Make Your Own Bagels

Try your hand at this brunch staple developed by a former New Yorker
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Photo by Susan Laughlin

Sprinkle with sesame and poppy seeds or an “everything” mixture for a bagel-shop-like display. Before you get started, note that the dough needs to rest overnight (about 18 hours total) to get the traditional chewy texture.

Considering the difficulty in locating a good bagel anywhere anymore, making your own isn’t such a big deal. The dough-making is separate from the baking, which literally takes 40 minutes from the second you start. It’s true you need fair amount of refrigeration to hold the bagels overnight, but you can cheat on a cool evening by storing them outside in a safe spot.
—Barbara Michelson

Yields 10 plain and 10 “everything” bagels

7 1/2 cups bread flour, divided
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fast-acting yeast, divided*
1 scant tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of honey
Vegetable oil for sheet pans
1 tablespoon baking soda (for boiling water)

Everything bagel ingredients

2 tablespoons dried onion
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoons dried garlic
1 tablespoon salt

In a large bowl, combine 3 3/4 cups bread flour, whole-wheat flour, 1 teaspoon yeast and 2 ½ cups room-temperature water. Let stand at room temperature until mixture looks light and bubbly, about 2 hours.

In a standing mixer, with the paddle or by hand, beat 3 cups bread flour, remaining ½ teaspoon yeast, salt and honey into the first mixture.

Knead the dough in the mixer using the dough hook or by hand, adding the remaining ¾ cup bread flour as needed to stiffen the dough. Continue to knead until dough is satiny, about 6 minutes by machine or 10 minutes by hand.

Divide dough into 3-ounce pieces and shape into rounds. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 20 minutes.

Brush several baking sheets with a light coating of vegetable oil. Shape rounds into bagels by forming a hole with your thumb and rotating the dough around it until dough forms an even ring. Set bagels as you form them on oiled sheets.

Cover baking sheets with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 20 minutes, then refrigerate overnight.

At baking time, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, or as high as it goes.

Bring a large, 6-inch or so, deep pot to boil over high heat and add baking soda. Lower heat slightly.

Mix “everything” topping for bagels by combining dried onion, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic and salt in a large dish.

In batches, leaving ample room for expansion, boil bagels for 2 minutes on each side, then remove to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Set first 10 bagels on a baking sheet that has been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Bagels won’t expand further, so there is no need to allow much space between them.

Dip remaining bagels, when just drained, into topping mixture (you can just use poppy or sesame seeds, if you prefer), coating both sides, then set on baking sheets. There is no need to sprinkle cornmeal on sheets, although there is no harm in it.

Bake bagels for about 10 minutes, rotating baking sheet, midway through baking.

Take baking sheets from oven, flop bagels and bake an additional 2 minutes.

Cool bagels on a wire rack.

*Here’s the rare instance I like fast-acting yeast for the extra pop it gives the bagels when they hit the boiling water.

About the Cookbook Author

Barbara Michelson of Nelson began her culinary journey at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, rolled on to a catering trailer on Long Island, and most recently became aide de camp at Mayfair Farm in Harrisville. The farm and catering kitchen are run by her daughter, Sarah Heffron, who relocated to Harrisville after her mother discovered picturesque village life in southern New Hampshire. Michelson’s latest cookbook, “Presque Très Bien: And Getting Better All the Time,” is a collection of recipes that touch on her favorite cuisines (Chinese and Indian), Mayfair Farm treasures, and ideas gleaned from family and friends, both old and new. This volume is really a food lover’s memoir with heartwarming headnotes, while the title is a reference to the grade she received on her Le Cordon Bleu diploma — “almost very good.” Even Amy Klobuchar would be happy to bring a few of these recipes as “hot dishes” to a local gathering, and you will be too.

Presque Très Bien: And Getting Better All the Time”
Barbara Michelson / Hardcover, 356 pages
Mayfair Press, $36 /

Categories: Recipes