Last Friday, I decided to make bagels. I was walking home from work around 3pm (early-out Fridays are the best!), trying to decide how I was going to spend the next 2 hours of time before the boyfriend gets out of work. DC weather was hovering on a tornado watch with a severe thunderstorm warning, and the radar was starting to look pretty sketchy. Normally, I take Friday afternoons to do groceries or run other errands, but I was a little worried about the impending storm and getting myself and my groceries soaked. (DC is amazing and walking everywhere is awesome, but weather can really throw a wrench in your plans…)
About a block away from home, as the wind started picking up, I decided to forgo the grocery store trip. And of course thought about baking something instead. The first thing to pop in to my mind was bagels, which I’ve been wanting to bake for quite a while. The boyfriend is a native New Yorker, so he’s always raving about NY-style bagels (while complaining about not being able to find a good bagel in DC). And I was born in Montreal, so a good Montreal bagel is really hard to beat! But instead of trying to find a decent bagel in DC, why not just make my own?! I am a baker after all!
So I spent Friday afternoon making two dozen bagels, which were subsequently devoured at an event work-day on Saturday… However, I wasn’t totally happy with the way they turned out. They tasted great, but they were a little dry and kind of heavy. So Sunday afternoon, I decided to make a few modifications to the recipe and whip up another batch! And I think these ones turned out just about perfect… I look forward to playing around with the recipe some more to make more fun-flavored bagels! Tho, this time, I stuck with the basics: plain, poppy seed, sesame seed, and everything (my fave!).
Begin by assembling your ingredients for the dough.
You are going to need:
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs, separated (be sure no yolk gets in the whites)
- 2 packages yeast (Active Dry kind, not instant rise)
- 2 cups milk
- up to 7 cups flour
You are also going to need:
- Medium saucepan
- Small bowl
- Paddle attachment
- Dough hook
- Hand mixer
First, scald the milk. Pour the milk in to a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Let the milk come to a boil, and quickly turn off the heat. Pour approximately half a cup of the milk back in to the measuring cup and let cool to approximately 100-110° F.
Once the half-cup of milk cools, add the yeast packets and approximately 1 tablespoon of the sugar. (If the milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast.) Stir to dissolve. Set the yeast and milk mixture aside to proof.
In the bowl of a stand mixture, combine the shortening, egg yolks, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Using the paddle attachment, cream the ingredients together until light and fluffy. Add the scalded milk to the mixture and mix until combined.
Next, check the milk and yeast mixture. If the mixture has doubled in volume, the yeast is active. Add the yeast mixture, and stir to combine.
In a small clean bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. (I did this using a handheld mixer since I was using the stand mixer for the dough.) Fold the egg whites in to the milk/shortening mixture.
Next, add 6 cups of flour to the mixer. Switch to a dough hook, and slowly incorporate the flour.
If the dough is still wet, add a quarter cup of flour until the dough begins to form a ball, pulling away from the sides of the mixing bowl. (This took just under 7 cups of flour for me. The first time, I used the whole 7 cups the recipe called for, which is why I think they were too dry.)
Remove the dough from the mixer, and place on a clean counter. Knead well with your hands, until your dough is uniform. (This took me about 5 minutes.)
For the next step (time for the dough to rise!), you are going to need the following:
- Large bowl (I have a GIANT serving bowl that I got from Ikea for around $8. It’s perfect for when I need to do things like rise dough or mix recipes that are too big for the Kitchenaid. It’s a life saver sometimes…)
- Clean towel large enough to cover the bowl
- Vegetable oil or shortening
- Spray bottle filled with water
Take a large bowl and add a small coat of vegetable oil or shortening along the inside. This will make sure the dough does not stick to the bowl. (I added approximately a tablespoon of vegetable oil and spread it around with a paper towel.)
Place the kneaded dough in to the bottom of the bowl. Spray with a small amount of water (about 5 sprays) to keep the dough moist as it rises.
Cover the bowl with a towel and place in a warm place to rise 1 hour. An hour should be sufficient time for the dough to double in volume, but feel free to leave it for slightly longer if yours is rising slowly.
Tip: If above your fridge is clear, that’s usually a safe, warm spot to place the dough to rise. Do not place it above or next to a direct heat source. You don’t want to cook the dough, just make sure that there is enough ambient heat to help the yeast rise. I placed the bowl on a step-stool next to the fridge.
Once and hour has passed and the dough has doubled in volume, it is time to make bagels!
For the actual bagel making, you are going to need:
- A large pot
- Slotted spoon or wok-spoon (something like this works perfectly!)
- Cookie sheet
- Vegetable oil or shortening
- Pastry brush
- Egg wash, made with two egg whites and two tablespoons water
- Bagel toppings (salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc.)
First, fill the large pot with water and set over high heat. Bring to a boil while shaping your bagel dough. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat slightly so that the water is simmering. Also, pre-heat your oven to 425° F.
Next, tear off a small handful of dough and shape in to a bagel ring. Each handful should be slightly larger than a golf ball.
To shape the dough, knead it in your hands a little and shape it in to a patty. Use your thumbs to poke a hole in the middle of the patty and shape it in to a ring. (You can also do this by rolling it in to a snake and joining the ends together, but I found that this way was harder to get a good ring shape and some of them broke open during the cooking process. Overall, the patty way created a much better bagel shape…)
Repeat with the remaining dough. The recipe should yield around 2 dozen bagels, depending on how large your portions are. If you want small bagels, you can probably yield up to 3 dozen. Make your bagels slightly smaller than you would like them to be because they will puff up a bit more when they are cooked. (Compare the size in the above photo to the bagels in the photo below.)
Prepare your toppings. The basics are usually kosher salt, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds. For everything bagels, you will need the following:
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons minced onion (dried)
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (dried)
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl. For sesame or poppy bagels, mix the seeds with a small amount of salt (1/2 tablespoon salt for each tablespoon of seeds).
Next, boil the bagels. This is the step that makes them “authentic”, like a good New York or Montreal bagel. Carefully drop a few (my large soup pot nicely fits 3) bagels in to simmering water and let boil for 2-3 minutes.
While the first batch of bagels is boiling, grease your cookie sheet. (I did this with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil, spread around with a paper towel.)
Once the bagels are done boiling, carefully remove them and place them on your greased cookie sheet.
Using a pastry brush, brush a small coating of the egg wash on the bagels and sprinkle with toppings. (For plain bagels, sprinkle just a tiny bit of kosher salt.) Flip the bagels carefully because they will be hot, and repeat on the other side.
Repeat with the remaining bagels. I fit 6 bagels per cookie sheet, so I popped the first one in the oven, and then continued boiling and topping with the rest while they baked using multiple cookie sheets.
Bake in pre-heated oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. If they are cooking unevenly, rotate your cookie sheet half-way through. Let cool slightly and use a spatula to remove the bagels from the cookie sheet. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Enjoy your fresh-baked bagels either right away or toast and add butter or cream cheese. The first time I made them, the boyfriend and I ate them the next morning toasted with smoked salmon! Store leftover bagels in a Tupperware or paper bag. (Supposedly the paper bag is best or else they can get a little soggy. If you’re planning to toast them anyways, this doesn’t matter as much tho…)
Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading!