One of our dogs loves to ‘counter-cruise’. When no one is looking, she puts her paws up on the kitchen counter and grabs whatever has been carelessly left too close to the edge. Once we opened a Krispy Kreme doughnut box and found it empty. Somehow she had lifted up the top and eaten the doughnuts without even knocking it off, and carefully closed the box when she was finished. Sneaky.
Our dog trainer had a few suggestions for ways to cure our dog of her bad behavior. The first was hot sauce on a cracker. She ate the cracker, hot sauce and all, and was sniffing for more with her runny nose. The second involved attaching something loud like a can with pennies in it to some food that would scare her when she pulled it off the counter. I tied the can to a store-bought bagel that was going stale at the time. The result? She was startled, but kept her jaws firmly attached to the bagel as she ran away.
Our solution became making sure to set food as far back on the counter as possible, and disciplining whenever she gets caught. No more wasting bagels, especially these homemade ones that are so much better than anything from the store.
I came across a recipe at The Way the Cookie Crumbles, where Bridget combines bagel recipes from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and Cooks Illustrated to make hers, and after seeing the photos I felt a compelling need to make them. They were a huge success, and the taste is everything you could want in a bagel. I have made the original recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice since, just to compare, and found that those didn’t rise as much or have quite as nice of a crust as these. They can be made with really any type of flour you choose, but the higher the gluten, the more chew your bagels will have.
If you love bagels and want to make them at home, give this recipe a try. But if you have a dog, be sure not to leave them too close to the edge of the counter.
makes 12 small or 8 large bagels
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1¾ cup (9 ounces) bread flour or high-gluten flour
- 1¼ cup (10 ounces) water, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 3/4 cup (8 ounces) bread flour or high-gluten flour (approximately)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- To make sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water, stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the counter top.
- To make the dough, add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add most of the remaining flour and all of the salt and malt. Mix on low speed with the dough hook until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining flour to stiffen the dough.
- Knead at low speed for 6 minutes. The dough should be firm and stiff, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated. If the dough seems too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. 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 8-12 equal pieces. Form the pieces into smooth balls.
- Cover the balls with plastic wrap and allow them to rest for 20 minutes. Dust a baking sheet with the cornmeal.
- Form each dough ball into a rope 9 inches long by rolling it under your outstretched palms. Do not taper the ends of the rope. Overlap the ends of the rope about 1 inch and pinch the entire overlapped area firmly together. If the ends of the rope do not want to stick together, you can dampen them slightly. Place the loop of dough around the base of your fingers and, with the overlap under your palm, roll the rope several times, applying firm pressure to seal the seam. The bagel should be roughly the same thickness all the way around.
- Place each of the shaped pieces about an inch apart on the prepared pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pan 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.
- The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), adjust the rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better). Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). Stir and submerge bagels with Chinese skimmer or slotted spoon until very slightly puffed, 30 to 35 seconds. Remove rings from water; transfer to wire rack, bottom side down, to drain (at this time you can sprinkle on toppings of your choice).
- Transfer boiled rings, rough side down, to parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until deep golden brown and crisp, about 12 minutes.
- Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes before serving.