I love bagels. I love bread. But, over time, I have found that I prefer homemade bread over store bought bread-no brainer! Especially bagels. The ones in the store, at least in my opinion, are too thick, bready, and bland. When I bite into one, all I can taste is bread, while the supposed other flavors don’t come through at all.
So, I started making my own! I make a big batch and then freeze them. They are perfect to take out of the freezer, zap in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds, slice them, toast them, slather them in cream cheese and eat!
Recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 4 cups unbleached bread flour
- 2 1/2 cups water, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 3 3/4 cups bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 5 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 Tablespoon honey or brown sugar
- 2 cups rinsed and drained raisins
- 1 Tablespoon baking soda
- cornmeal flour for dusting
- To make the sponge; stir the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.
- To make the dough; in the same mixing bowl, add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour, salt, cinnamon, sugar and honey. Stir until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough. In the last two minutes of stirring together, add in the raisins.
- Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes. The dough should be firm, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour-all the ingredients should be hydrated. If the dough seems too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not tacky.
- Immediately divide the dough into 4 1/2-ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired. (I made mine into 3 oz.)
- Form the pieces into rolls.
- Cover the rolls with a damp town and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
- Lightly spray 2-3 baking sheets with oil. Shape the bagels by sticking your thumb through the center and gently pull out, while turning the ball in a circle to form a bagel.
- Place the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pans. Lightly spray the bagels with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
- Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the "float test". Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats immediately, return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the fridge overnight (it can stay in the fridge for up to 2 days), (I put mine in the basement because it's cool down there and I didn't have enough room in my fridge). If the bagel doesn't float, return it the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats.
- The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500ºF. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon nearby.
- Remove the bagels from the fridge and gently drop them into the boiling water. Don't crowd the bagels in the pot. After 1 minute, gently flip them over and boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, boil for an additional 1 minute per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same greased pans with cornmeal.
- When all the bagels are boiled on one pan, place it in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees. After rotating the pan, lower the oven temperature to 450ºF, and continue baking for about 5-8 minutes, or until the bagels are light golden brown. While the bagels are baking, boil the other pan.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack completely before freezing, or 15 minutes before serving.
These freeze beautifully. Place in a freezer bag and freeze for many months. Thaw before toasting or eating.