Saturday, April 12, 2014

New York Style Bagels

I've never been to New York, so I can't vouch for the authenticity of these bagels, but they're good, trust me. In true NY style, or so I've been told, they are chewier and denser than bagels you may find elsewhere. I've tried them with several different toppings and so far, my favorite is sesame. The sesame seeds add a fragrant nutty toastiness and allow you to still appreciate the bagel's own flavors.

Once you know what things to keep in mind, I find these bagels very simple to make. They're similar to making pretzels in that you have to boil the dough before you bake them, but in this recipe, there's no baking soda in the water which I prefer. You do have to keep an eye on the dough so it doesn't rise for too long, but the steps are not difficult. You don't have to be super delicate with the dough. As long as the bagels pass the float test, you don't have to worry about them rising too much because they're meant to be a bit dense. Unlike typical bread recipes where you're aiming to keep as much moisture in the dough as possible. For bagels, you actually want to add as much flour into the dough as possible.
Of the few bagel recipes I've tried, this one worked the best and it can be done in one day. This recipe was one of the first that I saw when I started reading blogs and it's on quite a few blogs because it works. I might try using all purpose flour to make some softer California style bagels for one of my sisters, but I urge you to try this one first.

Recipe adapted from Ultimate Bread via TSG
Makes 8 bagels

2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110-115 deg F)
3 1/2 cups (500 g) bread flour, plus more for kneading
1 1/2 tsp fine salt

To 1/2 cup of the warm water, add the sugar, then the yeast, do not stir. Let the mixture sit for five minutes before stirring to dissolve.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook or in a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture. Pour in about half of the remaining 3/4 cup of warm water. Mix the dough on low speed or with a wooden spoon until it comes together to form a firm ball of dough. Add in the remaining water as needed.

Try to mix in as much additional flour as possible kneading with your hands or a stand mixer for about 10 minutes. If it starts getting tough for the stand mixer to knead the dough, switch to kneading it by hand. You want to end up with a moist, yet very firm dough in the end.
Place the dough in a large bowl brushed lightly with oil, cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, about 1 - 1 1/2 hrs. Punch the dough down and let it rest for 10 min.

Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Shape each piece into a dough ball by pulling the dough into itself from the top to the bottom while turning in a circular motion so as to create more tension and smoothness on the surface of the dough ball. This may be done with one or two hands. (More detailed pics available at TSG)

Press a finger through the center of each dough ball to form a ring shape. Stretch the bagel so that the center hole is about 1/3 the width of the bagel. Place each bagel on a lightly oiled lined baking sheet. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let them rest for 10-20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 deg F in the meantime and bring a large pot of water to a boil.

To test if the bagels are ready, place a bagel into a small bowl of water. The bagel should float within 10 seconds. If it doesn't, dry the test bagel and let it continue to rest, covered with a damp towel. Check every 10 minutes or so until the bagel floats.

When the bagel floats easily, you are ready to boil the bagels. Gently place as many bagels as you are comfortable handling at one time into the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute(up to 2 minutes for chewier bagels), then flip them to the other side and boil for another minute. With a slotted spoon, move the bagels to a lined baking sheet lightly coated with oil.

Top the bagels with desired toppings as they come out of the water so that the toppings stick. Once all the bagels have been boiled, bake them for 20 minutes on the middle rack, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool for a few minutes before slicing into them.

Bagels will last for several days in an airtight container. Wrap in foil and reheat in a toaster oven or slice in half and toast.

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