Lane grew up in Queens, NY where a good bagel isn’t too hard to come by. Being Connecticut-grown, my definition of a “great” bagel was a little more lax than Lane’s. Around here, the places I’ll grab a bagel from are pretty limited, and the bagels as they compare to the ones we stop for any time we have occasion to pass through Queens are okay, but not great. Yes, I have become a bagel snob.A great bagel should have a yeasty, soft and doughy but not too bready interior. The outside should have a crunch to it but not actually be crunchy. As far as a New York bagel goes, some people claim it’s the New York tap water they use for boiling the bagels that makes a New York bagel so unique. I had been leaving bagel making to the pros, and indulging Lane’s belief that without New York water I couldn’t possibly make anything to rival a New York bagel.
These bagels, boiled in Connecticut tap water (okay, and this article) dispel that theory. Yes, water is an important part of bagel making. Boiling the bagels before baking them is what gives them a chewy interior, and skipping this step (or steaming them instead) isn’t going to give you the same interior as a great New York bagel by far. The only thing that keeps these bagels from permanently ending my need to stop in Queens for bagels is that the dough isn’t fermented which means the depth of flavor is slightly less noticeable than that of the gold standard in bagels. Other than that, these are perfection. Making bagels at home, while time-consuming, isn’t too difficult and the results blow anything you can get at a grocery store out of the water. The exterior has the required crunch, and the interior is soft and not too chewy. I did use the bread machine to mix and knead the dough, but these could be made by hand or using a stand mixer as well. The finished product is about four inches in diameter, and these are going to be a staple in our house.
to make the bagels:
- 1 C. warm water
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 C. bread flour
- 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 3 quarts boiling water
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. cornmeal
- 2 Tbsp. melted butter
Place the warm water, salt, sugar, flour and yeast in the pan of a bread machine in the order listed (or the order recommended by the manufacturer). Or, combine the ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Select the dough setting and wait for the cycle to complete.
If not using a bread machine, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes until dough forms a smooth but slightly sticky ball. Cover and let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes, then knead on a lightly floured surface for another 15 minutes. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes and then proceed as directed below.
When the cycle is complete, let the dough rest for about ten minutes on a lightly floured surface.
Cut the dough into 8 equal portions and roll each piece into a ball.
Flatten the ball, then poke a hole in the middle of each flattened ball with your thumb.
Twirl the dough on your finger or thumb to enlarge the hole, and to even out the dough around the hole.
Cover the bagels with a clean cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile bring the 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, then stir in the sugar.
Sprinkle the cornmeal onto an ungreased baking sheet.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Carefully place the bagels into the boiling water.
Boil for 30 seconds, then flip and boil for another 30 seconds.
Drain the bagels briefly on a clean towel before placing them onto the cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet.
Brush the tops of the bagels with the melted butter.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until well browned.
Makes 8 bagels.
Source: adapted from Thoroughly Modern Housewife