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These days, every supermarket, country store and corner deli seems to have a ready supply of top-flight bagels, as do shops that are devoted exclusively to bagels, their accompanying spreads, and bagel sandwiches with all sorts of interesting fillings. So, with all kinds of good bagels available just about wherever you turn, why make your own? First, so you know what's in 'em; who wants azodicarbonmide in their pumpernickel bagel? Second, so you can customize them to your taste, as in pesto bagels with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts; and third, it's easy and fun! If you can make bread dough, you can easily make bagels. These are a great treat to make with the young baker in your life.
1 tablespoon instant yeast
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon non-diastatic malt powder, brown sugar or barley malt syrup
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water, lukewarm
2 quarts (64 ounces) water
2 tablespoons non-diastatic malt powder, brown sugar or barley malt syrup
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Manual/Mixer Method: To make this dough by hand or in a mixer, combine all of the dough ingredients and knead vigorously, by hand for 10 to 15 minutes, or by machine on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes. Since we're using a high-protein bread flour here, it takes a bit more effort and time to develop the gluten. The dough will be quite stiff; if you're using an electric mixer it will "thwap" the sides of the bowl, and hold its shape (without spreading at all) when you stop the mixer. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and set it aside to rise till noticeably puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Bread Machine Method: Place all of the dough ingredients in the pan of the machine, program the machine for Dough or Manual, and press Start. Check the dough after 10 minutes; it should be quite stiff, and won't have formed a smooth ball. The dough will feel quite firm when you poke your finger into it. Allow the machine to complete its cycle, then complete bagels as instructed below.
Transfer the dough to a work surface, and divide it into eight pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll it 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, malt and sugar to a very gentle boil in a large, wide-diameter pan. 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 till it's about 2 inches in diameter (the entire bagel will be about 4 inches across). Place each bagel on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
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, remove the bagels from the water and place them back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
Bake the bagels for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're as deep brown as you like, turning them over about 15 minutes into the baking time (this will help them remain tall and round). Remove the bagels from the oven, and cool completely on a wire rack. Yield: 8 bagels.
To make sesame seed or poppy seed (or other seed) bagels, brush each bagel, just before baking, with a glaze made of 1 egg white beaten till frothy with 1 tablespoon of water. Glaze each bagel, and sprinkle heavily with seeds.
To make onion-topped bagels, bake bagels for 20 to 22 minutes (or until they're almost as brown as you like), and remove the pan from the oven, keeping the oven turned on. Working with one bagel at a time, glaze as instructed above, and sprinkle with minced, dried onion. Return the bagels to the oven for no more than 2 minutes (the onions will burn if the bagels are left in longer than that).
Want to make cinnamon-raisin bagels? Knead about 2/3 cup of raisins into the dough toward the end of the kneading process. Just before you're done kneading, sprinkle your work surface heavily with cinnamon-sugar, and give the dough a few more turns; it'll pick up the cinnamon-sugar in irregular swirls. Divide the dough into eight pieces, form each piece into a ball, and roll each ball in additional cinnamon-sugar. Proceed to let rest and shape as directed above.
We've seen bagel-store bagels in varieties as diverse as jalapeno pepper, spinach and cheese, and marbled rye. You can make bagels with just about any kind of bread dough. To retain the characteristic chewy texture, just be sure to make a dough that's low in fat, and follow the shaping, rising, boiling and baking techniques.
Nutritional information per serving (1 plain bagel, 111g): 211 cal, .5g fat, 7g protein, 43g complex carbohydrates, 2g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 536mg sodium, 101mg potassium, 3mg iron, 106mg calcium, 67mg phosphorus.