Bagels have become a universal food. Eat them plain, with a shmeer of cream cheese and sliced lox, with whitefish salad, or just toasted with butter. Today’s bagels come in every flavour imaginable, many of them simply a soft round roll with a hole in the middle. Authentic bagels should be dense and chewy with a shiny, crust that will crackle slightly when you bite into it.
Canadians will tell you that there is nothing like a Montreal bagel. Americans will argue that New York water bagels are better. Similar in shape, Montreal bagels are larger and have more sugar, a softer crumb and a harder, darker crust. Both are delicious, though slightly different. Whichever you prefer, homemade bagels are easy to make.
Try out each of these recipes and judge for yourself!
o 4-3/4 cups bread flour
o 2-1/4 tbsp. sugar
o 1 tsp. instant yeast
o 1-1/2 cups warm water
o 1 large egg
o 1-1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
o 2 tbsp. sesame and/or poppy seeds
o 2 tbsp. brown sugar or honey for boiling
Preheat oven to 500. Proof the yeast in 3/4 cup of water to which 1 tbsp. of the sugar has been added and let stand for 10 minutes.
Blend the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer at low speed, then add the remaining water, yeast, egg and oil. Switch beater to a dough hook and knead for 6-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and silky and stretches when you pull a pinch away from the mass.
Turn the dough out onto an unfloured surface and form it into a thick log, about 8×4 in. and cut it in two lengthwise. Let stand, covered with a damp cloth for 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces, rolling them into a ball and forming the hole by putting your finger through the middle and twirling until the dough forms a ring about 3 in. in diameter.
Arrange the shaped bagels on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover and let proof for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a wide-rimmed 3- or 4-quart pot. Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar or honey.
Reduce the boiling water bath to a very gentle simmer. Starting with the first bagels you shaped, gently transfer 3 or 4 at a time to the water bath; don’t crowd them. Simmer them for about 30 seconds on each side, remove with a slotted spoon, then, if you’re topping them, apply the seeds while the bagels are still wet.
Return them to the baking sheet and bake for about 11 minutes, until they are a rich brown. Let cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes, then have at them! Makes 1 dozen.
Classic New York water bagels
o 2 cups warm water
o 1-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
o 2 tbsp. malt syrup or sugar
o 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
o 6-8 cups bread flour
o 1 tbsp. salt
o flour for dusting worktop
o 1 tbsp. malt syrup or sugar for water bath
o assorted seeds for toppings (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt, minced onion flakes)
In the large bowl of an electric mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warm water to soften; stir to dissolve. Add the malt syrup or sugar, oil, 6 cups flour and salt. Mix thoroughly then change beater to a dough hook and knead until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl. It should be silky and stretch when you pull a pinch away from the mass.
Turn the dough onto an unfloured work surface and knead, adding small amounts of flour as necessary. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10-12 minutes).
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and let rise until an impression made with your finger remains and does not sink into the dough (about 1 hour). Punch down, cut into thirds, and roll each piece into a rope.
Cut each rope into 4 equal pieces and shape into balls. Shape the bagel by poking a hole through the centre with your index finger and twirl until the dough will form a ring about 3 in. in diameter. Place the bagels on a parchment-lined baking sheet as they’re shaped. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 460.
Once all the bagels are shaped, reduce the boiling water bath to a very gentle simmer. Starting with the first bagels you shaped, gently transfer 3 or 4 at a time to the water bath; don’t crowd them. Simmer them for about 30 seconds on each side, remove with a slotted spoon, sprinkle with toppings while still wet and return them to the baking sheet.
Bake the bagels for 20 minutes, or until they’re a deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool them on a rack.
Serve bagels warm or at room temperature. Store at room temperature, well wrapped, for several days; freeze for longer storage.