The bagel has become one of the favored breakfast breads around the world, becoming popular in the broad community, beyond those which favored them for many years before. Commercial production has made that possible, but lacks the care, attention and devotion necessary to make truly great bagels. Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about bagel making so you can make them at home, with all the love and tenderness that makes a great bagel great.

Freshly made bagels

What is a bagel?

A bagel is traditionally a hefty, dense ring of somewhat bland tasting bread. But with different flours, such as rye and wheat, bagels take on different tastes. Add raisins, blueberries, strawberries, cinnamon, dates and nuts for a dessert-like bagel. Add veggies, onions, poppy seeds, peanut butter and other ingredients for an infinite variety of taste combinations.

The popularity of bagels is as much attributed to what you can put on them and in them as to what you add to the unbaked dough. They are the perfect vehicles for spreads. Most often spreads consist of a cream cheese base that may be mixed with salmon or lox, fruits, vegetables and spices—in myriad combination. There are regional differences in how bagels are made, and ongoing arguments about what constitutes the “perfect” bagel and best spread combination.

The traditional bagel sandwich consists of cream cheese, lox, a slice of onion and a slice of tomato. But that’s only the beginning. Bagel sandwiches are so popular that bagel bakeries often list 40 or 50 sandwich variations on their menus. Then there are mini bagels and bialys. For catered bagel brunches, there are 3- to 6- pound bagels that are filled and then cut into pie shaped wedges.

Bagels have a lot going for them. They don’t crush or smash while being carried; they don’t melt from the heat or suffer from freezing. They’re at their optimum goodness when fresh and hot from out of the oven, but they’re delicious, too, even when frozen, thawed and toasted. If they get stale, they can be made into bagel chips or ground into breadcrumbs. They’re an all-around convenient, no-waste food product that is well suited to today’s health conscious consumers.

The plain water bagel is low in calories compared to other traditional breakfast foods. Estimates as to the number of calories in a bagel differ, and its size is a factor. Most bagels weigh 4 to 5 ounces, and tally up to between 150 to 200 calories. The addition of nuts, raisins, berries, chocolate chips and other ingredients will add to the count. I saw a cracked wheat bagel in a health food store that had 320 calories. Some bagels weigh 6 ounces. Mini bagels may be 1 to 3 ounces, so the calories vary accordingly.

It’s the toppings and spreads that shoot up the calorie tab, though this can be tempered by using light and fat-free cheeses, and spreads without cheese. A whopping dollop of cream cheese slapped onto each half of a bagel (2 tablespoons of cream cheese have 10 grams of fat and 100 calories) will wipe out the innocence of the plain bagel. Two tablespoons of regular preserves (there are sugar free varieties, too) can add on 50 calories but no fat. And peanut butter? Well, you would rather not know if you’re counting calories and grams of fat.

Still, you’re better off with bagels than with a doughnut, which has 176 calories and 11 grams of fat. A homemade bran muffin (not the giant restaurant or bakery size) has 112 calories and 5 grams of fat. A large croissant has 300 calories, 17 grams of fat and 85 milligrams of cholesterol. The butter will do it every time. There is no butter in a bagel recipe. Only egg bagels have cholesterol; even that can be eliminated using egg whites instead of a whole egg (or 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute). But a sweet roll with nut and raisin Danish filing, and icing, can top them all with about 360 calories, 2.3 grams of fat and 82.2 milligrams of cholesterol.

The process is simple. Initially, the boiling procedure may seem strange, but once you’ve done it, you’ll wonder why you hesitated. Just boil a pot of water as you would for spaghetti, and boil the shaped bagel for about 2 minutes, turning once. Your first few bagels may not come out round and smooth on top, but they’ll taste good anyway. Be patient. The second batch will look better; by the third, you mat think you’re ready to go into business.

Basically, these are the basic steps required to make bagels. We’ll go into each in detail.

1. Mix, knead and first rise: Mix flour, water, salt, sugar (or malt or honey) and yeast, knead them and let the dough rise for about an hour. Mixing and kneading can be done in a bread machine, a food processor, a heavy duty mixer, or by hand. This same procedure is used to make any yeast bread.

2. Shape bagels: Form the dough into the traditional bagel shape by rolling, poking a hole in a ball or using a bagel cutter.

