Authentic New York Bagel Recipe

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I know I say this every time I try a new bagel recipe… But I mean it this time. This is the best bagel recipe I’ve tried. I’ve experimented with with different yeasts, overnight rises, sponges, boiling times, and oven temperatures….but this recipe takes the cake, and definitely deserves a post. All the leavening in this recipe is done the night before, which makes life so much easier. While fresh bagels in the morning are amazing, it is always a struggle to get out of bed at five in the morning to get the dough ready for its first rise.

The factors that distinguish this recipe include the sponge, the high-gluten flour, the malt syrup, the baking temperature, and the use of alkaline boiling water. The ingredients include:

Sponge:
4 cups high-gluten bread flour
1 teaspoon instant (rapid rise) yeast
2-1/2 cups of water at room temperature

Dough:
3-3/4 cups bread flour
1 additional teaspoon instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 tablespoon barley malt syrup
2 tablespoons of honey
3 teaspoons of salt
(Makes 1 dozen large bagels or up to 24 mini bagels)

Toppings/flavoring:
Poppy seeds
Egg white
3 Tbsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup blueberry juice (I used POM)

Time:
Sponge: 5 minutes mixing, 2-hour rise
Dough: 1 hour (kneading, resting and shaping)
Delayed rise: Overnight
Baking: 15 – 25 minutes.

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Begin by mixing the 4 cups of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of instant (rapid rise) yeast, and 2-1/2 cups of water in a 4 quart mixing bowl. It should have a thick consistency. Cover the bowl with plastic. Let the yeast do its job and allow the mixture to double in size (at least two hours).

Once the sponge has risen, mix 1 tablespoon of barley malt syrup, 2 tablespoons of honey, additional teaspoon yeast, 3 teaspoons salt, and about 3 cups of the bread flour into the sponge. Save the remaining 3/4 cup of flour for kneading. This step is easily accomplished in a bread machine or stand mixer, but can also be done by hand. If you’ve used the high-gluten flour, this step might take a little extra effort. Make sure you keep an eye on your mixer…. It might overheat!

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Once all of the ingredients have been mixed in, knead the dough either by hand or with a dough hook. Add the remaining flour as necessary, and knead until the dough is a little stiff (not tacky) and a little springy. It should be satiny and smooth, without any dry bits of flour. This takes about five minutes using a dough hook, or about 10 minutes if kneading by hand.At this point in time, I flavored the dough. I doubled this recipe, and divided all the dough equally between three bowls.

For the blueberry bagels, I added 1/3 cup blueberry juice, and 1/2 cup frozen blueberries. I had to add an additional cup of flour to get the dough consistency right, and kneaded the dough again for about five minutes.

For the cinnamon raisin bagels, I added 3 tablespoons cinnamon, and 1 cup of raisins. I kneaded this dough for another five minutes as well.

For the poppyseed bagels, I left the dough plain, and simply topped them with egg wash and poppy seeds after they were boiled.

Once the dough has been kneaded, divide it into one dozen pieces, approximately 4-1/2 ounces per piece.

Shape these into round smooth balls by using your thumbs to pull one surface of the dough around to that it forms a nice smooth skin and squeeze the folds on the bottom together to seal this ball. Take it and roll it between both cupped palms to further smooth out the folds and form a nearly perfectly round ball.

Places these on a greased cookie sheet, or silicone baking pad. You should let them rest for about 10 – 20 minutes to allow the gluten strands to reform.

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To shape the bagels, grab a ball of dough and push your thumb into the center. Poke with fingers of both hands, begin enlarging the hole until it is at least 3″ in diameter. Work your hands around the circle so that the dough remains the same thickness around the hole. As the hole closes up, keep stretching it until it shrinks to no less than about 2″ diameter when relaxed.

As each bagel is formed, place back on the greased cookie sheet, or greased silicone baking mat. Make sure to leave enough room between bagels; 6 – 8 bagels will fit on a standard cookie sheet.

Once the bagels have been formed, let them rest for a few minutes to allow them to proof. Once they begin to rise a bit, they are ready for the fridge. Spray the bagels with a light cooking oil spray and lay a sheet of plastic wrap over them.

Place them in the refrigerator overnight. Chilling the dough allows the yeast to work on the proteins in the dough, which yields some of the classic flavors that make bagels taste like bagels.

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Place two baking racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Fill a pot with water, and add one tablespoon of barley malt syrup, and one tablespoon baking soda. The makes the water a little bit more alkaline. Bring the water to a boil. Prepare a couple of baking sheets. If desired, sprinkle the greased sheets with cornmeal or plain bread crumbs. Take the bagels out of the refrigerator. Carefully lift the bagels, and place them two at a time in the boiling water.

Boil them for 45 seconds to a minute on one side, then flip them over and boil for an additional 45 seconds to one minute on the other side. The longer you boil them, the chewier the crust will become.

Using a slotted spoon, place the boiled bagels on paper towels. Pat them dry, then place them on the baking sheet and sprinkle them with a topping (or leave them plain). If you are going to top the bagels, brush the bagel tops with egg wash to ensure that the toppings stick. You can sprinkle them with a small amount of kosher salt, sesame seeds, cheese, poppy seeds…the options are endless.

To bake, place the cookie sheets in the center of the oven and bake for five minutes. Rotate the sheets by turning them 180 degrees, and put the top sheet on the bottom and vice versa. Let the bagels bake for another 7 to 10 minutes, until they’re golden brown.

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