Makes 16 bagels
The aroma of these bagels will have the family hovering around the stove. They are flavorful enough to eat plain, or they can be served with the Rosemary, Red Pepper, and Smoked Salmon Spread on page 37.
- 7 cups unbleached flour
- 3 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 cup fresh rosemary leaves, lightly chopped
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup unbleached flour, if needed
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the liquid. (On a humid day, use cool liquids; on an average day, use room-temperature liquids; on a dry day, use lukewarm liquids. When the air is dry, moisture is drawn from the dough, causing it to get cold very quickly, inhibiting rising.)
- Turn the bagel dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 5 to 7 minutes, 150 to 200 strokes, using additional flour as necessary to form a smooth, pliable dough. It should be slightly sticky.
- Cover the dough with a clean cloth and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 16 pieces, about 4 ounces each. Shape each piece into a ball and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes.
- Roll each piece of dough into a strand 8 to 9 inches long. Bring the ends of the strand toward you and form a circle by overlapping the ends. With one hand, lift the part of circle farthest from you and, with your other hand, roll through the center hole to seal the ends together. Place the formed bagels on a cornmeal-covered work surface, leaving 2 inches of space between each bagel.
- Allow the bagels to rest, uncovered, until a finger makes a light dent and, when picked up, the bagels do not stretch out of shape from their own weight. Depending on the temperature and humidity of the work area, this could take 40 to 60 minutes.
- Boiling: Meanwhile, prepare pans for boiling. A large turkey-roasting pan set over two stove burners will hold about eight bagels at a time. Two large, deep skillets or woks will do the same. Fill the pans with water to within 1/2 inch of the top and bring to a steady, gentle boil. Add water as necessary to maintain the highest level possible.
- When the bagels appear ready and the water is gently boiling, place a bagel top side down in the water. It should float on the surface of the water with about half of the bagel above water. Add more bagels, being careful to leave room for them to expand. Using a skimmer or slotted spoon, carefully turn the bagels top side up and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the bagels again, and cook for 4 minutes longer. Gently flip the bagels over and scoop them out of the water onto a rack to dry. Repeat with the remaining bagels. This part of the process ensures that the bagels are cooked and the yeast action of the dough is completed.
- When the bagels are cool enough to handle, set them top side up in a plate of cornmeal to coat the bottom evenly and then arrange them on a metal baking sheet. Set aside. When the bagels are cooled to room temperature, place them in the freezer.
- Allow them to harden enough so they snap from the trays, about 30 to 45 minutes. Place the bagels in plastic freezer bags or other airtight storage containers. You may freeze, refrigerate, or place the bagels in the pantry. Frozen bagels keep for 6 months; in the refrigerator, bagels keep for 5 to 7 days; in the pantry, 3 days.
- Baking: When ready to bake, place the bagels directly on the rack in an oven preheated to 375°F. Bake frozen bagels for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a rich golden brown. Bake the refrigerated bagels for 12 to 15 minutes and pantry bagels for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly before slicing.