3. Second rise: Allow a short rest and second rise period, about 20 minutes.

4. Boil or “kettle”: Drop the bagels into boiling water for 1 to 3 minutes and drain. You can bake immediately or refrigerate for 1 to 24 hours.

5. Glaze and apply topping: This step is not essential to the final product.

6. Bake: Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 35 minutes.

STEP 1: MIX, KNEAD AND FIRST RISE:

The Bread Machine:

The bread machine yields excellent results every time when you use fresh ingredients and follow directions. Set the machine on “dough cycle”, and let it produce a dough with the texture of velvet and the stiff consistency required.

When using a bread machine, add ingredients in the order recommended in your manufacturer’s instructions. The recipes in this series have ingredients listed for machines that require adding liquids first and dry components last.

Reverse the order for those that add dry ingredients first and wet ones last. Procession the “dough mode,” or “program”, or “mix bread cycle” or whatever it is termed by your machine’s instructions. Allow the dough to rise through the full first rise period after the kneading phase, between 35 minutes and 1 hour.

On shorter cycles, and depending on the weather and moisture of the ingredients, you may have to leave it in the machine for 10 or 15 minutes longer, or until the dough fills about 2/3 of the pan. Whole grain flours may require up to 1 to 2 hours for the first rise. Do not allow the dough to bake in the machine.

Dry ingredients such as spices, cinnamon, nutmeg and finely chopped nuts are added with the fours at the beginning. Wet ingredients such as mashed bananas, applesauce, pumpkin, grated carrots and frozen berries are added with the liquids, but if you add more wet ingredients to the recipes in this series, their liquid content must replace an equal amount of liquid. Adding raisins and other dried fruits at the beginning is not recommended; most bread machines pulverize them so they’re hardly visible in the finished bagel.

Check dough about 5 minutes after you have started the machine. The dough should form a nice round ball. If a ball doesn’t form, and the mixture appears crumbly, add water, a tablespoon or less at a time, until the correct consistency is achieved. If dough looks too wet or formless, add flour, a tablespoon or less at a time, until the dough forms a ball.

Add ingredients such as raisins, dates, chocolate chips and apple pieces about 5 to 8 minutes before the end of the kneading phase. Some machine beep to indicate the optimum time to add nuts or raisins. Check your manufacturer’s instructions for the time required for each process in the dough cycle. If your machine does not provide this timed signal, determine the length of the kneading phase and set a timer for 5 minutes before the end; then open the machine and carefully add the ingredients, being sure that they do not spill onto the heating elements. Ingredients can also be kneaded into the dough by hand after it is removed from the machine.

NOTE: When adding reconstituted dried foods to the dough in a bread machine (5 to 10 minutes before the end of the kneading phase), foods should be blotted very dry with a paper towel so that any retained moisture does not change the texture of the dough and inhibit it from rising properly.

A 60 minute rise period is ideal. It’s ok to open the machine and quickly test the dough during the rise period. Gently push your finger into the dough, and if the dent remains, dough is ready. If the impression bounces back, let dough rise a few minutes longer and retest. Dough can become slack if allowed to rise too long. White flour rises highest. White flour combined with whole wheat, rye and oats will not rise as high. Generally, the darker the dough, the lower the rise and the longer it takes.

When ready, remove dough form the pan and proceed to step 2: Shape Bagels.

THE FOOD PROCESSOR

A food processor will knead dough ingredients very quickly and easily. It will reduce the process to a few minutes, even cutting down the time of the a bread machine. Our testers found the results extremely reliable. One tester much preferred it to the bread machine because he was in charge all the way and never had a failure. By mixing and kneading in the food processor and allowing the dough to rise in the microwave, bagels can be ready for boiling in under a half hour. You can optionally use the microwave for the first rise for dough that has been mixed in the bread machine, by hand or with an electric mixer. Then work the flavoring ingredients into the dough after the first rise as you would for dough made in the bread machine. Either active dry yeast or fast-rising yeast can be used.

1. Mix 1/4 of the liquid to 110-115 degrees in the microwave and add to the yeast and sugar in a small cup. Mix gently and let it rest for 5 minutes. Pour remaining liquid in a cup and make it very cool, right out of the refrigerator, or add an ice cube.

