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Bagel Wednesday at work — when our office provides (you guessed it) bagels for all employees on Wednesday mornings — is a highlight of my week. Also, a couple of weeks ago at the beach, Kevin and I hit up The Bagel Factory twice for breakfast (once on a Wednesday) and they were quite delicious.

And so, when I decided to try making bagels at home for my next culinary adventure, Wednesday seemed to be the perfect day to do so.

Alas, the baking adventure was slightly delayed.

When I began shopping for groceries to make the bagels last week, I ran into one roadblock: malt powder. Kevin and I visited both Harris Teeter and Whole Foods here in Winston-Salem and had no luck. I spent some time on Google, and it didn’t look like any retailers here carry malt powder. This only made me more determined to hunt it down!

I turned to trusty ole Amazon.com and found this pound of diastatic malt powder which looked like it would do the trick based on reviews people wrote. Since the recipe I’m using calls for a mere two teaspoons of the stuff, I’ll be able to make batch after batch of (fingers crossed) delicious bagels before I need to restock. (Let me know if you need to borrow any malt powder for the next, oh, five years or so.)

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients for Sponge

  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast or rapid rise yeast (be sure to get the right kind — I had to make an emergency run to the grocery store when I realized I’d bought active dry instead)
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups water

Ingredients for Dough

  • 1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid rise yeast
  • 3 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 2 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons malt powder

Ingredients for Finishing Touches

  • Baking soda (for boiling water)
  • Cornmeal (for dusting the pan)
  • Cinnamon sugar (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
  • Poppy seeds (optional)

Bagel making is a two-day endeavor, so I started things off on Sunday evening with the first steps of the recipe.

Day One Directions

  • Stir the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and stir until all ingredients are blended. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for two hours.

  • Remove the plastic wrap and stir the additional yeast into the sponge. Add salt, malt powder, and 3 cups of flour into the bowl and mix until all of the ingredients form a ball. (The dough will be rather dry — you might need to use your hands to mix everything together.)
  • Pour the dough onto a clean surface and knead for 10 minutes. Work in the additional 3/4 cups of flour while kneading.
  • Immediately after kneading, split the dough into 12 small pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and set it aside.

  • When you have all 12 pieces made, cover them with a damp towel and let them rest for 20 minutes.
  • To shape the bagel, punch your thumb through the center of each piece of dough and then rotate the dough around your thumb.
  • Place the shaped bagels on an oiled baking sheet, with an inch or so of space between one another (I used two smaller pans, which worked nicely for refrigerator space).

  • Cover the pan with plastic and allow the dough to rise for about 20 minutes, then refrigerate overnight. (You can also make this dough in advance and freeze it, rather than refrigerating it. Then just pull out the dough whenever you’re ready and continue with the baking day steps, as outlined below.)

Day Two Directions (Baking Day!):

  • Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. While the oven is preheating, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add tablespoon of baking soda to the water (apparently this is to alkalize the water, replicating a traditional bagel flavor).
  • When the pot is boiling, drop a few of the bagels into the pot and let them boil for a minute or so (I boiled three bagels at once, which was manageable).

  • After about a minute, gently flip them over and boil them on the other side. (Note: You don’t need to wait for the dough to reach room temperature before boiling. In fact, according to some research I did, if you boil them while they’re still cool the bagels will be chewier, which is exactly what I was going for.)
  • Dust the baking sheet with cornmeal. Remove the bagels from the boiling water one at a time, set them back onto the sheet pan, and top them immediately. I used sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and cinnamon sugar as toppings. (The cinnamon sugar one I ate this morning was quite similar to a Panera Cinnamon Crunch bagel. Yum!)
  • Repeat this process until all of the bagels have been boiled and topped.

  • Place the sheet pan into the preheated oven and bake for five minutes. Reduce the heat to 450 degrees, rotate the pan, and bake for another five minutes until the bagels begin to brown. (I baked some bagels for the directed 10 minutes, but others I baked much longer as they took more time to brown. Just keep an eye on the bagels and time the baking accordingly.)
  • Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly. Top with cream cheese (or whatever your preferred bagel dressing might be) and enjoy!

Happy Bagel Monday*!

(*In the end, it worked out better that my bagel making was timed this way. After all, I already have bagels to look forward to on Wednesday!)

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