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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Quick and Easy New York Style Bagels


It's no secret that my kids love bagels. They inherited their carbohydrate-loving nature from their Mother and will gladly enjoy a lunch consisting of just bread and water and think it's the greatest thing in the world. They would probably enjoy prison food. One of their favorite "quick lunches" when we are in a rush is to go through the Panera drive-through and grab a bag of Asiago Cheese Bagels. The kids will just chow down on those bagels - no slicing, toasting, buttering necessary.

I'm also a huge lover of bagels, especially if they come with lox and cream cheese. Oh my word! One of the things I looked forward to the most when we planned our trip to New York City was grabbing an authentic New York Bagel with fresh lox from a Jewish deli. Thankfully, the experience totally lived up to my expectations and I have been craving another one like mad ever since!


I have made bagels many, many times before and the recipe I use is absolute perfection, albeit a bit complicated and time-consuming. The ingredients are precisely weighed and measured and then go through several risings, including an overnight rise after forming into the familiar bagel shape, before being boiled, topped, and baked. The result is a deliciously chewy, incredibly flavorful bagel that rivals the best bagels in NYC. And I say that only after trying the best bagels in NYC and my husband said he actually liked mine better. What a compliment. That recipe can be found here, deep in the archives of the blog when I only had one child, a cheap point-and-shoot camera, and a bit more time.


Nowadays, it really isn't always feasible to start a multi-day baking project because my days are filled with activity that often leaves me spinning. I wouldn't change our busy days for the world as I enjoy being on the move and having a slew of activity. But, I really want to be able to linger with my kids a bit longer at the library, at the park, or while out with friends and not be needing to keep a constant eye on my watch because I need to get home before my dough over-rises!

So, I decided to test a few bagel recipes that require less proofing and may be made start to finish in an afternoon while my youngest takes her nap. I tried a couple recipes and found one that made not only an acceptable bagel, but a very, very good bagel! In two hours flat, my kids were enjoying warm, freshly baked cheese bagels that were chewy with a well formed crust on the outside and a moist, soft interior. I also made a batch of plain, cinnamon sugar, and poppy seed bagels but of course the cheese ones were the hit.


This is a great first-time recipe if you have never made bagels at home before. They are so, so much better than anything you can buy in the store. They are not as heavy and taste completely different. Toasted, they are heavenly, but they are also great enjoyed just the way my kids prefer them - plain!

The only difficult part of this recipe is getting the dough to the right consistency. You add the water gradually because you want a dough that is moist but stiff. It is not going to be super soft and pillowy like a cinnamon roll dough, yet you want it to be completely hydrated or else you will have difficulty forming the bagels later in the process. If you have to much liquid in the dough, they might misshapen a bit during the boiling process. If you have ever made a good, homemade pizza dough, you want the dough to feel about as stiff as that, if not a little bit more stiff (if that makes any sense!). But do not fret! Whatever the results, the taste will be spot-on. The more you make bagels, the more familiar you will become with the consistency you want.

Now that I've completely freaked you out, here is the recipe. I promise you it is easy! Give them a try and I promise you will love the results. If you want a more complicated but even tastier recipe, check out my first post on bagels. That recipe still has my heart.


Quick and Easy New York Style Bagels
as seen on The Sophisticated Gourmet

Notes: You can use this base recipe and make a number of variations from it. After the boiling step, the bagels may be topped with anything you desire - dried onion, poppyseed, garlic, and salt for the "everything bagel" topping, cinnamon sugar, sesame seeds, swiss cheese and banana peppers, or jalapenos and cheddar. You can also add small, cubed pieces of cheese to the dough during the kneading step to make a more indulgent cheese bagel and then simply top the bagel with the cheese of your choice before baking. The rising times are all approximate and will vary depending on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen. For the final, quick rise after shaping, just make sure that your bagels appear "puffy" before you boil. This will ensure that they are ready for the final steps where they will hopefully bloom and rise even more in the water bath and the oven.

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 ½ tablespoons (4 ½ teaspoons) granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups / 300ml warm water (you may need up to 1/4 cup more - I definitely did)
3 ½ cups (500g) bread flour or high gluten flour (bread flour is important for this recipe!)
1 ½ teaspoons salt

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Without stirring, let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then gently whisk to dissolve in the water.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour and salt together. Add the yeast mixture and, using the dough hook attachment on the mixer, begin to knead together until a very scraggly dough appears. Pour in an additional 1/3 cup of warm water into the dough and continue to knead, adding additional water about a tablespoon at a time until the dough is moist, yet still firm. There should be no dry pockets of flour and the dough should be in a cohesive mass that feels moist but not at all sticky when squeezed with your hand.

Continue to the knead the dough in the mixer for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Remove from the mixing bowl, and knead it by hand on the countertop a few times. Form into a tight ball.

Lightly coat a large bowl with oil. Add the dough ball to the bowl and gently turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about one hour.

After one hour, gently punch the dough down and let it sit for about 10 minutes. While the dough rests, get a large stockpot of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat once boiling vigorously to a gently boil. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Carefully divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round. Now, take a dough ball, and press it gently against the countertop moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms. Repeat with 7 other dough rounds.

Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.

After shaping the dough rounds, cover them with a damp kitchen towel and allow them to rest for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to puff in shape. This might take a bit longer - so be patient and give it a little extra time if need be.

Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water - you may do multiple bagels at a time depending on the size of your pot. Let them boil on one side for 1 minute, and them flip them over to boil for another minute. Extend the boiling times to 2 minutes per side if you prefer a chewier bagel. Remove the boiled bagels from the water with a slotted spoon and place them back on the baking sheet. Top with any desired toppings. Repeat with all your bagels.

Once all the bagels have boiled and topped, bake them in the 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. They should sound hollow when lightly tapped with your finger.

Remove them from the baking sheet and allow to cool on a wire rack or eat them warm.

Enjoy!

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