TWD: Bagels


This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie is bagels, and I get to host! That means you’ll find the recipe at the bottom of this post.

I’ve made bagels before and though I’ve always enjoyed it (it can be a bit of a process), they usually turned out kind of thin and wrinkly. These, however, turned out beautifully, and I got the ultimate seal of approval when the girls told me that they tasted better than Einstein’s bagels!


I did change a few minor things:

~ Instead of six cups of bread flour I used four cups of bread flour and two of whole wheat flour.

~ After the initial rise, I punched the dough down and put it in the fridge overnight (the recipe does say this is an option).


~ I only let the bagels boil for 30 seconds per side instead of the 90. In my experience, bagels that boil for too long get too chewy/tough.

~ For the first half-batch of five I sprinkled the tops with kosher salt and dried onion (the onion looks like it got a bit overdone, but they tasted fine. I obviously missed the part about soaking the onion in some water first), and for the second batch I sprinkled sea salt and onion powder. Both were delicious, and made excellent bagel sandwiches.


~ I didn’t bother with a flour-covered towel. I just put the formed bagels on the flour-dusted countertop without a problem.

~ Tossing water and ice into the bottom of the oven did freak me out a little, so I covered a pan with foil and tossed ice cubes onto that instead.

~ I used my stand mixer for the dough, and used the instructions for that in the recipe below.

from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

Makes 10 large bagels

2 tablespoons (approximately) unsalted butter, melted
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2-1/4 cups tepid water
2 tablespoons (approximately) sugar
3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon salt
1 – 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (optional)
6 cups (approximately) high-gluten flour, bread flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour

Brush the side of a large (about 8 quart) bowl with some of the melted butter; set aside. Reserve the remaining melted butter for coating the top of the dough.

Mixing and Kneading Whisk the yeast into 1/4 cup of the tepid water in the mixer’s bowl. Add a pinch of sugar and let the mixture rest until the yeast has dissolved and is creamy.

Fit the machine with the dough hook and add the remaining 2 cups of water to the mixing bowl and add the shortening. Add the yeast mixture along with 2 tablespoons sugar, the salt, and the black pepper, if you’re using it, and mix on low to blend. With the machine still on low, gradually add 5-1/2 to 6 cups of the flour, mixing for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the ingredients are blended. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead for about 6 minutes, adding additional flour by the tablespoon until the dough is smooth and elastic. (At this point, the dough may still be slightly sticky and it may not clean the sides and bottom of the bowl completely – that’s OK).

Rise Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the buttered mixing bowl. Brush the top of the dough with a little melted butter, cover the bowl with buttered plastic wrap, and top with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until it doubles in bulk.

Chilling the Dough Deflate the dough, cover as before, and refrigerate for 4 hours, or, if it’s more convenient, overnight.

When you’re ready to make the bagels, position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 500° F. Brush baking sheets with vegetable oil or spray and dust with cornmeal.

To create steam in the oven, you’ll be tossing ice cubes and water onto the oven floor. If you don’t think your oven floor is up to this — it can be tricky with a gas oven — put a heavy skillet or roasting pan on the oven floor and preheat it as well.

While the oven preheats, fill a stockpot with water and bring the water to a rapid boil.

Line 2 baking sheets or trays with kitchen towels. Rub flour into 1 of the towels and place both sheets close to your work surface.

Shaping the Dough Deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half; cover and chill one piece of the dough while you work with the other. Cut the dough into 5 equal pieces; work with 1 piece at a time and cover the remaining pieces with a towel.

To form a bagel and develop the gluten cloak that will give it its structure, draw up the dough from the bottom, stretch it, and pinch it at the top. Keep pulling the dough up and pinching it until you have a perfectly round, tightly packed ball of dough with a little topknot or pleat at the top. Turn the dough over so that the knot is against the work surface and plunge your index finger into the center of the dough. Wiggle your finger around the hole to stretch it, then lift the bagel, hook it over the thumb of one hand and the index finger of the other, and start rotating the dough, circling your thumb and finger and elongating the hole to a diameter of 2 to 2-1/2 inches. (At this point, the dough will look more like a piece in a ringtoss game than a bagel, but it will soon boil to bagelhood.) Put the bagel on the baking sheet with the floured towel, and cover with another towel. Shape the remaining 4 pieces of dough into bagels. (You’ll shape the refrigerated dough after you’ve completed boiling and baking these bagels.)

Water Bath
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Add the sugar and baking soda to the boiling water. With a large slotted skimming spoon or slotted spatula, lower the bagels, one at a time, into the boiling water. Don’t crowd them — the bagels should swim around in the water without touching one another; it’s better to boil them in batches than to cram them into the pot all at one time. The bagels will sink to the bottom of the pot when you put them in, then rise to the top. Once the bagels have surfaced, boil for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on each side, flipping them over gently with the skimmer. Remove the bagels, shaking the skimmer over the stockpot to get rid of some of the excess water, and put them on the baking sheet with the unfloured towel, keeping the smoothest side of the bagel up. (Do not discard the sugar-water — you’ll use it to boil the dough that is still in the fridge.)

Keeping the smoothest sides up, transfer the bagels to the prepared baking sheet. Work quickly, because the wet bagels have a tendency to stick to the towel.

The Glaze and Toppings
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon cold water
Sesame, poppy, and/or caraway seeds; kosher or sea salt, minced onions sauteed in vegetable oil; and/or dried garlic chips or dehydrated onions softened in hot water (optional)

Whisk the egg whites and cold water together until the whites are broken up and brush each bagel with the glaze. Try not to let the glaze drip onto the baking sheet or it will glue down the bagels. Don’t worry if the bagels look wrinkled — they’ll smooth out in the oven. Brush with another coat of glaze and, if you’re using a topping, or more than one, sprinkle it, or them, evenly over the bagels now.

Baking the Bagels Put 4 ice cubes in a 1-pint measuring cup and add 1/4 cup cold water. Put the bagels into the oven and immediately toss the ice cubes and water onto the oven floor (or into the hot pan). Quickly close the oven door to capture the steam produced by the ice, turn the oven temperature down to 450° F, and bake the bagels for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the bagels remain in the oven for 5 more minutes. Open the oven door and leave the bagels in the oven for another 5 minutes. Transfer the bagels to a rack and cool. Before baking the next batch of bagels, be certain to bring the oven temperature back to 500° F.

While the first batch of bagels is baking, cut and shape the remaining dough. Boil, glaze, and bake these bagels just as you did the first batch.

Storing Cooled bagels can be kept for 1 day in a paper bag. For longer storage, pack into airtight plastic bags and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

* This was a long one — please forgive any typos!

54 Responses

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