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The bagel is one of those things which seems to have attained a certain level of popularity years ago, and has never slipped. If you don't live near a bakery, or if you just like the challenge of making your own, the following recipe should get you started.
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups water, warm
1/4 cup instant malted milk powder or non-diastatic malt powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
5 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons instant malted milk powder or non-diastatic malt powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the malt and sugar, then the salt and flour. Knead the dough till smooth (by hand, mixer or machine). Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly greased bowl covered with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow it to rise till doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
When the dough has risen, punch it down and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Put the water into a large, shallow pan -- the water should be about 3 inches deep -- and add the malt and sugar. Bring the water to a boil while you're shaping the bagels.
Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape it into a ball, poke a hole through the center with your index finger, and twirl; the dough will form a ring. Place the bagels on a parchment-lined baking sheet as they're shaped. Boil them immediately, or let them rise a bit.
Reduce the boiling water bath to a very gentle simmer. Gently transfer the bagels, 3 or 4 at a time, to the water bath; don't crowd them. Simmer them for about 30 seconds on each side, then return them to the baking sheet.
Bake the bagels in a preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes, or until they're a deep golden brown. Yield: 16 to 20 bagels, depending on size.
Additional Notes: We used non-diastatic malt powder in place of the instant malted milk powder. You can use diastatic malt powder, but given the somewhat volatile nature of this ingredient -- used in too great a quantity, it'll "melt" the structure of your dough -- we prefer the non-diastatic. Malt powder not only gives the bagels a good taste; when used in the water bath it gives them a shiny crust.
You can use a doughnut cutter to make bagels; it's an easy, quick method to shape nice-looking bagels. If you've made the full recipe, divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough out to a 9-inch circle, and cut as many bagels as you can. Gather the scraps and cut more bagels; you should end up with about 10. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.
After you've boiled the bagels, and before you bake them, you may sprinkle them with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, coarse salt, or whatever you wish. Bagels brushed with a bit of beaten egg white before topping will be shinier, and hold onto their topping better.
To make flavored bagels, add ingredients to the dough before kneading. Bits of cooked spinach or fresh chive or garlic, diced onions, cinnamon and raisins are all popular.
Nutrition information per serving (1 bagel, 1/16 of recipe, 83g): 173 cal, 1g fat, 5g protein, 34g complex carbohydrates, 2g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 1g cholesterol, 423mg sodium, 97mg potassium, 2mg iron, 88mg calcium, 61mg phosphorus. Note: Using diastatic or non-diastatic malt powder, in place of the instant malted milk powder, reduces the fat per serving to .4g and the cholesterol to 0mg.