I have been searching for the perfect bagel recipe for quite a while now. I love going to our local bakery and ordering bagels there, but at nearly five dollars w/cream cheese its a much better decision to make them at home! I found this recipe in such an unexpected way. I was making Pain de Mie one afternoon and had a little extra dough leftover. I decided to shape it into a few bagels and cook them up. To my delight they were chewy and crisp, all the things you want in a bagel, perfect! The recipe for these is really very simple but it does require that you have sourdough starter on hand, sorry to be exclusive. You can buy a starter and have it flourishing within a week from this website. I highly recommend this if you enjoy sourdough. I use the Parisian starter and have enjoyed it so far. I took the basic recipe for Sourdough Bread from the Cultures for Health website and made bagels out of it. Not that inventive, but its pretty delicious. The main thing that gives these bagels the desired texture is the kneading, as with most breads. I spent a total of 30 minute kneading the dough and to be honest, it probably could have gone longer. If you haven't worked with sourdough before I highly recommend watching the (lengthy) video provided on the Cultures for Health website.
2-1/3 cups fresh sourdough starter
3-1/3 cups flour
1 to 1-1/2 cps water
Scant tablespoon salt
Add the starter, flour and salt to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until combine. Slowly add water, I like to do it 1/2 cup at a time to the mixture until it reaches the consistency of bread dough. Remove dough from mixer onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, knead, knead! You can take short breaks, but knead the dough for at least 20 minutes or until it passes the "window pane test". Basically take a small piece of dough and stretch it gently between your fingers, if it breaks then you must keep kneading. You want to be able to stretch it thin enough to see light though the dough without it ripping! Not the most fun job, but totally worth it in the end!
After the dough has been adequately kneaded divide into 12 equal sized round balls. Punch a hole in the center of the dough and gently stretch until you have a decent sized hole in the center and the approximate desired bagel size, the hole will pretty much close during the proofing. Place the shaped dough onto a pan. Once all your bagels are shaped cover well with plastic wrap and let them proof overnight.
Once your bagels have proofed the process is really simple. Pre-heat oven to 475. Take a large pot of water and bring it to boil. Add 1 Tablespoon honey, 1 Tablespoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt to the water and stir. When you have a rolling boil add the bagels 2-3 at a time (don't crowd them) boil 2 minutes per side. Use a slotted spoon to flip/remove. Place boiled bagels onto a sheet pan. Once all the bagels are boiled its time to add the toppings or you can leave them all plain. I did three different toppings for these bagels: Sesame, Pretzel Salt, and Pizza. For the Pizza bagels simply spread tomato paste on the top of the bagel and sprinkle with hot pepper flakes!
If you are thinking to yourself that this process is ridiculous and long, I don't blame you. Anytime you are making bread (especially sourdough) the process is quite long, but the steps are simple. The reward for all your hard work is delicious bakery quality bagels that are much more economical than going to the bakery! I hope you will try these out and see for yourself.