2. Put the metal cutting blade into the food processor bowl. Measure four and salt and put them into the processor bowl. Pulse tow or three times, just enough to mix the flour and salt. Add any oil or butter and pulse until it disappears, tow or three pulses.

NOTE: Most food processors can mix 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups of flour. However, it’s possible to mix a larger or double batch of dough. If the machine balks, it will stop automatically. Let it cool down and restart it. Or divide dough in half and continue processing each half separately. When mixed, knead the two batches together.

3. Pour yeast mixture into flour through the feeding tube and pulse for another 5 or 10 seconds until it forms a ball. Pulse a few more times to knead. When dough appears to come away from sides, it is ready.

4. Remove dough from the processor bowl and hand-knead to remove any gases. Let it rest for about 5 minutes. If it’s not elastic enough, add a few more drops of water; if it’s still too sticky, add a sprinkle of flour until it is smooth, velvety and elastic. The first rise can be done in a microwave oven in about 15 minutes or in a bowl in a draft-free environment for about 1 hour. Microwave ovens vary in wattage, so the rise period and settings may vary. You may have to experiment.

To use a microwave oven, after the dough is kneaded, carefully remove it and the metal blade from the processor bowl. Form dough into a rectangle long enough to wrap once around the processor bowl. Grease dough with oil or nonstick vegetable spray, but do not cover bowl. (Be sure the bowl has no metal parts.) Place the bowl in the microwave.

Method 1: Microwave on LOW (30%), or DEFROST (about 30%), for 1 minute. Let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat microwaving and resting 1 to 2 times, until the dough has doubled in size. Test with your fingers until a dent remains. If the dough springs back and dough has not doubled, microwave once more for a few minutes until a dent does remain and dough appears doubled in size.

Method 2: Or, place dough in the processor bowl as instructed. Position an 8-ounce microwave-safe cup filled with water in the back corner of the microwave. Cover the processor bowl lightly with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and place it in the microwave on LOW (30%), or DEFROST (30%) setting. Heat for 3 minutes, rest for 3 minutes, heat for 3 minutes and rest for 6 minutes, repeating the 3-minute heat and the 6-minute rest once or twice if necessary, until dough has doubled in bulk.

To allow dough to rise in a draft free environment, place dough in a large bowl lightly oiled with vegetable oil. Turn dough so all surfaces are greased. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.

Proceed to Step 2: Shape Bagels.

THE HEAVY DUTY MIXER WITH A DOUGH HOOK

A heavy duty electric mixer with a dough hook will make short work of mixing small or large batches of dough quickly.

Combine the warm liquid (110-115 degrees), syrup, honey or sugar, oil and yeast, and then add half the flour and all other dry ingredients. Add remaining flour until a ball forms.

The dough hook will do part or all of the kneading, which should take about 5 minutes. If the dough begins to strain the machine, add more water so it becomes softer (check your manufacturer’s directions; a heavy duty mixer with a dough hook should have no problem kneading). When dough appears near desired consistency, remove it from the bowl and knead in extra dough until it forms a soft ball. Follow the same first rise procedures as in the hand mixing or food processor methods. If a fast-rising yeast is used, the first rise is not necessary.

Proceed to Step 2: Shape Bagels.

BY HAND:

Mix together warm water (110-115 degrees), yeast and 1 tsp. sugar and let stand for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, add remaining sugar, salt and 2 cups flour. Stir in the yeast mixture. Add remaining flour, stirring to form dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead dough by hand, adding more flour as necessary, for 10 to 15 minutes until dough is smooth, shiny, stiff and elastic. Keep the board and your hands dusted with flour to prevent sticking.

Knead by pushing down on the dough with the palms of your hands, exerting pressure from your shoulders. Lift the dough from the top edge, turn it a quarter turn, fold it in half, press again, turn, fold, press, and repeat the process until dough forms a cohesive ball. When the dough is no longer sticky, stretch it to help develop elasticity. Knead it a few more times (by now you should be about ready to drop dead and buy frozen Lender’s.) Drop it on your board, lift it, pick it up again and drop it again, continuing to stretch, drop and knead a few more times. If it becomes too stiff, add a few drops of water; if too sticky, add a little more flour. When optimally kneaded and shaped into a ball, dough will spring back when poked gently.

