place for the bagels

Here is the mise en place for the bagels.  As you can see there are only three ingredients, other than water and salt.

Wet ingredients for the sponge

These bagels start with a sponge.  Sponges are just a type of quick preferment to give the bread a better flavor.  This sponge starts with water and malt syrup.

Dry ingredients for the sponge

The sponge also has some flour and yeast.

The sponge

Here is the sponge.  It sits out in a covered bowl for an hour.

Wet ingredients for the dough

Next up is the main dough.  Again, it starts with some water and malt syrup.

The sponge and wet ingredients

The finished sponge gets added to the water mixture.

The sponge and wet ingredients mixed together

The sponge and wet ingredients get all mixed together with the dough hook.

The dry ingredients get mixed in

Then the remaining flour, yeast, and salt get mixed in.

The final dough

Once the dough is mixed and the gluten has fully developed, it gets turned out onto the counter.  Since the flour has a higher protein content, it will actually take longer to fully develop the gluten.  The dough is also very stiff.  These two things together make it so that your stand mixer can overheat.  If it does, then you’ll need to revert to kneading by hand.

Measured out pieces

The dough should then be measured out into roughly 5 ounce pieces and shaped into an oblong.

Starting to shape the bagel

After a quick rest on the counter, the dough is ready to be shaped into a bagel.  The first step was to flatten it out into a rectangle.

Snake of bagel dough

Then shape it into a long snake by constantly folding down in thirds.

Shaped bagels

One end of the dough can then be wet and attached to the other end to make a circle.  To fully seal the shape, it should be rolled around your fingers, gently pressing on the dough.

Ready for the fridge

The bagels then need to retard in the refrigerator over night.

Boiling bagels in water and malt syrup

The next day, after the bagels have been removed and brought to room temperature, a large pot of water and malt syrup should be brought to a boil.

Boiled bagels

Each bagel should be boiled for 20 seconds, then placed on a baking sheet.  At this point various toppings can be added to the bagels.  I opted for plain and a few with salt.

Baked bagels

The bagels then bake at 475 degrees Fahrenheit for about 14 minutes.

A finished bagel

They come out nice and golden brown with a slightly blistered crust.

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