Homemade Bagels Step-by-Step
*Note: I never have bread flour on hand, so I always use all-purpose flour, subbing 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten in for every cup of flour (or 1 tablespoon gluten for about every 5 ounces of flour if you prefer to weigh your ingredients). For this doubled recipe, I used 16 ounces of whole wheat flour, about 3 ounces of gluten and made up the rest of the 34 ounces with all-purpose flour.
*Makes 8 bagels
1 tablespoon instant yeast
4 cups (17 ounces) bread flour (see note above for variations)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) warm water
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Manual/Mixer Method: To make this dough by hand or in a mixer, combine all of the dough ingredients and knead vigorously, by hand for 10 to 15 minutes, or by machine on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes. Since a high-protein bread flour is used here (or a combination of all-purpose flour and gluten), it takes a bit more effort and time to develop the gluten. The dough will be stiffer than other soft yeast doughs but will still be pliable and smooth once it has finished kneading. It should be stiff and floured enough not to leave much residue on your fingers after pinching a piece but not so stiff that you can't easily pinch off pieces of dough and work with it. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with lightly greased plastic wrap. Set it aside to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until it is noticeably puffy.
Bread Machine Method: Place all of the dough ingredients in the pan of the machine, program the machine for Dough or Manual, and press Start. Check the dough after 10 minutes; it should be quite stiff, and won't have formed a smooth ball. The dough will feel quite firm when you poke your finger into it. Allow the machine to complete its cycle, then complete bagels as instructed below.
Transfer the puffed/risen dough to a work surface and divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll it into a smooth, round ball. Place the balls on a lined or lightly greased baking tray and cover lightly. Let them rest for 30 minutes. They'll puff up very slightly.
Once they have rested, one-by-one, use your thumb to poke a hole through the center of each ball then twirl the dough and use your other fingers to stretch the hole until it is about 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The entire bagel will be around 4 inches across. Place the shaped bagels on a lined baking tray (the same one that you'll bake them on).
Prepare the water bath by heating the water and sugars to a very gentle boil in a large, wide-diameter pan. You can use a large pot or a deep straight-edged skillet. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
Transfer the bagels, three or four at a time, to the simmering water. Increase the heat under the pan to bring the water back up to a gently simmering boil, if necessary. Cook the bagels for 2 minutes, flip them over using a wide spatula, and cook 1 minute more. Using a wide spatula, carefully remove the bagels from the water and place them back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
Top the bagels with your desired ingredients. If you are going to use a dry topping, such as sesame seeds or poppy seeds, whisk together 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon water and brush each bagel with the mixture before topping heavily with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc. If using Asiago or another cheese, there is no need to brush the bagels with an egg white glaze, simply place the shredded cheese on the bagels.
Bake the bagels for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're as deep brown as you like. Remove the bagels from the oven, and cool completely on a wire rack.
I only bake one sheet of bagels at a time, even though I usually double the batch and have four sheets of bagels ready to be baked. The bagels that have been boiled, placed on the baking pans, topped with cheese and then sat and rested for 20-30 minutes while the other bagels baked - well...they actually turned out more rounded and golden brown than the ones that were baked right away. So there is no harm in boiling all the bagels at once and letting them hang out on the baking sheets while the other bagels bake.