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Recipe: New York City Bagels

Recipe by J.D. Stark Photographs by Chantelle Grady

Bagel baking isn’t easy, but here’s a recipe for classic New York Bagels you can make at home, along with a recipe for Pale Ale Cream Cheese and some other crunchy toppings.

We’ve done some bagel-baking homework, and we’ve discovered that it’s time-consuming and complicated! We asked baker J.D. Stark to come up with a bagel recipe for us and he has a few cool ideas for ways to top them up. If you can carve out the time, serving up some freshly baked bagels to your friends is definitely a delicious reward.

“I came to develop this bagel recipe after spending my time incredibly frustrated with the lack of great bagels in the Bay Area,” says J.D. “Bagels are the first thing I miss when I think of New York. The secret is in their water! I’m certain the recipe will quench your nostalgia until you can make your next trip.”

“I’ve found that bagels are a great and easy way to get people comfortable working with dough, as they’re much more resilient than a typical naturally leavened bread,” he says. “They’re chewy, sweet and supple—similar to the artisan bagels I’ve done in the wood oven. I wanted to achieve a more rustic bagel while making it accessible to the home baker—the end result is a beautiful compromise. I enjoy bagels with minced shallots, and tomato; you should take the liberty to dress them as you please. Slice with a serrated knife to eat warm, or toast if you prefer.” (We also recommend this bagel recipe by Deb Perelman of the wonderful Smitten Kitchenwho adapted a recipe from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread.)

Recipe: New York City Bagels

This is the classic style that made bagels famous. It’s always better to let them rest in the refrigerator to develop overnight. This retardation process lends to a more complex, digestible and lovely bagel.

Ingredients
2 teaspoons (0.2 ounces/6 grams) instant yeast
2 1/4 cups (17 ounces/510 milliliters) lukewarm water
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon (1.3 ounces/40 grams) granulated sugar
3 teaspoons (0.74 ounces / 10.5 grams) salt, or 5 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 large egg
4 1/2 teaspoons (0.7 ounces/20 grams) malt powder flour (do not substitute with malt syrup)
2 1/2 teaspoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons (1.4 ounces/42 grams) honey
2 1/4 pounds/1 kilogram (about 8 cups)
 bread flour

For the poaching liquid
2 to 3 quarts (1 to 3 liters) water
, as needed
1/4 cup (2.8 ounces/80 grams) malt barley syrup (or honey)
1 tablespoon (0.5 ounces / 14 grams) baking soda
1 teaspoon (0.25 ounces / 6 grams) salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

Toppings (your choice)
Poppy seeds
Sesame seeds
Fleur de sel
Nutritional yeast

Method
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, whisk the yeast into the warm water and let stand 2 to 3 minutes or until dissolved.

Whisk in the sugar, salt, egg, malt powder flour, oil and honey, then gradually add 7 cups of the flour. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour as needed. Mix with stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (if using the stand mixer) or with a sturdy wooden spoon until cohesive. The dough should not be sticky, but still soft and pliable.

Keep a bowl of warm water near to wet your hands slightly. Knead dough on a clean, dry work surface for 10 minutes by folding and punching the dough into itself. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean dishtowel and allow to rest in a draft-free area for 45 minutes (this period is known as bulk fermentation).

Take the dough mass and use bench scraper to cut it into 13 equal-size portions (note: weigh the dough mass, divide by 13 and voilà!). Shoot for  4-ounce/115-gram pieces.

Roll the dough pieces into small balls by using traditional bread round shaping technique (roll under palm on a work surface, pull the dough toward yourself and tuck the seam with your pinky finger. You can rotate the dough to make sure all the sides are equally tight). To complete shaping, fold the loose ends of the dough in on itself. Once finished with this step, lay seam side down on the work surface. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes have passed, poke a hole through the center of the ball to create a donut shape. Holding the dough with both thumbs in the hole, rotate the dough with your hands, gradually stretching it to create a hole about 2 inches/5 centimeters in diameter. Arrange finished bagels on parchment paper–lined baking sheets and cover with a clean dishtowel as you work on the rest.

Lightly oil (or coat with cooking spray), cover with plastic wrap and set in refrigerator overnight (or up to 2 days).

NEXT DAY

Pull bagels out to rest in room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes. Preheat the oven to 460°F/237°C.

Place one of the bagels in a small bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn’t float back to the surface, shake it off, return it to the pan and wait for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they’re all ready to be boiled.

Fill a Dutch oven about 2/3 full with water, and pour in the malt barley, baking soda and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer.

Lay out 3 layers of paper towels on a work surface for draining the bagels.

Add bagels to simmering water a few at a time, and boil for 2 minutes total, flipping halfway through to ensure even boiling. They will float to the top when finished. Transfer to the paper towels with a slotted spoon or a spider skimmer. Repeat process with remaining bagel dough.

When finished (while bagels are still damp), take your preferred topping and place it in a medium bowl. Dip the bagels until the top is coated thoroughly. Set aside on parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Once all bagels are completed, bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. If the bagels seem to be getting too dark, lower the temperature accordingly (10 to15 degrees). Cool bagels on racks for 30 minutes, and enjoy!

For the Cream Cheese

Whisk the pale ale into the cream cheese to taste, and feel free to add salt to taste as well.

Makes 13 bagels

As a vagabond chef and baker, J.D. Stark has journeyed throughout America in search of a perfect, supple loaf. He’s made the rounds both as a bread maker under the countries’ finest and as a cook in Michelin-starred kitchens. An entrepreneur, creative director and personal chef, he lives in San Francisco.

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