Unless you’re in New York, it can be hard to find a good bagel. Soft, tasty and a little bit chewy, our homemade version is every bit as satisfying as what you find in the Big Apple — and you can feel even better knowing you made it yourself.
Bagels’ distinctive texture comes from a two-step process: first boiling, then baking. The result is extremely versatile, delicious with any number of toppings from cream cheese to sliced vegetables. For a fun brunch idea, set up a bagel bar. Include cream cheese and lox, plus any number of other add-ons such as avocado, bacon, capers, cucumber, ham, Gruyere cheese, honey, jam red onions and tomatoes. Let guests assemble their perfect breakfast, and enjoy!
2 1/2 cups (20 fl. oz./625 ml.) water
2 packages (5 tsp.) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) vegetable oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature
7 1/2 cups (37 1/2 oz./1.3 kg.) all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
1 1/2 Tbs. salt
1 large egg, beaten
Sesame seeds or poppy seeds for sprinkling (optional)
In a saucepan, combine the potatoes and water, bring to a boil, and cook until fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the water.
Measure 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml.) of the potato water in the 5-qt. (5-l.) bowl of a stand mixer and let cool to warm (110 degrees F/43 degrees C). Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and eggs and use a wire whisk to combine. Whisk in 2 cups (10 oz./315 g.) of the flour and the salt until smooth, about 2 minutes. Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook, and mix in the remaining flour, 1 cup (5 oz./155 g.) at a time, using just enough to form a soft dough. Knead the dough on low speed until smooth and elastic, 5-7 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl.
Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut it into quarters with a sharp knife or a bench scraper. Cut each quarter into 3 equal pieces and, using your palms, roll each piece into a rope 10 inches (25 cm.) long. Using the heel of your hand, flatten 1 inch (2.5 cm.) of one end of each rope. Form each bagel by overlapping the flat end of the rope over 1 inch (2.5 cm.) of the round end. Pinch together firmly. As the bagels are formed, set them aside on a lightly floured surface. Cover all the bagels loosely with a kitchen towel and let them rest until they are barely puffy when lifted, about 15 minutes.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a half-sheet pan or rimless baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly brush the parchment with oil, or spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
Fill a large, wide pot three-fourths full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil. Using a large slotted spoon, gently lower 3 bagels into the water. Do not crowd them, or they will lose their round shape. Simmer 1 minutes, then turn the bagels over and simmer 1 minute longer. Transfer the bagels to the prepared pan, spacing them 1 inch (2.5 cm.) apart. Repeat until all the bagels are boiled.
Brush the bagels with the beaten egg and sprinkle with seeds, if using. Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely. Makes 12 bagels.