Chewy and Delicious Bagels
My Search For the Perfect Bagel
When I was five years old, I had my first bagel. Our family was on its way to a camp in upstate New York and we had to drive around New York City to get there. We stopped at a Jewish Bakery on the outskirts of the city and my dad ran in and bought six bagels, one for each of us. After that first bite of my bagel, I never ate anything so slow in all my life….I savored every single chewy bite of goodness….and thus began my lifelong obsession with BAGELS.
My mother, while we were growing up, bought bagels from the freezer section at the grocery store because we did not have access to a Jewish Bakery where we lived. They were less than edible but we ate them anyways. When I was in high school, grocery stores started to make them in their bakeries but they were just a step up from the freezer bagels, way too dry and bready and not nearly as chewy or even close to the Jewish Bakery bagel. Then, when my husband and I were still young newlyweds living in a sketchy apartment above a dinghy video store in a small South Jersey town, a tiny “gourmet” food shop opened across the street from us. One morning, my hubby said that we should go check this “gourmet” shop out and see what they offered. So, we took a walk across the street and to my pleasant surprise….the owner made fresh bagels along with raspberry and cream cheese filled croissant rolls and other pastries for breakfast time and various dinner dishes that you could carry home and heat up. I only cared about the bagels. For the next two years, we breakfasted on hot bagels with cream cheese and hazelnut coffee whenever we had two extra dimes to rub together. Ohh….they were so good! But, bye and bye, the little shop closed and I was once again fresh bagel-less!
Over the years since then, I have tried bagels from every shop whose path I crossed that offered them ….finding decent ones here and there, but never as good as the Jewish Bakery bagel from my childhood. In the last ten years, I have searched and researched bagel recipes, trying each one, discarding some, tweaking others, mixing others together, making my own additions and subtractions. I seriously have come up with the best homemade bagel recipe….and let me tell you…no bagel anywhere will taste as good as the one you make yourself when it first comes out of the oven….NONE! Friends cannot resist them, husbands love them, kids devour them….and YOU will never be happier to sit down with a hot cup of hazelnut coffee or whatever coffee you choose, and bite into a freshly baked bagel….made by your own hands.
So, I am going to share my recipe. I hope someone out there who is like me and has an obsession with bagels will try this recipe and find it amazing. Don’t be afraid by the length of it….it is all in stages and will go faster than you think and will totally be worth it!
- 3 c. hot water
- 1 T. & 1 tsp. organic barley malt syrup
- 3 T. & 1 tsp. dark Karo syrup
- 2 T. yeast
- 5 - 7 cups Combined All purpose & bread flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- large pan or dutch oven 1/3 full of boiling water
- butter for pans
- cornmeal for pans
- 1 - 2 egg whites, whipped with fork
- 1 - 2 T. raw sugar (added to boiling water)
- Pour 3 cups of hot water into a large mixing bowl. Add the honey and dark corn syrup and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle yeast over water and stir to dissolve. Wait for yeast to begin to grow (bloom).
- Once yeast has bloomed, add 3 cups of bread flour and 2 t. of salt and stir until sticky dough is formed. Add remaining flour ½ cup at a time (you may not need all the rest of the flour) mixing thoroughly, just until dough no longer clings to side of bowl.
- Dump dough onto floured counter and knead until dough is no longer sticky, adding a little flour after each few knead turns until dough is soft and elastic.
- Place dough in a large buttered bowl. Cover with a warm, wet tea towel and let rise for about 40 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Do not punch dough down, just dump dough onto a lightly floured counter. Cut the dough into 16 (for larger bagels) or 20 (for smaller) equal pieces. Form each dough piece into a ball by turning the edges underneath and inward. Once a smooth ball is formed, poke your thumb through the center and work the ball into a ring. Repeat for each piece of dough. Place on floured board and allow to rise 20 minutes or until your water is boiling.
- While bagels are rising, bring the water in your dutch oven to a boil. Add the raw sugar (plain sugar can also be used) to the water. Reduce the heat to a rolling simmer and add 2 bagels at a time. Place the lid on the pan and boil for 25 seconds, flip the bagels, place the lid back on and boil for another 25 seconds. Remove bagels from water with a spider or slotted spoon and drain on a clean dish towel. Once drained, place on prepared baking sheets that have been buttered and sprinkled with cornmeal. Repeat until all bagels are boiled.
- If making 20 bagels, this will take four cookie sheet sized pans. Once the first six bagels are boiled, drained and placed on a pan, brush each bagel with the egg white wash. (This will make your bagels shiny and give them a beautiful crust on the outside). Place the pan in the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 17 minutes. Repeat the process until all bagels are boiled and baked.
- Remove bagels to a wire rack and allow to cool or treat yourself to one right out of the oven. DELICIOUS!! You can freeze these bagels in plastic freezer bags. They keep for quite a while, if you can keep everyone out of them!!