You'd think bagels would be difficult, highly specialized. But in fact they're no more difficult to make than Dutch oven bread. Maybe easier. The dough, this one at least from North Carolina baker Bruce Ezzell (which I posted about years ago but wanted to do again in this baking during quarantine), is very stiff and easy to work with. And after mixing the dough only requires 10 minutes of resting and 10 to 15 minutes of resting after being shaped.
If you plan ahead by making the sponge the night before you want your bagels, you can have finished bagels in about the time it takes to make waffles.
The process is simple: mix equal parts water and flour and a little yeast. The next morning, add the remaining ingredients flour, salt, honey and malted barley syrup. Rest, portion and shape, rest. Poach them in alkaline water, then bake.
That's really all there is to it—they're fabulous and fun, with an almost crisp crust and chewy interior.
Bruce Ezzell's Bagels
- 500 grams flour (3.5 cups)
- 500 grams water
- 3 grams active dry yeast (¾ teaspoon)
To Make Bagels
- 18 grams kosher salt (a tablespoon of Morton's coarse kosher salt)
- 18 grams honey
- 18 grams malt syrup (you can substitute molasses if you wish)
- 446 grams flour
- Baking soda (½ tablespoon for every 2 liters/1/2 gallon water)
- Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt or other garnish recommended
- Combine the ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix with a spoon till the ingredients are combined. Cover and set aside at room temperature for at 4 to 14 hours. Do this before going to bed if you want fresh bagels in the morning.
To make bagels
- Add salt, honey, malt syrup, and flour to the sponge. Attach dough hooks to your mixer and mix at low speed for 8-10 minutes. This is a stiff, bucky dough so don’t walk away from the mixer if it has a tendency to walk across your counter top. I’ve had more than one mixer hit the floor and it is distressing. (This can also be mixed by hand.)
- Fill a deep pot filled with water on the stove to boil (measure the water so you know how much baking soda to use). When I boil I typically use a pan like a wok filled with water. Once the water comes to a simmer add the baking soda (1 tablespoon per gallon). Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Once the dough is mixed remove it to your counter and cover with a cloth to let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 12-13 (3-4 oz) pieces. Round each piece and set aside to rest for a few more minutes, covered.
- To shape take each ball of dough and flatten out slightly using the palm of the hand, making a disc approximately 3.5 inches wide. Make a hole in each using your thumb and place back on the counter, covered, to rise.
- After 10 minutes flip each bagel over so the bottom is now facing up. When this side begins to get slightly puffy and rounded it is time to boil. This may take as little as 5 minutes, but depending on the temperature of your kitchen, how cold your countertop is, etc., it might take longer. When the bagel looks and feels a bit puffy, it’s ready to boil.
- While your bagels are in their final rise bring your water to a simmer, then add the baking soda.
- Drop the bagels 3-4 at a time into the simmering water (depending on how large your pot is). They should float immediately or within a few seconds. Let them simmer for one minute, then flip them over using a chopstick or spoon and let the other side simmer for one minute. Remove from the water using a skimmer or large spoon. I like to bake them on a half-sheet pan lined with parchment paper. They can also be baked on a pizza stone.
- Sprinkle them with sesame, poppy seeds, salt or whatever you prefer immediately after removing them from the water, or alternately, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle after that.
- Bake for 12 to 13 minutes or until golden brown.