NY Style Bagels

Amy's New York Style BagelsWho Needs Noah?
NY Style Bagels have been a popular topic lately. The rise of the Boichick Bagels from Berkeley (as well as the article in the New York Times) have led to bagel lovers searching far and wide to get a taste of what the Times called the best bagels in the country. That’s what they said. I’m not trying to start a fight. I know how adamant people can be about their bagels. I do, however, propose another way to enjoy a great bagel.

Many of us in the last year have turned to bread making—as anyone looking for flour and yeast last April can attest. Thousands of people were introduced to the world of sourdough. I myself got back into bread making but I went a different direction. A few months ago, I had this idea that I wanted something different for breakfast that weekend, but I was tired of the usual sweeter stuff. My daughter had been making some soft pretzels that she saw online. And, watching her prompted me to want to learn about making bagels. (The concept is somewhat similar)

The idea may sound daunting but it’s really not. It does require an overnight rise in your fridge. So, planning ahead is key. Admittedly, the process would have been harder had I not seen a video on YouTube from NY Times contributor Clair Saffitz. As a visual learner, watching this video made the whole process easier. If you are interested in trying to make bagels, I highly recommend you watch this 10-minute video first.

When making bagels, be prepared for a workout. You will be kneading this dough for at least 20 minutes. It’s the perfect excuse to miss arm day…

My first batch of bagels was kind of wonky. I followed Claire’s recipe exactly and while they tasted good, even though I left them in the oven a couple minutes too long, I struggled with shaping them. Ultimately, I gave up on the rope/snake version and tried shaping by making a hole in the middle of the dough ball and stretching it out. (She mentions that method briefly in the video) The result was a puffy, perfectly chewy bagel that looks more like the bagel shape I am used to seeing. (Not sure if that makes it any less authentic?…) This has remained my go-to method of making bagels ever since.

I have yet to make my bagels with toppings on them like everything seasoning or sesame seeds. Personally, I prefer a plain bagel so that I can go savory or sweet depending on my mood. Also, you may or may not get a full dozen out of the dough. I weigh all of my ingredients on a scale and I have never had the same quantity result. Don’t worry if that happens to you. It is what it is…

I have also learned that doubling the batch is a requirement if you have teenage boys in your home. A single batch is great if you just want bagels for a Sunday morning. If you want to have some, say for the week, it’s best to make a double batch. Whatever you don’t eat that day can be sliced and put in the freezer. All you do is grab one and throw it in the toaster for a perfect weekday breakfast.

Another word of advice? Line your cookie sheets with parchment and/or spray them lightly! The water and malt syrup bath can make them stick to the sheet, which is a bummer.

NY Style Bagels Recipe
Adapted from the New York Times Cooking
Yields 12 bagels (most of the time)

2-1/4 cups/530 milliliters lukewarm water (105 to 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons barley malt syrup (we use Eden Organics)
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (about 2-1/4 teaspoons)
6-1/2 cups/885 grams bread flour (or use 6 cups bread flour and 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour), plus more for kneading
2 tablespoons/17 grams Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1 tablespoon/17 grams Morton kosher salt*
Oil with a neutral flavor for greasing the baking sheets

*Tip: When measured by volume, Morton salt packs more densely than Diamond, making it about twice as salty. For consistent measurements across brands, either weigh it with a scale, or use half the volume of Morton.

For boiling
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup/60 milliliters barley malt syrup, plus more as needed

Make the dough
Pour 1/2 cup/120 milliliters of lukewarm water into a small bowl. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the barley malt syrup and the packet of yeast until both dissolve. Let sit until the mixture foams (about 5 minutes).

In a large bowl, combine the bread flour and kosher salt (and whole-wheat flour, if using), and make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture and the remaining 1-3/4 cups/420 milliliters of lukewarm water. Mix, using the flexible spatula or wooden spoon, until the dough is shaggy.

