Home Made Bagels !
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Making bread at home is scary.  It seems like the recipes are so fussy, calling for active yeast, rising time, kneading the dough just right – ugh!  It took me forever to make my bread recipes come out right, but this one came out right the first time.  It is the perfect recipe for breaking into the game of  make your own bread at home. Ingredients: 1 ½ teaspoons instant active dry yeast 1 ½ cups warm water at about 80 degrees F, which is just lukewarm to the touch 4 cups bread flour (not general all-purpose flour) 2 teaspoons non-iodized salt 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon barley malt – may substitute - see recipe for details Cornmeal for dusting the pan, about 3 tablespoons; the pan is used for rising the bagels.  Plain yellow cornmeal with no other added ingredients is the traditional way to go. Stand mixer with a bread hook Pizza stone for baking Parchment paper for baking Toppings: Sesame seeds Coarse grained or flaked kosher salt or sea salt Poppy seeds Dried onion flakes Dried garlic flakes Caraway seeds …and of course all of the above for an Everything Bagel. Barley malt is used mostly in brewing beer, distilling whiskey and making malted milk drinks, etc.  But it is mostly used as a sweetener with some extra flavor.  So you can try substituting honey or molasses or in a pinch just plain sugar.  Some recipes say that it helps with browning the bagels but I think it’s the pizza stone, which is called for later in this recipe, that does most of the browning.  I say all this because barley malt is hard to find in grocery stores, organic markets or specialty food shops.  Your local beer brewing supplies store may have it.  I had to get mine over the Internet. To start, stir in the yeast into the warm water in a small cup or bowl.  It may foam a little after a few minutes, or it may just turn the water a bit cloudy to let you know the live yeast is activated. Mix your dry ingredients first – the flour and salt.  Then add the barley malt or whatever sweetener you are using.  Here you will need that stand mixer with a bread hook.  You can combine everything and mix it manually if you have strong arms with endurance.  Run the mixer, or your arms, at the lowest possible speed for 4 minutes, until the dough comes together and sticks to the hook.  Then speed up the mixer to medium-low for 7-9 minutes until the dough becomes stiff, almost with that plastic-like consistency that other bread recipes call for.  Use 2 or 3 tablespoons of the cornmeal to dust a baking sheet that will be used to hold the bagels to rise overnight.  Use a separate work surface to divide the dough into 8 equal parts.  Roll each portion into a small ball, cover all with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before proceeding any further. Roll each ball into a cylinder about 11 inches long.  Take one of the cylinders and make the ends meet to form a bagel shape, overlapping the ends just slightly.  Take two fingers and insert them through the center of the bagel and finger-roll the overlap to form a good joint. You can wet your fingers and the ends of the dough with a little tap water to help make a smooth joint.  Prepare all 8 bagels in this way, then place them on the baking sheet dusted with the cornmeal and cover them tightly with plastic wrap.  Put them in your refrigerator overnight and see how they rise just a bit by the morning.  There is no substitute for a pizza stone for proper browning of the bagels.  My first batch was baked without the pizza stone and they tasted great, with the right consistency, but they were very pale.  I bought a pizza stone and the results were dramatically different, with very bagel-shop brown bagels.  The stone actually absorbs moisture during baking, which is necessary for good browning. Baking them that next morning is the fun part.  Preheat the oven along with the pizza stone on a middle rack to 450 degrees. As a first step, all true traditional bagels are boiled briefly before baking.  Boiling sets the crust and helps develop a separate chewy interior.  That’s because setting the crust traps the insides of the bagel, preventing a full rise and making the inside chewy since the flour mixture has nowhere to go when it tries to rise.  The longer the boil, the thicker the crust.  In some recipes, pretzels are boiled, too. Bring a large pot filled with 6 inches of water or so to a boil.  Ladle 3-4 bagels into the water at a time, fishing them out after only 30 seconds or so.  Place them on a wire rack to drain. This is the time to dip the wet bagels in your favorite toppings (above) or leave them plain. To bake without using a pizza stone, just bake them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. To bake with a pizza stone:  Place a few bagels, cornmeal side down, on a piece of parchment paper covering a separate baking tray.  Use a tray with no lip, or else invert the tray.  Now slide the bagels off the tray but along with the parchment paper onto the (very hot) pizza stone.    Either way, do not arrange the bagels close together or touching if you can.  That will hinder the browning process. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the bagels are browned.  Rotate the parchment paper 180 degrees halfway through the baking.  The bagels will not brown very much without the pizza stone, so bake them an extra minute or two to make sure they are done if you are not using the pizza stone. Remove the bagels and cool them on a wire rack.  Remember that these bagels will be much hotter than the ones you get from a bagel shop so let them cool several minutes before trying them.  And don’t touch that pizza stone - it may remain hot for hours!