It’s kind of a shame that this recipe has really long instructions because it makes them seem daunting to make at home. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, it is a two-day process but it’s an easy two-day process and the results are totally worth it.
I’ve tried several bagel recipes, including the well-regarded Hamelman recipe, but I always come back to the Reinhart recipe from Bread Bakers Apprentice. I love the texture (pleasantly chewy) and the flavour (bagel-like as opposed to a bagel-shaped bread roll).
There are two out-of-the-ordinary ingredients in this recipe. Malt Powder/Syrup and High-Gluten Flour. Look for malt syrup in health food stores or larger grocery stores (I use Eden Organic brand malt syrup). I understand that malt powder is easily found at beer making supply stores, but I haven’t actually gone to look there, just using the syrup instead. Honey or brown sugar can be used as an alternative to the malt syrup but it’s really not the same flavour. High gluten flour is easily found in bulk food stores (Bulk Barn has it) or specialty baking supply stores. If you can’t find it, just use all bread flour. I have never made these with 100% high gluten flour, instead just adding a bit of it to the bread flour. Canadian bread flour is pretty high in gluten already and it seems to work quite well pretty much on it’s own.
These bagels freeze beautifully, so it’s great to make a dozen and freeze what you can’t eat in a day or two for later.
Reinhart’s Homemade Bagels
Summary: Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Bakers Apprentice. Makes 12 large or 16 smaller bagels. The larger size is shown in my photos. I don’t really recommend mixing this in your Kitchen Aid, as it is a large amount of dough and might be more than the mixer can handle.
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour (I used 3 1/2 cups bleached bread flour and 1/2 cup high gluten flour)
- 2 1/2 cups water, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 3 3/4 cups (17 ounces) unbleached bread flour (I used bleached as unbleached bread flour isn’t easily available around here)
- 2 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar
- For boiling
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- For the trays
- Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
- Topping Options
- Kosher Salt, Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, rehydrated dried minced garlic or onions
- Day One:
- Make the sponge, by stirring the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like a pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours (the mixture should be foamy and bubbly).
- Make the dough, by sprinkling the additional yeast over the sponge and stirring it in. Then add 3 cups of the dough flour and all of the salt and malt powder or syrup. Stir until the ingredients come together to form a rough ball. Empty bowl and any loose flour onto a counter/working surface and begin kneading, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour (or as needed) to stiffen the dough. Continue kneading for at least 10 minutes (I will knead for 3 or 4 minutes, leave it for a bit, knead for 3 or 4 minutes more, etc). You’ll find the dough will transform from “scraggy” to smooth. The dough should be firm, stiff but still pliable and smooth. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
- Immediately divide the dough into 4 1/2 ounce pieces (use a scale, if you have one or if not, simply divide into 12 equal sized pieces). For smaller bagels, form into 3 1/2 ounce pieces or divide into 16 equal sized pieces. Form the pieces into balls. Place balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
- Shape the bagels by poking a hole in the centre of the ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible trying to avoid thick and thin spots.
- Place shaped bagels back onto baking sheet. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float. Return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough. (*My bagels have always floated on the first test).
- Day Two:
- When you are ready to bake the bagels, preheat the oven to 500° F with the two racks set in the upper and lower thirds of the oven (2nd position from top and 2nd position from bottom). Bring a large, wide pot of water to a boil and add the 1 Tbsp. of baking soda.
- Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper, spray lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal, if desired. Prepare bowls with toppings (I usually do poppy seed, sesame seed and “everything”, which is a mixture of poppy seeds, sesame seeds and garlic salt or powder). Also have a small bowl of kosher salt prepared.
- When water is boiling, remove the 2 or 3 bagels from the refrigerator leaving the rest in the refrigerator to stay cool. (I like to stretch out the hole a little bit before boiling, if they’ve closed up a bit while sitting). Gently drop them into the water top-side down, boiling only as many as comfortably fit. After 1 minute flip them over and boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side (I usually do just 1 minute per side). Remove bagels to prepared pans (don’t worry about any foam attached to them, it will disappear and don’t worry about letting the water drip off too much before transferring. The wetter they are the easier it is to get the toppings to stick). Top the bagels as soon as they come out of the water with a sprinkling of kosher salt and any other toppings you like. Repeat with remaining bagels, taking out only the ones you will be boiling right away and leaving the rest in the fridge until needed. (*Don’t crowd the bagels on the baking sheets. They will expand and I find they don’t brown evenly if there isn’t some space between them).
- When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the two shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450° F. and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. (Mine usually take 10 minutes more to get to a nice golden colour and I rotate the pans again during that time.)
- Remove the pans from the oven and remove the bagels to cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.
- For Cinnamon Raisin Bagels: Increase the yeast in the final dough to 1 teaspoon, and add 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar to the final dough. Rinse 2 cups of loosely packed raisins with warm water to wash off surface sugar, acid, and natural wild yeast. Add the raisins during the final 2 minutes of mixing. Proceed as directed, but do not top the bagels with any garnishes. When they come out of the oven and are still hot, you can brush the tops with melted butter and dip them in cinnamon sugar to create a cinnamon-sugar crust, if desired.
Prep time: 30 min | Cook time: 15 min | Total time: 3 hours
Number of servings (yield): 12 bagels