Nov 22, 2021

LET’S DISH! Let’s Talk About Bagels

By MaryAnn Miano

This December, true carb-lovers celebrate “Have a Bagel Day!” Who doesn’t love the ooey gooey, chewy characteristics of this beloved bread? What does it take to become a bagel-holic? For most of us, it’s with the first bite.  

The term “bagels and…” leaves the possibilities limitless of what to put on one. Anything you can do with bread, you can do with a bagel. Bagels and lox, bagels and cream cheese, bagels and butter, bagels and peanut butter, bagels and tuna salad, bagels and egg salad, and even bagel pizzas – all satisfying and mouth-watering combinations.  

The bagel had its origin in Poland. Its name derives from the Yiddish word “beygel” meaning “ring” or “bracelet.” The U.S. bagel industry had its roots in New York City. When the Polish Jewish immigrants arrived to the United States, so did the bagel. New York bagels are often considered bagel nirvana and the standard which all other bagels should be measured. This is due mostly to the great water quality in New York that enhances baked goods’ taste and crust.  

There is something about the special texture of a bagel (chewy and crusty on the outside, dense yet tender and soft on the inside) that is unlike any other kind of bread. Everything tastes better on a bagel. Bagel stores popping up everywhere made the bagel an extremely popular breakfast food. Automated production and distribution of frozen bagels (thanks to Murray Lender) brought them directly into grocery stores across the country, and now everyone knows how delicious they are.  

Here is a recipe that brings New York style bagels into your home where you can make them yourself. And remember, you can freeze extras to keep on hand.

INGREDIENTS

2 tsp dry yeast

½ tsp sugar

1 ½ cups lukewarm water

4 cups unbleached bread flour

2 tsp + pinch of salt

1 heaping tbs + 2 tsp malt barley

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the yeast and sugar in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Add the lukewarm water and stir gently to mix. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 heaping tablespoons malt barley in a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment.
  3. Once the yeast-water mixture has started bubbling on top, add to mixer bowl and start mixing on low speed. When the dough begins to come together, 3 to 4 minutes, raise speed to medium-low.
  4. Keep mixing for another 5 to 7 minutes, until dough is elastic, shiny and dense. Remove from bowl and allow to rest 1 minute.
  5. Divide the dough into 8 to 10 small sections. Each section should measure 3 to 4 ounces (use a food scale for precision), depending on how large you want your bagels.
  6. Roll each section into a ball and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Cover for 10 to 15 minutes.
  1. Shape your bagels: Roll each piece of dough into a 3- to 4-inch rope, tapering ends just slightly.  
  2. One at a time, take the ends of the rope and overlap them just slightly, pinch and then roll with the palm of your hands. If your shape isn’t quite uniform, roll the other side of the bagel by placing your palm inside the middle and roll gently until desired shape.
  3. Place rolled bagels back on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge 12 to 18 hours.
  4. When ready to boil and bake, place a pizza stone on the top rack of your oven. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Allow pizza stone to sit in heated oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Bring a wide pot of water to a low boil over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons malt barley and a pinch of salt to the pot.
  6. Do not start boiling your bagels until your oven has completely preheated because once the bagels boil for 1 to 2 minutes, you want to get the bagels into the oven immediately. Also do not take the bagels out of the fridge too soon, or they may spread and lose their shape.
  7. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat just slightly so it’s a robust simmer. Add the puffed side of the bagel into the water first (flatter side should be up). After 30 to 60 seconds, flip the bagel using a spider kitchen tool, and let sit another 30 to 60 seconds.
  8. Using your spider once again, remove bagel from water, allow excess water to drip back into the pot, and place the bagel flatter side down into the oven directly onto the heated pizza stone. If you are going to add toppings, add them quickly as you put the bagel into the oven.
  9. After 10 minutes, flip the bagels onto the other side.
  10. Bake another 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how crispy you want the outside of your bagel. Allow to cool and serve.  

Recipe from Modern Jewish Baker by Shannon Sarna