This past long weekend my friends E., J., and A. and I decided to check out the new Picasso exhibit at the AGO here in Toronto. Whenever E. and I hang out together we usually make it heavily food-centric, and this time we decided to start the day with a fancy brunch at her new apartment, like the classy ladies we hope to someday be. E. provided a variety of awesome soft cheeses and some fresh fruit, and A. and I were to bring the bubbly for mimosas and some bagels. I was too lazy to go out and buy real Jewish bakery bagels, so I decided to whip up my own batch. E. would have to deal with Secular Humanist bagels this time.

Making bagels is just as easy as hopping on the subway and buying your own, and is probably cheaper, pound for pound. Plus you can customize with all the delicious (or weird but delicious?) combinations your heart desires that you can’t pick up in a store. Bake a giant batch, slice them, and freeze them for later use. You’ll always have them at your fingertips and won’t have to deal with the flavourless and unappealing bagels at your nearest Tim Horton’s/Starbucks/Second Cup.

I used the recipe from Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network site. I found that parts of the recipe aren’t exactly clear, like the usage of a whole sheet pan sprinkled with cornmeal that isn’t heard from again, or why you’d flip over bagels that have toppings on them.

So, for the dense plebians of the baking world like myself, I’ve altered the directions to reflect how I did things, which resulted in perfectly cooked bagels anyway.

Bagels!

  • 2 cups warm tap water
  • 2 (0.250z) packets active dry yeast (I use Fleischmann’s)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 – 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing your sheet pans
  • Your favourite toppings

Dough

  1. In a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment (or in a large bowl, if you mix dough by hand), lightly stir together the sugar, warm water and yeast and leave to set 5 minutes, or until foamy.
  2. Gradually sprinkle in 4 cups of the flour, cup by cup, while mixing slowly, until the mass comes together.
  3. Turn out onto a heavily floured surface, and knead by hand (adding extra flour if necessary) until the dough is no longer sticky, or shiny.
  4. Pour 1 teaspoon of the oil into a large bowl and toss the dough around in it to grease it. Let it rise for an hour in a draft-free place (ideally, your oven with a bowl of boiled and super-hot water on the bottom rack). It should have doubled in size.
  5. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces, and roll out each piece into a sausage.
  6. Join together the ends, and let rise a second time for about 20-30 minutes, or in the fridge overnight if you want them fresh in the morning.

Baking

Preheat oven to 400F.

  1. Boil a medium to large pot of water with 1 tablespoon of sugar in it.
  2. Boil each bagel for 30 seconds on each side.
  3. Fish out each bagel with a slotted spoon or spatula and place onto a baking dish greased with vegetable oil, or lined with parchment paper.
  4. While the bagel is still wet, apply your toppings.
  5. Repeat for as many bagels as will fit on your baking sheet and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Toppings

Aw yeah, you’ve proofed your bagel dough twice and boiled them. Now it’s time to top them with all your favourite things. What do you like best? Some ideas include:

  • poppyseeds
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • toasted dried onion and garlic
  • roasted salted sunflower seeds
  • sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fine
  • coarse sea salt
  • herbes de provence
  • basil
  • cheese (cheddar, parmesan, asiago, feta!)
  • minced olives

And what are you gonna serve with those delicious and fresh bagels? Butter and jam? Artisan cheeses? Cream cheese and smoked salmon (a personal fave)? Or maybe make yourself a breakfast bagel-wich! Or bagel benedicts! Start your mornings off right.

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