I have to say when I read that loveandoliveoil’s monthly challenge was to make bagels, I was pretty stoked. In many ways, making bagels was one of my main inspirations for becoming more adventurous in the kitchen. When I was living in London, my boyfriend (who was living in Vancouver at the time) decided to make bagels with a friend of his and he later told me how much fun it was and what a success they were. I had never thought it was even possible to make bagels at home. Coming from Montreal, I was (and still am) pretty snobby about my bagels (because Montreal bagels are awesome, not because people from Montreal are snobs!) and I thought it would be a great thing to do and share with my new-found friends in London.
I have to say, after making bagels that first time, I haven’t looked back. I found it surprisingly easy to get a product that tasted heaps better than the stuff you buy in British supermarkets (I guess the bar isn’t too high) and with a little bit of practice you can really approach the glory that is an authentic Montreal bagel: slightly sweet, chewy, and covered generously with poppy or sesame seeds. I have enjoyed making bagels so much over the past two years that there have been countless moments when I have considered dropping my current career path to become a bagel maker (I still haven’t completely given up on this idea).
And so, I am sure there will be a lot of bagel experimentation in my future, but as it stands, this recipe is pretty awesome. While it does take a decent amount of time, and is more involved in terms of active work than bread, it is really worth it. The trick is to make a huge batch and then freeze them. I can attest that they freeze beautifully and are a great snack (or meal) to have on hand. I have made chocolate chip, sesame, poppy seed, and cinnamon raisin variations from this recipe and they’ve always turned out great. It’s also a lot of fun to have a ‘bagel party’ and make them with a bunch of people.
Adapted from bigoven.com
I think these are perfect served with cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomatoes, onion and capers.
Make sure to freeze them once they cool down to preserve the 'fresh-out-of-the-oven' texture.
In a large bowl whisk together the warm water, sugar, canola oil, yeast, egg and syrup. Combine until the yeast dissolves.
Stir in salt and one cup of the flour.
Add enough flour to make a shaggy, soft dough, about 3 cups.
Knead your dough for about 12 minutes, adding flour as needed as you go (I added an additional 1/2 cup, giving a total of 4 1/2 cups of flour). If you are making chocolate bagels (or raisin etc), knead in the chocolate chunks in the last minute of your kneading.
Once your dough is firm and smooth, cover with inverted bowl and let the dough rest 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 12 equal parts (for large bagels). Roll each piece into a 8-10 inch rope, then curve each one pressing together the ends to make a bagel shape. Make sure that the ends are firmly stuck together or they will come apart when you boil them. Note that your bagels will look pretty deformed at this point (the holes will be very big etc), but just remember that the dough really puffs up after they are boiled.
Let the shaped dough rise for 30 minutes
About five minutes before your dough is finished rising, fill a large pot with water (16 cups of water) and stir in the honey. Bring that to a boil.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Boil your bagels by placing them in the pot (3-4 at a time, you don't want them to be on top of one another), and boil for 45 seconds on each side (90 seconds total). Remove and let the water drain off onto a clean towel or paper towel.
In a small bowl whisk your egg and pour your seeds on a small plate.
Dip your bagel in the egg wash and then coat both sides in the seeds. Note, the bagels tend to get very dark in areas where they are not covered with seeds. If you are making chocolate chip or raisin bagels, I suggest that you still cover them with seeds. If you are not covering them with seeds, keep an eye on them in the oven to make sure that they don't burn.
Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes (they should be starting to get golden brown on the side touching the baking tray), then flip and bake another 6-8 minutes (until completely light, golden brown). This is really going to depend on your oven temperature. Usually the second side (and the second batch) bakes a lot faster than the first so keep an eye on it!
Cool the bagels on a cooling rack. Once completely cool, store in a freezer bag for a few days. Even better, freeze the majority of the bagels immediately after they are done cooling to preserve their texture.