Some days ago I came across a recipe for a very very Jewish food I have been meaning to bake at home for a while: bagels! The recipe I found is quite special, not only for its authenticity, but also because how fun it is to read: it’s called “the Jewish Purist Bagels” and I challenge you to read through it without smiling a lot.
Anyway, I went ahead and tried my hand at the American recipe for philologically correct bagels, and I must say that I am very satisfied; perfect bagels, approved by all my friends who ate them in the office: mission accomplished!
This recipe makes approximately fifteen large bagels; these bagels are made without eggs, milk or any type of shortening or oil, which makes them pareve according to Kosher law.
Bagels, the True Jewish-American Recipe
- 6-8 cups bread high-gluten flour
- 4 tablespoons dry baking yeast
- 6 tablespoons granulated white sugar or light honey
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups hot water
- a bit of vegetable oil
- 1 gallon water
- 3-5 tablespoons malt syrup or sugar
- a few handfuls of cornmeal
- First, pour three cups of warm water into the mixing bowl. Add the sugar/honey and the yeast, and stir to dissolve. Wait about ten minutes for the yeast to begin to revive.
- At this point, add about three cups of flour as well as the 2 tsp of salt to the water and yeast and begin mixing it in.
- When you have incorporated the first three cups of Flour, the dough should begin to become thick-ish. Add more flour, a half-cup or so at a time, and mix each addition thoroughly before adding more flour. As the dough gets thicker, add less and less flour at a time. If you have a big enough and shallow enough bowl, use it as the kneading bowl, otherwise use A clean,
- dry, flat countertop or tabletop.
- Sprinkle your work surface or bowl with a handful of flour, put your dough on top,
- and start kneading. Add bits of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking (to your hands, to the bowl or countertop, etc....). Soon you should have a nice stiff dough.
- It will be quite elastic, but heavy and stiffer than a normal bread dough.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with one of your clean kitchen towels.
- Allow it to rise somewhere warm until doubled in volume.
- While the dough is rising, fill your stockpot with about a gallon of water and set it on the fire to boil. When it reaches a boil, add the malt syrup or sugar and reduce the heat so that the water
- just barely simmers; the surface of the water should hardly move.
- Once the dough has risen, turn it onto your work surface, punch it down, and divide immediately into as many hunks as you want to make bagels.
- For this recipe, you will probably end up with about 15 bagels, so you will divide the dough into 15 roughly even-sized hunks.
- Begin forming the bagels and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once the bagels are formed, let them sit for about 10 minutes. They will begin to rise slightly. Ideally, they will rise by about one-fourth volume. At the end of the proofing, drop the bagels into the simmering water one by one. The bagels should sink first, then gracefully float to the top of the simmering water. If they float, it's not a big deal, but it does mean that you'll have a somewhat more bready (and less bagely) texture.
- Let the bagel simmer for about three minutes, then turn them over with a skimmer or a slotted spoon.
- Simmer another three minutes, and then lift the bagels out of the water and set them on a clean kitchen towel that has been spread on the countertop for this purpose. The bagels should be pretty and shiny, thanks to the malt syrup or sugar in the boiling water.
- Once all the bagels have been boiled, prepare your baking sheets by sprinkling them with cornmeal, then arrange the bagels on the prepared baking sheets and put them in the oven.
- Let them bake for about 25 minutes, then remove from the oven, turn them over and put them back in the oven to finish baking for about ten minutes more. This will help to
- prevent flat-bottomed bagels.
- Remove the bagels from the oven and cool on wire racks, or on a dry clean towel if you have no racks. Do not attempt to cut them until they are cool, they will be a horrible mess.
- Serve the bagels with good cream cheese and any toppic of your liking!