Homemade Bagels 7.000

Dayna Smith for The Washington Post

Apr 30, 2014

As part of Stratford University’s curriculum for its culinary students, chef instructor Charleen Huebner teaches an artisan baking course that includes a class in how to make bagels. Her recipe produces a splendid, dome-shaped bagel with just the right amount of chewiness, a beautiful shine on the outside and a fine crumb on the inside.

A poolish, or starter, gives bagel dough its oomph. Allowing formed bagels to rise overnight in the refrigerator slows down fermentation, which intensifies flavor and improves texture. Quickly kettling, or poaching, formed bagels in water simmered with barley malt syrup helps them brown and shine.

Feel free to add seasonings to the bagel dough. Huebner likes to add 2 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill and 1 1/2 tablespoons of freeze-dried red onions to hers.

If you are using toppings, such as sesame or poppy seeds, each bagel can handle about a tablespoon's worth, . Have plenty more on hand than you need to make the coating job easier. It's best to use a culinary scale for this recipe.

Make Ahead: The starter, or poolish, needs 3 to 4 hours' resting time. There will be leftover poolish, which can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using; see the NOTES below. It can be added to pancake mix or bread dough or used as the base of a starter. The bagel dough needs to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, then 1 hour, then in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and preferably overnight. The baked bagels can be frozen for up to 3 months; you may wish to cut them in half before freezing.

Where to Buy: Diastatic malt powder, such as King Arthur brand, is available online at www.kingarthurflour.com. Barley malt syrup is available at Wegmans, Giant, Whole Foods Markets, Mom's Organic Markets and Yes! Organic Markets.

7 bagels

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 7 bagels

  • For the poolish
  • 1 cup (5 1/2 ounces or 156 grams) unbleached bread flour
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces or 170 grams) water, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • For the bagels
  • A few tablespoons semolina or cornmeal, for the 2 baking sheets
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup water, at room temperature, plus more as needed
  • 3 cups minus 1 tablespoon unbleached bread flour (1 pound or 454 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (1/2 ounce or 14 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce or 22 grams) packed light brown sugar or honey
  • 2 tablespoons barley malt syrup, such as Eden brand, or 2 tablespoons diastatic malt powder, such as King Arthur brand (see headnote)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Toppings of preference, such as poppy seeds, sesame seeds or caraway seeds, sea salt, minced garlic or onion or an "everything" mix (optional; see NOTES)

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For the poolish: Use a spoon to combine the flour, water and yeast in a mixing bowl, stirring to form a soft, sticky dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours or until the sponge becomes bubbly and foamy. The yield should be about 11 ounces.

For the bagels: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then dust it lightly with cornmeal.

Stir the yeast into the water in a small bowl until dissolved; let it sit for 3 minutes. (Check after a minute or so for bubbles, to make sure the yeast is alive.)

Combine 1 cup (8 ounces) of the poolish, the flour, salt and brown sugar or honey in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough-hook attachment. Add the yeast mixture and stir by hand until the flour is hydrated and a dough begins to form. (This ensures that no dry bits of flour will be stranded in the bottom of the bowl.) Beat on medium speed for 10 to 12 minutes. The dough should be dense and fairly dry to the touch, but smooth and stretchable. You might need to add a tablespoon or two of water to achieve the desired texture.

Cut the dough into 7 equal portions, about 4 1/2 ounces each. (Weigh the dough and divide by 7 to get the exact figure.) Use the open palm of your hand to roll each piece into a ball on the countertop. Cover the balls of dough loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest on the counter for 15 minutes.

To form the bagels, bring your index and middle finger together and poke a hole straight down into the center of a ball of dough and through it. Lift the dough off the table and spread your two fingers apart to create a hole large enough to work the index and middle fingers of your other hand through the hole in the opposite direction. Using a motion similar to pedaling a bicycle, rotate both sets of fingers over and over to expand the hole and the dough circle; the gluten strands will be quite strong and elastic. Make each bagel 4 inches across and the center holes about 1 1/2 inches wide.

Place the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the dusted baking sheet. Enclose the sheet in a plastic bag or wrap it loosely in plastic wrap. Let the bagels rise until they look slightly puffy, about 1 hour. (They will not double in bulk.)

Transfer the covered baking sheet to the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or, preferably, overnight.

Thirty minutes before you plan to bake the bagels, remove them from the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly dust it with semolina or cornmeal. Line a second baking sheet with a dish towel. Pour preferred bagel toppings onto small plates.

To kettle the bagels, fill a large, wide pot with 3 inches of water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium so the water is barely bubbling. Stir in the malt syrup or powder and the tablespoon of sugar.

Reshape the bagels if necessary to make sure the center holes are still 1 1/2 inches wide and the bagels are 4 inches across. (The holes will shrink during baking.)

Working in batches of two or three, gently drop the dough into the water. Be careful not to crowd the pan; the pieces need enough room to float without touching. They should sink, then bob to the surface within 15 seconds. After a minute, flip the bagels over with a slotted spoon and poach them on the other side for 1 minute.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the poached bagels to the towel-lined sheet to drain, flatter side down. If you choose to top the bagels, invert each one onto a plate of topping mix, press it down and then shake off the excess. Transfer the topped bagels to the dusted baking sheet, topped sides up, spaced 2 inches apart.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Rotate the baking sheet from front to back halfway through so the bagels brown evenly.

Transfer the bagels to a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

To freeze the bagels right away, cool them completely and seal tightly in a freezer-safe zip-top bag.

NOTES: The poolish can be refreshed by feeding it once a week; discard half of it, then replace with equal parts (by weight) flour and water.

To make a fiery bagel topping, combine 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoons dried crushed jalapeño peppers, 3 teaspoons dried crushed chipotle peppers, 2 teaspoons crushed pink peppercorns, 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon Korean or crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon spicy Spanish smoked paprika and 3 teaspoons freeze-dried minced onion (such as Litehouse brand) in a small bowl. This will make enough for 5 bagels. The mixture can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

To make "everything" bagel topping, combine 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, 1 teaspoon poppy seeds, 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, 1/2 teaspoon Korean or crushed red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 3 teaspoons freeze-dried minced onion (such as Litehouse brand) and 2 teaspoons Japanese rice seasoning (nori fumi furikake) in a small bowl. This will make enough for 4 bagels. The mixture can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from Charleen Heubner, chef and culinary instructor at Stratford University in Woodbridge.

Tested by David Hagedorn and Jim Webster.

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