Knead the dough
Knead the mixture in the bowl several times, continuously folding it over and onto itself and pressing down firmly to bring it together in a solid mass. Next, turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Continue kneading until there are no dry spots. Add more flour only if needed to prevent stubborn sticking. Continue kneading until you have a stiff but very smooth dough that is still slightly tacky (this kneading process should take 15 to 20 minutes).

Allow the dough to rise
Gather the dough into a ball, dust it lightly with flour, and place it in a large, clean bowl, seam-side down. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size (about 1-1/2 to 2 hours).

Form the Bagels
Using your fist, lightly punch down the dough inside the bowl to remove some of the air. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface.

Using a bench scraper, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. You can either eyeball the size or using a scale to weigh out 4 1/3-ounce/125-gram pieces. If you prefer a slightly smaller bagel, which is more traditional, you could make a baker’s dozen (13) and weigh out 4-ounce portions.

Shape each piece into a tight ball.

Working one ball at a time, gather all the irregular edges and pinch them together firmly to make a teardrop shape. Place the dough seam-side down on the surface and cup your hand down and over top of the dough in a loose grip (like a claw, or like you’re playing the piano).

Move your hand in a rapid circular motion, dragging the dough across the surface until it has a high, tight dome. Repeat with all of the pieces, then cover them with the damp towel and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. (This is a good point to watch the video for clarity.)

Form the holes
Take your finger and poke a hole straight through the center of the ball of dough, then widen and stretch it to even out the thickness all the way around until you have a ring that measures about 4 inches across. As you form each ring, place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet, arranging six to a sheet and spacing evenly.

Proof the bagels
When you’ve formed all the bagels, cover each baking sheet with a piece of plastic, followed by a damp towel to create a sealed, moist environment for the bagels to proof slowly. Transfer the baking sheets to the refrigerator and chill at least 4 hours and up to 24. This is when you can put them in the fridge overnight for finishing in the morning.

Preheat the oven
About 2 hours before you would like to serve the bagels, arrange an oven rack in the center position and heat the oven to 450 ºF. Fill a large, wide Dutch oven halfway with water and place it on the stove. (Don’t heat the water yet.) Set a wire rack next to the Dutch oven.

Check to see if the bagels are proofed
Remove one baking sheet from the refrigerator. Fill a small bowl with room temperature water, then carefully peel one ring of dough off the parchment paper and transfer it to the bowl. It should float,** indicating that the bagels are ready to boil and bake. Remove the ring from the water, pat it dry on a towel and place back on the baking sheet. Remove the other baking sheet from the refrigerator.

**Note: If your bagel doesn’t float, let both sheets sit at room temperature, covered, to finish rising. Wait 30 minutes and check to see if the dough floats. If not, cover and wait 10 minutes and check again. Repeat another 10 minute rise if necessary.

Boil the bagels
Set the Dutch oven over high heat and bring to a boil. Whisk in the baking soda and 1/4 cup of barley malt syrup. You want the water to look like strong black tea, so add more barley malt syrup by the tablespoon until it does. Bring everything back to a boil, reduce the heat, if necessary, to maintain a gentle boil, and skim any foam from the surface.

Uncover one baking sheet and carefully transfer as many bagels as will comfortably fit in one layer to the Dutch oven, leaving some room for them to bob around. Boil for 1 minute, turning halfway through.

Use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer the bagels to the wire rack and repeat with the remaining bagels on the first sheet. Sprinkle the bagels with any desired toppings. The bagels will swell in the water, then deflate when removed, but they will puff up again in the oven.

Bake the bagels
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the bagels are deeply brown (about 20 to 25 minutes). Rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees after 12 minutes. (Watch your bagels in case your oven runs hot. When using my oven, I only cook them for 10 minutes, rotate and do 10 minutes more.)

While the first sheet of bagels is in the oven, repeat the boiling and coating process with the second sheet, adding more toppings as needed. Transfer the second sheet to the oven when the first is finished.

Allow the to bagels cool completely on a wire rack before slicing with a serrated knife.



Comments are closed.