So of course, when I got my new bread book (get this book if you have any interest in bread baking), the bagel recipe was one of the first ones I wanted to try. As it turns out, it was the third recipe I tried, and probably the most successful so far. I was so excited to get up and bake them Sunday morning that I couldn't sleep. So consequently, I was boiling water and preheating my oven at 6 AM. I was in bagel heaven at approximately 7:30.
It began Saturday with a sponge starter that was allowed to ferment for about 3 hours, then mixed with the rest of the flour, yeast, salt, and barley malt syrup to make the dough.
windowpane test," then formed it into a ball so it would be easy to divide into bagel-size pieces.
I divided the dough into 16 roughly equal pieces, shaped them into balls, and allowed the balls to sit under a damp towel for 20 minutes.
I then had to shape the bagels. This was achieved by poking a hole in the middle of the dough ball with my thumb, then working the dough into a bagel shape. At this point the bagels had to sit in the fridge overnight in order for the enzymes to go to work breaking down those starches into sugars. The following morning, I brought a pot of water to a boil, added some baking soda, and boiled my bagels for one minute per side.
The boiled bagels were placed on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I sprinkled a few with sesame seeds and then it was into a 500 degree oven for about 12 minutes (Just in case you forget where you put the bagels, it can be useful to have a baby around to point them out).
When I took the bagels out of the oven, it was extremely hard to wait the suggested 15 minutes cooling time before eating. I managed to hold out and was rewarded with warm, chewy bagels, that were somewhat reminiscent of the old Lender's experience. Definitely as good or better than the best I've had since. The longer they sat around, the chewier they got, which was definitely a good thing. They were delicious plain, or with cream cheese, toasted or not toasted, with or without smoked salmon. The hardest thing about homemade bagels will be resisting the urge to make them every weekend!