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl. Turn dough so all surfaces are greased. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour. The test for proper rising, which about doubles the mass of the dough in size, is to poke two fingers lightly and quickly about 1/2″ into dough. If dent stays, dough is doubled.

Proceed to Step 2: Shape Bagels

STEP 2: SHAPE BAGELS

Prepare baking sheets by lightly greasing them with nonstick vegetable spray, or oil with a little vegetable oil spread with your fingertips or waxed paper.

Reach into the bread machine pan and pull dough out (if it is slightly sticky, dip your fingers into flour first.) Some machines punch dough down automatically at the end of the rise cycle, and just the act of removing the dough from the pan is usually adequate to remove gases, but you may need to punch dough down to remove any remaining air. Or, remove dough from bowl or food processor bowl and punch down.

Knead dough once or twice and let it rest for 5 minutes. If the dough is still a little too wet and sticky, lightly flour the bread board or your hands and knead the dough manually, until it has a smooth, elastic consistency. Bagel dough should be stiff but elastic; if it’s too stiff, sprinkle a little water on it or moisten your hands and knead the moisture into dough. After you’ve made one or two batches of bagels, you’ll get the feeling of the ideal consistency.

Roll and pull dough into a rectangle about 10×14″ for a 1-pound recipe and 14×18″ for a 1 1/2-pound recipe, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with dried fruits, nuts, vegetables, seeds, spices, chocolate, or any combination of flavorings. Roll dough into a log and knead the ingredients into the dough for a minute or so.

The dough should weigh a little more than the size recipe you are using. Divide dough into pieces depending on the size bagel you want. A 1 1/2-pound recipe yields 8 to 12 finished bagels, each weighing 2 to 3 ounces, measuring about 4 inches across. Use a food scale if you want consistency, or measure with a ruler. Cut smaller pieces for mini bagels. Knead in added ingredients well before shaping each bagel. You can also divide dough and add different ingredients to each part so you get a varied batch of bagels from one recipe.

Shape using any of the following methods:

HOLE IN THE MIDDLE METHOD: Roll each piece of dough into a ball, poke a floured finger through the center to form the hole, and then shape top and smooth sides. Moisten your finger with water, if necessary to smooth. Pull gently to enlarge hole. The resulting bagel is smooth and there is no joint.

OR, press the round on your floured board. Using the index fingers of both hands, poke a hole and pull dough until the hole is large, and then round out the bagel and smooth the top and edges.

THE HULA HOOP AROUND THE FINGER METHOD: Create a circle without a joint by flattening a ball of dough slightly into a round shape, folding the bottom edge under and smoothing it until it looks like a mushroom top. With a floured index finger, make a hole in the center of the circle from the bottom up. Twirl the circle around your index finger, or two fingers, like a hula-hoop, to widen the hole. Pull out and shape the round.

THE ROPE METHOD: Roll each piece of dough into a rope by rolling it on the bread board or between your hands. Wrap the rope around four fingers, overlap and join the ends, and turn the circle inside out. Until you get this hand movement down pat, you may have to moisten the ends to hold them together. Initially the length may be lumpy and the joint will show. It takes practice.

OR, roll dough into 30″ lengths, cut each length into thirds (each 10″ long) and join the ends. If you become proficient at this hand-made method, make 10″ marks on the edge of your bread board so your bagels will be a consistent size.

BAGEL CUTTER METHOD: Roll dough out to a flat shape about 1/2″ thick. Cut with a bagel cutter and smooth the tops over the sides so they’re rounded, using a little water on your fingers to smooth, if necessary. Knead scraps again, reroll and cut into as many more bagels as there is dough. If you don’t have a bagel cutter, use a wide champagne glass to cut out the outside. Cut the inside hole with the edge of a cordial glass or the small end of a measuring jigger. Any leftover dough can be rolled into two strips and made into a bagel twist (separate recipe), sealing ends with a dab of water so they don’t untwist while boiling and baking.

Place shaped bagels on the greased baking sheet for the second rise, spacing them at least an inch apart to allow for the second rise. Proceed to Step 3: Second Rise.

