Homemade bagels are never perfected. They can always be tweaked and improved upon. The goal posts shift. Tastes evolve. New ingredients and techniques highlight different strengths and weaknesses.
My current recipe is based off of this recipe by Bruce Ezzell. The main difference from my initial forays into home bagel making is that it includes honey in addition to malt for flavor, and that it doesn’t require hogging the refrigerator with two half-sheet pans overnight while the bagels are resting. Space is at a premium in my refrigerator, and the chore of clearing off most of two shelves was one that seriously cramped my bagel-baking style.
This approach uses an overnight starter that can sit at room temperature (I give it a push by adding in some of my own sourdough starter for extra flavor). The dough is finished the next day and then baked the same morning. The resulting bagels have a great chewy texture and flavorful crust.
- 100 g sourdough starter (100% hydration; if not using, add 50 g more flour and 50 g more water)
- 450 g high gluten flour
- 450 g water
- 3 g instant yeast
- All off the starter
- 20 g salt
- 20 g malt syrup
- 20 g honey
- 475 g high gluten flour
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the starter ingredients until the mixture is homogenous then leave covered at room temperature overnight.
- The next morning, add the salt, malt syrup, and honey and mix with a dough hook.
- When combined, leave the mixer running at the lowest speed and slowly add int eh additional flour.
- Keep kneeling at lowest speed for about 6-8 minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Transfer to the counter and rest covered with a damp towel for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 25 g sodium hyroxide in 5 liter of water in a large pot (or scale as desired) and bring to a simmer. Set the oven racks to the middle-low and middle-high positions and preheat to 450° F.
- Divide into even balls of about 112 g each (or whatever size you prefer). Roll the balls on the countertop to ensure they are smooth (you may need to spray a little water on the countertop to seal any cracks) and cover for 10 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, place a silicone mat or parchment paper in two sheet pans and spray with cooking spray.
- Working one ball at a time, use your thumbs to push a hole through the center of the dough, then gentle rotate the dough ring in your hand until it is smooth. Place on the sheet pan. When each sheet pan is full, cover loosely with plastic wrap.
- Let rest for 10 minutes, then flip each bagel gently. The bagels should puff slightly in the next 5 minutes or so. To test, place one bagel in a bowl of cold water. It should float within a few seconds. If not, the bagels need more resting.
- Place a few bagels at a time in the simmering water. Cook for 1 minute, flip each bagel over, then cook for another minute.
- Transfer to a rack, add toppings as desired. Dust the now free areas of the sheet pan with cornmeal and put the bagels back.
- When all bagels have been boiled, transfer both racks to the oven and cook for 7.5 minutes. Swap and rotate the racks and then cook for another 7.5 minutes.
- Transfer the bagels to a cooling rack until cool, then enjoy.
Note: You will need a powerful mixer and may need to switch to using your hands given the stiffness of the dough. This will stress your mixer. When I tried even the second speed on my KitchenAid professional model, one of the tabs holding the bowl in place snapped off.