Day Two of The Two-Day Bagel Experiment

Although the bagel making I suggest you try spans two days, the process, from start to finish, occupies less of your hands-on time than you might think. On day one, I spent a few minutes on prep work, a few minutes mixing and kneading, and a few more minutes shaping before the dough circles went into the fridge to do a slow, 24-hour rise.

On day two, I stood by the stove for 3o minutes tops to do the parboil, and then babysat the bagels baking in the oven for 20 more minutes. Now, with perhaps 90 minutes of actual work behind me, we have bagels. Fresh, still warm, glossy, bubbly-crusted, chewy, crunchy-with-poppy seeds bagels.

Here’s day two.

Bagels, Finished

  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. barley malt syrup or honey (again, I used honey)
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt (or 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt)

To prepare, you need a saucepan large enough to comfortably hold 3 quarts of water at a depth of about 4 inches. Assemble another baking sheet lined with parchment, non-stick vegetable oil spray, a slotted spoon, tongs, one small bowl filled halfway with cold water, and another small bowl holding 1/2 cup poppy or sesame seeds (optional*; plain bagels are also delicious).

Remove the tray of rising bagels from the refrigerator and set on the counter to begin to bring them to room temperature. First, lift an uncooked bagel from the sheet and place it in the small bowl of cold water. This is the “float test” – if the bagel sinks, it is not yet ready to cook; if it floats, your bagel is ready.

Straight out of the fridge, the bagel will most likely sink.

No worries. Gently shake off the excess water and return the bagel to the baking sheet to rest for about 30 minutes.

Spray the parchment on the additional baking sheet lightly with non-stick spray and set aside.

After 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Begin the poaching liquid. Place the water in the saucepan, cover the pan, and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, add the malt syrup or honey, the baking soda, and the salt. Cover and lower the heat to a simmer.

Re-test a bagel in the float test. About now, after approximately 60 minutes’ wait, the bagel should float. If so, bagels are ready to parboil, top, and then bake.

Gently lift from the baking sheet and lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid. The bagels will sink a bit and then rise right back to the surface. Only put in as many as you can comfortably fit. My pan took 2 at a time, meaning I worked in 3 batches.

Simmer for 60 seconds on one side, and then flip using the slotted spoon to simmer another 30-60 seconds on the second side. Remove the parcooked bagels one at a time with the slotted spoon. For each one, place the bagel dome-side down into the poppy seeds to coat the top. Remove and place flat-side down on the prepared parchment-lined baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining 5 bagels.

When all bagels are on the baking sheet, put the pan into the preheated oven. Immediately turn the heat down to 450 degrees. Bake for 8 minutes.

After 8 minutes, open the oven and rotate the baking sheet. At this time, check to make sure the bagels aren’t browning too quickly. (If the bottoms seem to be getting too dark, Reinhart recommends slipping a second baking sheet under the first for insulation.)

Once you have rotated the sheet and checked the baking progress, bake the bagels for another 8 to 12 minutes, or until the bagels are nicely golden brown.

Cool for about 30 minutes on a cooling rack before slicing and serving.

*If you would like to try other toppings such as onion or garlic, or perhaps make raisin bagels, please refer to the Peter Reinhart recipe instructions reprinted on Epicurious.