Not all bagels are created equal; in fact, truly great bagels are so hard to find, I decided to learn how to make bagels at home. This recipe for the classic bagel is easy to follow; once you get the basics down, switch up the toppings and flavors to delight every bagel lover in the house.
Soften (bloom) the yeast in the warm water for 5 minutes.
In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine flour, 2 tablespoons barley malt syrup, sugar, and salt. With the motor running on low, slowly drizzle in the yeast mixture.
Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix until shiny and smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. If the dough becomes stuck to the dough hook, scrape the dough off the hook and return to the bottom of the mixer bowl.
Turn out the dough onto a dry surface and shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl and brush with olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (80 to 85 degrees, see notes) for 20 minutes (it will double in volume).
Turn out the dough onto a dry surface and divide into 12 equal portions of dough. Working with 1 portion of a dough at a time, roll the dough into a 9-inch rope. Moisten the ends of each rope and wrap the dough around to form a circle. There should be a hole approximately the size of a quarter in the middle and the ends of the dough should overlap by at least 1 inch. Repeat with remaining portions.
Cover the shaped bagels with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place (80 to 85 degrees) for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.
Bring a large, shallow pan of water and remaining 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup to a simmer. Boil the bagels in batches, 3 to 4 at a time, for 30 seconds on each side, adjusting the heat of the stove to maintain a simmer. Remove to the cooling rack set over a baking sheet and repeat with remaining bagels. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
While the top of the bagels are still damp, sprinkle with Everything Bagel Seasoning, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or coarse salt. Transfer the bagels to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake until the bagels are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Switch the positions and rotate the orientation of the sheets halfway through baking time. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.
To create a warm environment ideal for yeast-rising, preheat your oven to its minimum temperature (170 degrees, 200 degrees), but shut it off once the temperature reaches 110 degrees. Place your dough (in a greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap), on a baking sheet and in the oven. The oven temperature will drop when you open the oven door, but enough residual heat will remain that your dough should steadily rise.
To make Everything Bagel Seasoning, combine: