Perfect bagels at home

This week on the Daily Campus' menu are homemade bagels—an alternative to the few bagel joints around UConn's campus and what the author describes as pricey, bagel posers. (Charlie Smart/The Daily Campus)

This week on the Daily Campus' menu are homemade bagels—an alternative to the few bagel joints around UConn's campus and what the author describes as pricey, bagel posers. (Charlie Smart/The Daily Campus)

Storrs, like most places that aren’t New York and New Jersey, has an unfortunate scarcity of good bagels. Sure, there are a few decent bagel joints around UConn, but they’re pricey, and the bagels you can buy at the grocery store are usually just round bread with a hole in the center—not the crispy, soft treats they’re posing as.

I decided that rather than dealing with sub-par bagels, I would learn how to make them myself. Every weekend for the past month or so, I’ve whipped together a few batches of bagels, altering the recipe a bit each time until I finally arrived at something I like.

As far as baking goes, this recipe isn’t very hard. You can finish it in a few hours and it only takes five ingredients. You can buy barley malt syrup on Amazon and high-protein bread flour at almost all grocery stores.

The measurements here are given in both grams and cups. Mass measurements are usually better, so it’s worth it to get your hands on a kitchen scale. Measuring cups will work in a pinch, though.

Ingredients:

  • 500g (about 4 cups) bread flour
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 280g (about 1 ½ cups) warm water
  • 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 60g (about 3 tbsp. barley) malt syrup

Optional Toppings:

  • 1 tsp. dried garlic flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried onion flakes
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp. poppy seeds
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp. water
Charlie Smart/The Daily Campus

Charlie Smart/The Daily Campus

Instructions:  

Combine 40g (2 tbsp.) of the barley malt syrup with the warm water and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the syrup-water mixture and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour and salt. After 10 minutes have elapsed, stir the yeast into the syrup-water mixture.

Next, combine the wet and dry ingredients. There are a few ways to do this—the simplest is to mix everything with your hands and then knead for 10 to 15 minutes until the dough is solid. This requires the fewest tools but will lead to slightly lumpier dough. My preferred method is to use a food processor: Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry while pulsing the blade until the dough forms a solid ball. Be sure not to over-mix.

Once all the ingredients are combined, you should have a firm, slightly tough ball of dough. Grease the inside of a bowl and leave the dough in it, covered, for one hour to rise.

Line a baking sheet with greased parchment paper. Once the dough has risen, dump it onto a clean surface, punch down to remove all the air bubbles and split into six to eight equally-sized pieces. Roll each piece until it forms a smooth ball, then poke a hole through the center with your thumb and works your thumbs around the dough, expanding the hole until it’s shaped like a bagel. Make the hole a bit bigger than you think you’ll need—the dough will contract. Place the shaped bagels onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a wet cloth. Let rise for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Fill a large pot halfway with water and the remaining barley malt syrup and bring to a boil over high heat. If you’re going to put toppings on your bagels, whisk together the egg yolk and water. In a separate bowl, combine the toppings.

When the bagels have finished rising, place them a few at a time into the boiling water. Boil for one minute before flipping over and boiling for another minute on the other side. Place the bagels back on the baking sheet, brush with the egg yolk and sprinkle with toppings.

Once all bagels are boiled and topped, bake for 25-30 minutes.


Charlie Smart is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at charles.smart@uconn.edu.