I will try to be precise as I can, but I can’t tell you how much room temperature (90 degrees is optimal), humidity (approx 70%), how long you knead, how you shape, if while you are working - the dough becomes too dry, if you break the dough too much - all can contribute to a bread baking failure. So, just getting ingredients and instructions is not enough. You need to try and retry and retry and retry until you get the results you want. A true “original NYC Lower East Side Style Bagels” is a small chewy, slightly crispy on the outside, dark shade of brown.
First things first - with regards to the flour. Breads like bagels, challah, brioche, pitas, ciabatta - all of which use sugar (and some use butter too) - in our experience do not require a high quality flour - so anything you have on hand will do. We personally look for unbleached, but we use cheap flour (which we buy in bulk) for these breads. When you get into the more quality breads, like Vollkornbrot, which requires rye flour, or the bordelaise, baguette, sourdough - which don’t use sugar, butter, etc - the flour has more of an impact taste - because it is the main ingredient - so a high quality bread flour is essential.
Ice cold water 454.3g
Instant Yeast 5.5g (we use Saf-Instant)
Malt Syrup 18.2g
Brown Sugar 40.9g
*If you don’t have malt syrup you can just use 50g of brown sugar
In a mixer combine the flour, yeast and water. The mixing time depends on the mixer you have on hand - we use a professional floor mixer and it takes about 2 minutes. For a counter top kitchen aid, I would say about 5 minutes.
Then comes the autolysis - turn the mixer off - and let the dough sit for about 15-20 min.
Then comes the kneading - add the salt and restart the mixer. Knead for about 5 minutes (again, with experience you will know how much time - the dough should be smooth and have a soft look to it).
Then add the sugar (and malt if you are using it) and mix just until it is incorporated - about a minute.
Then add about a tablespoon of oil to a large glass bowl, put the dough in the bowl (don’t knead or handle it too much). Make a nice round ball out of the dough by mixing it with the oil
Cover it tightly with saran wrap.
Next comes the bulk fermentation - where the bread sits in a room with the temperature and humidity as close to optimal as possible. Do this for 1 hour (btw, if you plan on baking the bread the following am, this step is skipped).
Next is the cutting - put the dough on a counter - and cut into pieces that weigh exactly 120g each.
Cover them with a linen proofing cloth or dry towel.
Next is the pre shaping (folding) stage - take each piece and flatten it with the palm of your hand and then fold 1/3 toward the middle and the outer 1/3 over that - so the result is a small rectangle with 3 layers. Cover with a dry towel or a linen proofing cloth.
(make sure each piece is covered when it is cut, then when it is folded - so no piece is in the air while you are doing this - which can make the dough dry out - and result in a bread baking failure)
After all the pieces are pre-shaped, let them rest, covered for 1/2 hour.
Now comes the shaping phase - where you will shape each piece into the final bagel shape - this is also a very important step that with experience and trail and error, you will learn how to shape it so it will result in the final bagel shape you love.
After you shape all the pieces, you will do the Proofing. I have a special wooden sheet that I place all the bagels on - and I do the proofing in my oven that has a Proof setting. If your oven does not have one, put the bagels in the oven, close the door and turn on the light. That is the closest to the proof setting you can get in my experience. Let the bagels proof for 1/2 hour (btw, this step is also skipped if no bulk fermentation was conducted - i.e., you want to bake your bagels the next am).
Take the bagels out of the oven and put them in the fridge - cover so that the dough doesn’t dry out (most saran wrap isn’t large enough, so you can use a large plastic bag).
Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour - meanwhile boil water in a large pot and preheat oven to 470 degrees
Take out the bagels and place them in the boiling water for about 10-15 secs.
Drain each one well and place on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake for 15-25 minutes - depending on your oven.
Take them out and let them rest a bit - and then - DIG IN!
*Note: I posted in bold the key terms to any bread baking - to make it convenient for you to google the terms and look them up if you are interested in what each one means (weekendbakery dot com has a glossary for example - but many others do as well)
**Note: I take my bread baking very seriously - so apologies if the above is too detailed