STEP 3: SECOND RISE

During the second rising of the dough, the bagels will puff up on the greased baking sheet. Cover them with a length of plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray or a very lightly dampened cloth such as a tea towel. Place them in a draft free location and let them rise at room temperature until puffy, about 20 minutes.

NOTE: Bagels can be refrigerated at this point, should you decide to boil and bake them later, or the next morning. Leave them covered so they do not dry out. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to warm slightly while you boil water and preheat the oven.

The second rise can be sped up by using the microwave. Fill a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup with water and bring the water to a boil. Place in a corner of the microwave. Place the baking sheet of covered bagels in the microwave and close the door, but so not turn on the microwave. The bagels should rise in a bout 6 minutes. (It won’t matter if the sheet is metal because you don’t turn on the oven.)

Or, spray shaped tops of dough with water. Place bagels on a microwave-safe surface and heat in the microwave on LOW or DEFROST setting for 3 minutes; rest for 3 minutes. Repeat heating and resting until bagels are puffy.

Proceed to Step 4: Boil or “kettle”.

STEP 4: BOIL OR “KETTLE”

Fill a 4- to 6- quart soup pot with water 3 to 4 inches deep. Water alone can be used, or add 2 tbs. malt syrup, honey or sugar.

Preheat the oven to 400F., so it’s ready when you’re through boiling the bagels.

Drop bagels one at a time into the boiling water. Boil about 4 at a time or only so many that they float freely and so not crowd; they will expand further in the hot water. The bagel may sink to the bottom for a few seconds, and then float to the surface. Simmer for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side, turning with a slotted spatula. Remove and put on a lightly greased rack or a lightly floured tea towel for a few minutes to drain.

HINT: Put the top side of the bagel down into water first, and then turn over.

When you remove them, the bagels will be top side up and slide off your spatula for draining and adding toppings.

When cool enough to handle, proceed to Step 5: Glaze and Apply Topping, or if you omit this step, proceed to Step 6: Bake.

STEP 5, OPTIONAL: GLAZE AND APPLY TOPPING

GLAZES: Brush tops with glaze either before placing them in the oven or about 5 minutes into the baking and then again about 5 minutes before the end of baking. I’ve tried all the glazes listed below on the same bagels in one batch, using white flour bagels and whole grain flour bagels. Despite claims in some cookbooks that different glazes yield different shades and crustiness, I found no appreciable difference in either color or texture of the crusts when applied to bagels. You may have a different result.

Water Glaze: A spray or brushing with room-temperature tap water will yield a subtle glaze similar to using the steam baking method (described elsewhere in directions). Try brushing some bagels at the beginning of the baking, some 5 minutes after and some near the end, and compare the differences.

Nonstick Vegetable Spray Glaze: an easy, quick, effective, low calorie glaze is a spray of nonstick vegetable spray. It goes on more evenly than using a brush, yet yields an even glaze. Spray before placing in the oven and again about 5 minutes before baking time is completed.

Melted Butter or Margarine Glaze: This glaze produces the same effect as vegetable oil. Watch the bagels carefully so they don’t burn.

Egg Glaze #1: Mix together 1 egg white, 1 egg yolk or 1 whole egg with 1 tbs. water, milk, or cream.

Egg Glaze #2: Lightly beat 1 egg white. You can brush it on the bagels either before they are put into the oven or 5 minutes after baking time has begun, and 5 minutes before the baking is finished.

Cornstarch Glaze: Dissolve 2 tbs. cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water. Bring 1 cup water to a boil and whisk the dissolved solution into the boiling water until it thickens. This cornstarch mixture can be kept in the refrigerator for several days. Brush it on the bagel tops at the beginning of the baking and again as soon as you remove the bagels from the oven for a very high shine.

TOPPINGS: A variety of toppings can be added to the bagel before baking, either directly to the dough after kettling, or after the bagel is glazed. Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, caraway seeds and coarse salt are easiest to use because they can be placed in a dish directly from the jar, and the bagel can be dipped into the dish; the seeds adhere to the moist dough. Or they can be sprinkled on top of the bagels just before baking, and pressed down lightly to adhere. I’ve seen bagels with sparse toppings and those that are covered from top to bottom. There’s no right or wrong way.

