I remember going to the St Lawrence Market on a school trip in high school, probably before seeing a show or something. Most of the details of the day are pretty foggy now, except for two things. The last thing I bought was a pair of wax lips, because who doesn’t love them:
The second last thing I bought was a fresh out of the oven boiled new york style bagel. It was one of the best things I’d ever eaten, straight out of the brown paper bag, no need for toasting, buttering, or spreading with cream cheese. It was just absolutely perfect exactly the way it was. The best bagel. I never found one that came even close to that St Lawrence Market bagel at any deli or bakery since, but that taste was still in my memory, and once I started making bread, bagels were high on my list.
I can’t even take credit for anything special here. I followed the flawless recipe perfected by Peter Reinhart in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. This is my go to bread making book, and the one that I’m slowly working my way through. So far I’m a master at this, the white bread loafs, cinnamon buns, and a few different types of crackers. It’s the only bread baking book I’ve bothered with so far too. Full of tons of useful pictures and straightforward descriptions. What I’m saying, is if you want to start making your own bread, start with this book.
They are a bit of work. You need to make and shape the bagels on one day, and then let them sit in the fridge over night before you boil and bake them. They are completely worth it though, as close to my memory of that perfect bagel as I’m ever going to get.
I took a few extra pictures this time around just for prepping them. Then forgot to continue taking them through the boiling process, so I’ll add them in next time. If you want to get straight to the recipe, just jump down to the bottom of the page.
After you’ve finished your dough, divide it into 4½ oz pieces. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you’ll make 13 evenly sized balls.
You shape the balls of dough just as you would a roll. If you haven’t done this before, don’t worry! Here’s a youtube video I made a few years ago showing you how to shape rolls. You cover these with a damp towel and let them rest for 20 minutes.
After the balls have rested for 20 minutes, it’s time to shape them into bagels. This is the easiest way for me. Poke a hole in the center with your thumb.
Now, you actually use two hands for this part, but I didn’t trust the kids to leave the dough alone long enough to get the tri-pod. Hold the dough kind of like a steering wheel, and just rotate it around, gently pulling the center bigger (aiming for a 2½” diameter hole), and keeping the dough as even all the way around. This is easy, trust me, I had Anna and Oliver doing it and I didn’t need to fix them after.
Now’s the hard part. Loosely cover the oil sprayed trays of bagels with plastic wrap, spray the tops of the dough, and put them in the fridge overnight.
This would be where you’d see those photos of boiling the bagels in water with a little bit of baking soda (two minutes on each side, dusting the trays with cornmeal, and putting them into the oven. Like I said though: the hard part is waiting until the next day. Once I was ready to bake, I totally forgot about pictures.
Instead, how about some to make you drool?
Make this, at least once, even if you think that making your own bagels is just crazy when they go on sale for $1.99 at the grocery store. You won’t be thinking like that once you taste them.