Sunday, December 14, 2014

Everything Bagels

One of the best things about living in NYC is the luxuriously easy access to the best carb-form in the known world: the New York bagel. It's legends are many, it's followers are loyal--and all for good reason. There's nothing quite like waking up late on a Sunday morning, and making a bagel run in the crisp morning sun to your local shop, steaming cup of coffee in hand. A few givens: the lines will be long, your fellow bagel devotees will be half-asleep, some still in varying forms of sleepwear, and the caffeine-fueled guys behind the counter will yell loudly the entire time you're in there. You'll be rung up brusquely, thrown some change, which you'll throw right back into the tips jar, and out you'll go, clutching a precious brown paper bag full of doughy-on-the-inside-crunchy-on-the-outside bagels filled to the brim with luscious cream cheese (and you better not let me hear you ask for low-fat, or some other such nonsense). You'll get back home and maybe you'll have someone waiting there for you with whom to share your bounty over the weekend papers, but even if you don't, that's okay, because it's Sunday, and the whole day stretches lazily ahead with no end in sight, and you don't really need to get dressed or do your make-up today, and the floor can be covered with newspaper sections, and you've got one perfect bagel in hand.

My love affair with bagels has no bounds, if you can't already tell. Which is why I decided to venture into making my own, only to quickly discover that not only is it easier than it sounds, but that the whole Sunday morning bagel shop ritual I just waxed poetic about for far too long doesn't hold a candle to producing your own batch of beautiful, shiny bagels, to be eaten immediately, minutes out of the oven, covered in slathers of cream cheese sprinkled high with fresh chives you've just sliced yourself. It's a long-but-not-too-long, pleasing process that won't unduly stress you out, I promise. And the end result is more than worth it. Recipe below. xo

Everything Bagels
From Sunday Suppers, by Karen Mordechai
3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/3 cups warm water (about 105 F)
Vegetable oil, for the bowl
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon rock salt or coarse sea salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and kosher salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the warm water. Continue to mix until the dough comes together, 4 to 6 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth. Oil a large bowl, add the dough, and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Gently punch down the dough and let rest for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Press each piece to get rid of any air bubbles. Form them into smooth balls by rolling and rotating each one between your palms. Coat a finger with flour and press it through each ball to form a ring, stretching the dough and widening the hole to about one-third of the bagel’s diameter. Place the bagels on the prepared baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let rest for 10 minutes. (If the bagels begin to dry out, spray them with a bit of water.)

Bring the water back to a full boil and gently lower the bagels, 2 or 3 at a time, into the water. Boil uncovered for about 1 minute. Flip and boil for another minute. Remove the bagels, drain, and return to the baking sheet.

Whisk the egg yolk with the 1 teaspoon water to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, coat the tops of the bagels with the egg wash. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and rock salt. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes a dozen small bagels.