Ladies and gentleman, I have your ticket to delicious breakfasts forever more. This is going to be a happy day.
I love me a bagel. I eat one several mornings a week for breakfast but local friends, let’s be honest, Minnesota is not the bagel mecca we might wish it to be. Sure there are a couple of places where you can get an alright bagel but you taste one from New York in comparison, and it’s a sad realization…no competition.
So, what makes a good bagel? I asked my friends (none of whom are experts, all of whom love bagels) when we got together and here’s what we collectively came up with: a good bagel has a light crunch as you bite in that needs to combine with a soft, chewy interior.
That softness shouldn’t be too soft though, nor bread-like which seems to often happen. Rather the bagel should be chewy in an easy soft way; texture was easily the most important aspect to us and there’s a fine line between too chewy and too soft. In terms of flavour, salt is important and a subtle malt flavour is essential.
Guess what? These bagels you see in front of you? Spot on. We loved them, raved about them, and devoured the whole batch in minutes.
I’m not sure what I’ve been doing all these years waiting for our store bought bagels to be excellent. I want – and really hope (someone hold me to it) – to make bagels from scratch every weekend and have them fresh for the week.
These have a light crispy crunch as you bite in (from their dip in the simmering malt water), a soft but chewy dough, and amazing flavour – and that’s before our toppings. We made poppy seed, black sesame seed, and everything bagels (my all-time fave: garlic, dried onion flakes, poppy seeds, sea salt). Bam! Who wants to come over for brunch?
New York Style Bagels
adapted from CD Kitchen, makes 8 bagels
For the Dough
- 1 1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon dry active yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons malt syrup
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (more if needed)
For the Kettle Water
- 6 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons malt syrup or powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- sesame seeds
- poppy seeds
- minced fresh garlic
- minced fresh onion/dried onion flakes
- caraway seeds
- coarse salt
- corn meal for sprinkling baking sheets
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- With a wooden spoon, stir in the oil, malt and one cup of the flour. Add salt, then enough of remaining flour to make a stiff dough.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 10 to 12 minutes. <Enter excellent arm workout!> Cover with a floured dish towel and allow dough to rest on a board for about 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 8 sections and form each section into 10-inch long strips with your hands. Roll the ends together to seal and make a ring. Place on a lightly floured surface, cover, and let bagels rest 15 to 20 minutes. They should rise about halfway and becoming slightly puffy.
- Meanwhile, fill a large cooking pot or Dutch oven three quarters full with water. Add the malt syrup and salt.
- Bring water to a boil. Preheat oven to 450F. Line two large baking sheets with baking parchment and sprinkle generously with corn meal. Set aside.
- Line two other baking sheets/other surface with a kitchen towel, set near your stove. Reduce boiling water to a simmer and cook 2 bagels at a time (don’t crowd the pot). Simmer bagels for about 45 seconds on one side, then turn and cook other side for another 45 seconds. Remove and drain the bagels on the towel-lined baking sheet.
- Carefully place bagels on the parchment-lined, cornmeal-dusted baking sheets. Bake bagels plain or sprinkle with a topping of your choice. Place in the hot oven, immediately reduce heat to 425F, and bake about 17 to 25 minutes. When almost baked, turn bagels over (a pair of tongs will do the job easily). Transfer bagels to wire rack to cool.
These freeze well, which helps to retain a just-baked taste, if they aren’t all eaten on the first day. To freeze, slice cooled bagels first, place a small strip of plastic between the bagel halves and place in a plastic self-sealing freezer bag. When you’re ready for a bagel, they’ll come apart easily, ready to pop into the toaster and enjoy.