Recently at home kitchen Prince Charming and I have been enthusiastic about homemade bagels. We tried a recipe from Baking With Julia which was good, but it was the recipe posted in the New York Times that created the bagels we were dreaming about. Bagels are easy to make, plus half of the work may be done the night before. Also, consider this your opportunity to get younger ones excited about baking as rolling the soft dough to form the round wonders is great fun!
Adapted from Dan Graf
About 40 minutes plus 12 to 24 hours rising and refrigeration time
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
5 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for boiling
1 tablespoon diastatic malt powder or 1 1/2 tablespoons barley malt syrup
1/4 cup poppy seeds, optional
1/4 cup sesame seeds, optional
Put the yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add 1 2/3 cups lukewarm water and allow the yeast to activate, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt and malt powder and mix at low speed for 5 minutes using the paddle attachment. Cover the dough and allow to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Punch the dough down and shape into a rough rectangle about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick, and about 2 times longer than it is wide. If you are having trouble forming the dough, stretch it, wait for the gluten to relax and reform.
Cut the dough into 10 pieces of about 3 ounces each. Roll each into an 8-inch-long snakelike shape, tapering the dough at each end. Circle the dough around your hand, pinching the ends together and rolling under your palm once or twice to seal. Put the bagels on a Silpat or other nonstick baking sheet on top of a jellyroll pan. Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 10 hours, or up to 24 hours.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. If you have a baking stone or brick you use for baking, put it on a rack near the bottom of the oven; it will retain heat and produce a crisper bagel. Bring a large pot of water to boil, throw a handful of salt into the boiling water and remove the bagels from the refrigerator.
Using your hands, carefully place just enough bagels into the pot to cover the surface of the water, making sure that there are no bagels resting on top of one another. Let them float on one side for about 30 seconds before flipping them to the other side for another 30 seconds or so. Remove the bagels and drain well on a cooling rack.
Pour poppy or sesame seeds into a bowl wider than the bagels. Working very quickly, remove the bagels one by one and dip them into the topping. Place them back on the Silpat-covered baking sheet, topping side down.
Bake on the second to highest shelf of the oven for about 7 minutes. Then flip the bagels and continue baking for about 8 minutes, or until they are golden brown.