New York style bagels

New York style bagels

I grew up eating bagels. Usually from a bag from the grocery store, sometimes from a little nothing-special corner shop. I always liked bagels, but never felt like I understood the religious-style hype. It wasn't until I went to NY for the first time that I truly understood their majesty. For everyone out there who believes that bagged grocery store bagels are akin to handmade New York bagels-- you are just wrong. Sorry, there's no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  Until you've had the hand-crafted gluten goodness that is a warm bagel, you simply have not lived. And while you may think that great bagels are unachievable in the home kitchen, I am here to prove you wrong. 

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Like most of my doughs and recipes, there is a lot of passive waiting time in between each part of the process. A long, slow ferment (24 hours) allows for maximum flavor development in the bagels and will help create a crisp, glossy skin. Start the bagels on a Saturday morning and enjoy with a hot cup of joe on Sunday morning smothered in cream cheese, or as a stacked breakfast sandwich (or both! I don't judge). No recipe is foolproof, but if you follow my tips below, you'll be eating warm bagels fresh out of the oven in no time!

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1. Flour. Using a flour with a high gluten content is absolutely essential. All purpose flour simply won't cut it and won't develop the appropriate amount of gluten for a nice, tight crumb. Find out which flour that's available to you has the highest protein content. I find that King Arthur flour has a good percentage and is generally readily available. 

2. Mixing your dough enough. Bagels require an extreme amount of mixing and thus I do not recommend doing this by hand unless you have kneading endurance like a beast. This will even be difficult work for your stand mixer, in the ballpark of at least 20-30 minutes. If you want to use a food processor, which will work the dough more quickly, that's possible. But you will have to do the initial rise with yeast, sugar, water and half of the flour. That mixture would then be added to the food processor with the remaining flour, diastatic malt powder, and salt and mixed until a smooth dough is achieved. I'm finicky and so I like to use my stand mixer, regardless of how this dough beats on the motor. 

3. Shaping your bagels. Now, there are plenty of experienced bakers who prefer the loop method. This is where each portion of dough is rolled into a rope and looped around your hand and rolled along the seam to seal the two sides of the dough together. I've attempted this method, and it works okay, but usually i end up with very ugly bagels--not smooth and glossy bagels. Therefore, I have found that the "hole poke" method is the easiest for the average person making bagels. Each portion of dough is rolled into a tight ball, allowed to rest (covered), and then you poke a hole through the center and use your fingers to enlarge it. The important part here is to make the hole large enough. It's going to look too large when you do it, but keep in mind that the bagels will swell when they boil and then when they bake. The Curious Chickpea has a great shaping tutorial here

4. Boiling your bagels. Boiling bagels is part of the secret to delicious NY bagels. A lot of folks use a mixture of water and barley malt syrup but I take it one step further and add a bit of beer to my water mixture for an added chew and malty flavor in the crust. It is extremely important that your water be lightly boiling so that it's hot enough to penetrate the dough. Adding your bagels to simply steaming water will result in small, dense, and tough bagels. 

5. Topping and baking your bagels. Some people like to bake them right on parchment paper on a baking sheet, however I usually like to throw them on a rack set over a baking sheet so that heat travels all around the bagel. After the bagels come out of the water, they will be at their maximum stickiness so that's the time to add your toppings. I opted for everything seasoning (everything bagels are scientifically proven to be the best bagels) and jalapeño cheese. I have all the ingredients for everything bagel spice, but honestly I just use the Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel spice because it's perfect and delicious. So, make your life easy and buy a little bottle for $2, rather than hunt down 5 different spices. Bake at 425 degrees F until golden brown and glossy. Usually I will rotate my baking sheet halfway through the baking process to allow the bagels to get evenly brown on all sides. 

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Follow these steps and you'll be cranking out bakery-worthy bagels whenever the fancy strikes! --xx Jenny

NY STYLE BAGELS:
makes 8-10 bagels

Starter:
375g tepid water, around 75 degrees
20g granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (3g)*
325g bread flour

Bagels:
325g bread flour
30g diastatic malt powder
20g kosher salt

Boiling water:
3 qts water (depending on the size of your pot, you will want roughly 3 inches of water)
3 tablespoons barley malt syrup
1 cup amber or brown beer (optional, don't use a hoppy beer)

desired toppings (I used everything bagel seasoning and some shredded cheddar and thinly sliced jalapeños)

*unless you are using a micro scale that measures partial grams, I am finding it is increasingly harder to get accurate measurements for yeast on a larger scale. Using a teaspoon for something like this is much safer. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer (if using, a regular mixing bowl if not), mix together the starter ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm location for 2 hours or until mixture is tripled in size and very bubbly. In a separate bowl, mix together remaining flour, malt powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to the starter and mix on medium for 20-30 minutes in your mixer fitted with the dough hook until a very smooth, non-sticky dough forms. If using a food processor, add the starter to the bowl of the processor and add remaining ingredients. Mix for 2 minutes until dough is smooth. I like big bagels so I portion mine around 120g each. After portioning dough, place them on a sheet tray and cover tightly with plastic wrap so that they don't try out. Let dough rest for 20 minutes. 

Cup a portion of dough beneath your palm and work in quick, circular motions to form a tight skin around the ball, with only a tiny seam along the bottom. If the seam is large or irregular, continue rounding until the bottom is nearly smooth. Cover with plastic again and let rest 15 minutes. Poke a hole into the center of each portion with a damp fingertip, then gently stretch into a 3 1/4-inch ring, wetting your hands in cold water as needed to prevent sticking. The hole in the middle, again, will look large but as the bagel rises and swells, it will look like a true bagel. Arrange on a well greased, parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic, and refrigerate 24 hours. 

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 425°F. Fill a stainless steel pot with about 3 inches of water, stir in malt and beer(if using), and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, set a rack over a baking sheet and prepare your toppings. Working two or three at a time, boil the bagels about 60 seconds per side. Transfer to baking rack and top with desired toppings. Bake until blistered and golden brown all over, about 20-25 minutes, rotating the baking rack once halfway through baking. Cool at least 15 minutes. To serve, split horizontally with a serrated knife. 

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