Homemade Bagels

Recently, I have started to try to make a few recipes that are a little on the challenging side for me- homemade marshmallows, vegetarian meals as I have given meat up for Lent, and this recipe for bagels. When I started to see a lot of fellow bloggers in the blogosphere attempt bagels successfully, I decided that it was time to get over my fear.

Of course, being a little bit crazy, I decided to make bagels for the first time, and bring them for my swap item at one of the Boston Food Swaps. Daring, yes, but isn't that what sharing food with complete strangers is? Either way, these bagels turned out fantastically! They were much easier to make than I had originally thought, much like marshmallows, and I even had a lot of fun poking the holes in them and swinging them around my finger.

I highly suggest making the bagels on a free afternoon. Even better, pair with some cinnamon honey butter or homemade jam.

Simple Bagels
from King Arthur Flour

1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) cool water
pinch of yeast

4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) cool water
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Water bath
water to fill a 10"-diameter pan about 1" deep
1 tablespoon non-diastatic malt powder or brown sugar

Combine the starter ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.

Next day, combine the puffy starter with all of the dough ingredients and knead—by hand, electric mixer, or bread machine—to form a stiff but not dry dough. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and set it aside to rise for 1 hour. Gently deflate the dough, and let it rise for another 30 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a work surface, and divide it into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth, round ball. Cover the balls with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 30 minutes. They'll puff up very slightly.

While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath by heating the water and malt (or sugar, which I used) to a very gentle boil in a wide-diameter (about 10") pan. A 10" electric frying pan works well here. Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Use your index finger to poke a hole through the center of each ball, then twirl the dough on your finger to stretch the hole until it is about 2 inches in diameter (the entire bagel will be about 3 ½" across). Be careful as it is easy to fling the bagel off of your finger. Place each bagel on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Be sure to grease or use parchment. I did not and ruined a baking sheet.

Transfer the bagels, four at a time if possible, to the simmering water. Increase the heat under the pan to bring the water back up to a gently simmering boil, if necessary. Cook the bagels for 2 minutes, flip them over, and cook 1 minute more. Using a skimmer or strainer, or the end of a wooden spoon, remove the bagels from the water and place them back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.

Bake the bagels for about 25 minutes, or until they're as deep brown as you like. To top with seeds, remove them from the oven after about 15 minutes, spray with water or Quick Shine, and sprinkle with seeds. Return to the oven to finish baking. Remove the bagels from the oven, and cool completely on a rack.

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