How to make the best bagels ever


I live in a town with many redeeming qualities. Unfortunately, a good bagel shop* is not one of them. As a native of Baltimore, and a former resident of Manhattan, I know a good bagel from a roll-with-hole, and I’d rather go without than eat Dunkin Donuts or Brueggers. Even the alleged H&H bagels at our local co-op are suspiciously, um, shitty.
Every time my mother comes up from Pikesville she brings us (or is it takes, mom?) a baker’s dozen of Goldberg’s Bagels. Once she had three dozen sent by mail, and for my book release party for A Mezuzah on the Door she shlepped six dozen in her carry-on luggage. (My mom is awesome.)
But every once in a while, when I really need a delicious bagel, warm from the oven, I make them myself. The recipe comes from a wonderful cookbook Bread Alone (that wonderful bakery stand at the Union Square Farmer’s Market.) The publisher has kindly granted me permission to post the recipe, so here it is. My gift to you. Enjoy! And, apropos to nothing,  did I mention that I have a post on kveller? Would you please check it out, perhaps in exchange for my spending 15 minutes typing up this recipe?
1 1/4 cups spring water
4 tsp moist or dry yeast
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 T fine sea salt
21/2 – 3 cups of organic white flour
2 T barley malt syrup
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Note: I’ve copied the directions from the book. The author, Daniel Leader, is a lot fussier than I am, and I’m sure his bagels are even better. I must cop to often mixing the ingredients in the bread machine and skipping straight to the “cut the dough into 10 pieces” part.
Combine water and yeast in a 4 quart bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then stir with a wooden spoon until the yeast is dissolved. Add the whole wheat flour, salt and enough of the white four to make a thick mass that is difficult to stir. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead vigorously, adding more of the remaining flour when needed until dough is soft and smooth, 15 to 17 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest on a lightly floured surface while you srape, cean and lightly oil the large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn the dough to coat the top with oil. Take the dough’s temperature: the ideal is 78 degrees. Cover with a clean damp towel or plastic wrap and put in a moderately warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume and a slight indentation remians after pressing the dough with a fingertip.

Deflate the dough by pushing down in the center and pulling up on the sides Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Cut the dough into 10 pieces. Flatten each with the heel of your hand and shape into a tight 1 1/2 inch ball. Place on a lightly floured board, cover with a clean damp towel or plastic wrap and put in a moderately warm draft-free place for 10 minutes.

Roll and stretch each ball into a log 8 inches long. Wrap around your fingers to form a ring. Pinch the ends together then roll seam on work surface board. Place on a board, cover with a clean damp towel or plastic wrap and put in a moderately warm draft-free place for 10 minutes.

45 minutes to 1 hour before baking, preheat the oven and baking stone to 425 (note: I don’t have one) on the center rack of the oven. The oven rack must be in the center of the oven.

Combine about 3 quarts of water and the barley malt syrup in a large saucepan. heat to boiling, then reduce to a light simmer. Place the bagels, 2 or 3 at a time, into the simmer water, turning after 30 seconds for each side. Remove with a slotted spon and drain on paper toweling. Repeat the process until all the bagels have been poached and drained.

Sprinkle a large bakig sheet with cornmeal and place the bagels 1 1/2 inches apart. Brush with a beaten egg white and bake at 425 until lighlty golden, 15-20 minutes.
*Before any locals cry foul, yes, Woodstar Cafe has very good bagels, but it’s not a bagel shop.

Comments read comments(7)
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posted December 16, 2010 at 7:16 am

Oh, how I’ve been wishing for a bagel recipe! Thank you, thank you!

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posted December 16, 2010 at 7:26 am

What is the baking temperature?

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sarah Buttenwieser

posted December 16, 2010 at 7:30 am

We have a baking stone if ever you want to borrow it. Lucien has a dream of making bagels. I think I’ll copy this recipe for him.
One of the most “unjewish” things about my (philadelphia) upbringing was between my parents (my mom’s from Nashville where there aren’t real bagels but there are Krispy Kreme doughnuts) was that I never had bagels until my stepfather came into the picture my senior year of high school, i kid you not. My dad? Grew up in Manhattan but of the our crowd jews. Not bagel eaters I guess.

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Mara ~ Kosher on a Budget

posted December 16, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I am beyond impressed. Bagels rank up there with things I’d never attempt to make on my own. And really, we are so scraping the bottom of the bagel barrel, that we eat the Thomas ones on occasion :(

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posted December 16, 2010 at 6:05 pm

mara, they are really easy and very, very good for the budget.and really, there should be a “thomas bagels anonymous.” they are that bad.

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posted December 17, 2010 at 1:33 am

Love, love, love your kveller article, well written! These bagels sound amazing too…makes me REALLY miss gluten, bagels are the best!

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Morah Mary

posted December 17, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Sounds like fun! And yes, your Mom IS awesome!

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