This attempt at bagels (the third on this blog) turned out about as well as the first, and way better than the second. That's probably because this version has the driest dough yet, which is critical for getting good chewy bagels. The everything bagels (which I topped with salt, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds) turned out especially well.
I followed the "yeasted bagels" recipe from Crust & Crumb, which takes 24 hr start to finish. My only real modification to the recipe was to add a drizzle of honey to the poaching water—this is characteristic of "Montreal-style" bagels, which are popping up all over the west coast these days—but I'm not sure it made a difference.
make the sponge:
2 c bread flour
2 c cool water (65F)
1/3 t yeast
In the morning, stir together the sponge ingredients in a bowl that can hold double the volume. Cover and let sit on the counter all day. By evening (or at least 6 hr later) when you're ready to use it, it should be bubbly and have a loosely cohesive internal structure like a well-proofed starter (but without the sourdough smell).
make the dough:
2 c sponge
1 t yeast
1 c lukewarm water (85F)
4 t salt
3 T malt syrup
1.75-2 lb bread flour (at least 6 c)
optional add-ins (I used cinnamon raisin)
After dinner, measure out the sponge into a large bowl, and stir in everything else except the flour until smooth. Dump in a third of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to make a batter. Dump in another third and stir to form a stiff, shaggy ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a clean surface and knead for a long time, gradually incorporating the last third of the flour until your wrists are exhausted and the dough is smooth, firm, and dry. (At this point I cut the dough in half and kneaded 1 T cinnamon and a cup or two of raisins into one half.) Let the dough ball(s) rest on the counter, covered with a clean cloth, for about half an hour while you take a break and play some pinochle (or the recipe says you can move straight to shaping).
Cut the dough into 16 equal-sized pieces (e.g., 8 plain and 8 cinnamon raisin). Roll each piece into a 6" rope, join the ends with 2" overlap, and roll the overlapping ends together on the counter to seal. Place the shaped bagels on 2 semolina- or cornmeal-dusted baking sheets, cover with cloths, and let rest. After an hour or two, the bagels should just be beginning to rise, and a tester bagel should float in a bowl of cold water. Seal the pans inside spray-greased garbage bags and put in the fridge overnight.
cook the bagels:
big pot of water
optional toppings (I used kosher salt, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds)
Wake up early to pull the bagels out of the fridge, remove the bags, and cover the bagels with a cloth. Put the pizza stone in the middle of the oven and start preheating to 475F. This will take a while, so make some coffee and read some email. Then start boiling a few inches of water and a drizzle of honey in the pot. When the water boils, turn it down to just barely simmering (harder boil means flat wrinkly bagels). Working in batches (three bagels at a time works for my pot), poach the bagels in the water for 1.5 min on each side. Place the poached bagels on semolina-dusted parchment and sprinkle with any toppings. (Out of the 8 plain bagels, I left 4 plain and made 4 into everything bagels.) When the first 8 bagels are boiled and topped, slide the parchment of bagels onto the pizza stone and bake for 10-11 min while you boil the other 8 bagels; the second batch should be ready to bake right about when the first batch is done. Let the bagels cool on a rack for at least half an hour before slicing.