This is my go-to recipe for homemade bagels. It's adapted from Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads. Clayton, in turn, got the recipe from the folks at the now-defunct Jo Goldenberg's, the famous Jewish restaurant and delicatessen in Le Marais, the historical Jewish quarter of Paris.
These bagels take about thee hours from start to finish, a large chunk of that time being the hourlong rise and the 30 or so minutes in the oven. Make these for a brunch party, tell your guests they came from your oven, and watch their socks get knocked off. There's something about homemade bagels that really impresses people.
- 19.25 ounces bread flour (3 1/2 cups) [530g]
- 1/4 ounce instant dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons; or 1 envelope active dry) [7g]
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 12 ounces hot water (1 1/2 cups, 120°–130°F) [340g]
- 1 1/2 tablespoons malt syrup (for the boiling water; alternatively, you can use 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar)
- 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water (optional, for toppings)
Add all the dry ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixed, about 5 seconds. With processor running, slowly add the water; process until dough comes together and rides up over the blade, about 30 seconds. Continue processing until dough becomes satiny and elastic, about 30 seconds more.
Transfer dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
After dough has risen but before you divide and shape it, prepare your water bath: Add the malt syrup to 6 quarts of water over high heat and let it come to a boil as you continue with the following steps.
Also: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
After dough has doubled in bulk, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and press down with your fingers to expel the gases. Divide dough into 10 equal portions.
Ball a portion of dough, then roll it into a "rope" about 7 inches long and about 1 inch thick. (Tip: I like to taper the ends slightly in preparation for the next step.)
Wrap the dough around the back of your hand, overlapping the ends in your palm. Place your hand, along with the dough, palm-down on the work surface and roll dough back and forth until ends crimp and seal together. Place dough ring under a span of plastic wrap while you repeat rope-and-loop process with remaining dough portions.
Tip: You can brush a little water on the ends to help them stick, but this dough is wet enough that it usually comes together without help.
A note on hand size: The recipe calls for wrapping the rope around your palm, but I like a smaller, tighter bagel, so I wrap it around my first three fingers, as shown. If you have a smaller hand, you could probably wrap it around all your fingers.
Allow bagels to rise again for 10 minutes. At this point, your malt syrup–water should be boiling. Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to carefully add bagels, one at a time, to the water. (Note: no more in the pot than 3 at a time.) Bagels should sink but then rise again after a few seconds. Simmer for 1 minute, flipping bagels at the 30-second mark.
Tip: The original recipe calls for this second rising, but I often skip it. I've found it makes very little, if any, noticeable difference.
Remove bagels from water with skimmer or slotted spoon to a clean kitchen towel. Pat dry.
If making plain bagels, proceed to Step 10.
For bagel toppings: Place bagels on wire cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Brush bagel tops with egg-water mixture. Shake on desired toppings. Sesame seed, poppy seed, kosher salt, minced onion, and minced garlic are classic (at least in NYC).
The baking sheet will collect excess dry toppings (such as sesame or poppy seeds). Simply pour them back into their containers for reuse.
Place bagels on prepared baking sheet. Bake until light brown and shiny, 15 to 20 minutes. Flip, and bake until reverse side is golden-brown and shiny, about 10 minutes more.
Large baking sheet, oiled with shortening or nonstick cooking spray and then dusted with cornmeal (or just use a nonstick baking sheet or parchment)