Add 1/2 cup finely chopped, sauteed onions to the tops of the bagels.

Add 1/2 cup finely chopped raw onions to the tops of the bagels; they will cook right along with the bagels.

Use dehydrated onion flakes or packaged onion soup that you have reconstituted with water, olive oil, or vegetable oil. Use 1 tbs. dry product to 1/2 tbs. water or oil, and soak for 2 to 3 minutes.

Mix together 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions, 1 green onion (white part only), 2 tsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. poppy seeds.

Sprinkle with garlic salt, finely chopped fresh garlic or garlic flakes.

For the “Everything Bagel” (see recipe), combine 1/2 cup finely chopped onions, 1 clove garlic, finely chopped, and 1/4 cup sesame seeds. Sprinkle mixture on bagel tops before baking.

Use ground caraway or whole caraway seeds. These are particularly good on rye bagels. They can be combined with the topping for the “everything bagel”.

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, adjusting the “heat” to your liking.

Top with mixed fresh herbs, including parsley, chives and dill.

Dip into or distribute about 1/4 cup coarse salt or kosher salt on top of 1 batch of bagels just before baking.

Poppy, caraway, sesame and celery seeds can be used directly from the jar. Just dip the bagels into a dish of seeds or sprinkle seeds on top.

Toasting nuts before using them on (and in) bagels enhances their flavor. Walnuts, almonds, pecans or hazelnuts can be used on bagels as toppings and also added to the dough at the beginning or before they are shaped and rise the second time.

Sprinkle with rolled oats or multigrain cereal, which will brown while baking.

Proceed to Step 6: Baking

STEP 6: BAKE

Place bagels on a shelf just below the middle in a preheated 400F. oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops are a nice golden brown.

BAKING SURFACES:

Bake the bagels on a baking sheet. The easiest surface available to most home cooks is an aluminum cookie sheet or flat Teflon-coated sheet pan. Coat with a little oil and sprinkle very lightly with yellow cornmeal to prevent bagels from sticking. Or line the pan with parchment paper; it eliminates the use of oil and cornmeal and cleaning pans.

Bake the bagels on wooden boards (described earlier in directions). Place bagels on the boards bottom side up to form a crusty bottom, and flip them off the board after 2 or 3 minutes onto a stone or sheet to continue baking.

Bake the bagels directly on a baking stone or tiles. Place the stone or tiles on the lowest rack. Or line a baking sheet with the tiles and place that on the lowest rack. Preheat the oven, with stone or tiles inside, to 400F. for 1 hour before baking. Sprinkle cornmeal on the stone or tiles. Transfer unbaked bagels to the hot surface with a wooden peel (a long-handled wooden paddle used in baking), or any flat instrument with a long handle so you don’t burn yourself; wear heavy padded gloves.

Do not wash or immerse stone or tiles in cold water while they are hot; they may crack. Soak the cooled stone or tiles in cold water and scrape with a spatula. Do not use soap, as the surfaces tend to absorb soap, which will be imparted to the bagels. Stones and tiles will discolor, but that won’t affect their baking ability. Don’t place a hot stone directly on your kitchen counter; depending on the material, the heat could leave a mark.

Steam baking gives bagel tops a crisp crust and extra shine. Create steam during the first few seconds of the baking by spraying the sides of the preheated oven with water from a spray bottle when you place the bagels inside. Place a heavy pan in the lower part of the oven bottom while it is heating. Place the bagels in the oven and then pour cold water or half a dozen ice cubes into the pan.

STORING AND USING BAGELS:

Bagels are best when they’re eaten fresh from the oven while still warm. Because they don’t usually contain egg or milk, they tend to dry out faster than breads that contain these ingredients. If you can’t consume all the bagels in a reasonably short time, freezing them is recommended. It’s smart to slice them horizontally before freezing so you can toast only half at a time, if you wish.

Thaw bagels on the kitchen counter in a plastic bag for about 15 minutes or toast directly from the freezer. Or zap them in the microwave oven for about 1 minute on DEFROST and then toast them until lightly browned on top. Microwaving too long will make them tough.

What if a few bagels get stale? Put them into your blender or food processor and grind them into breadcrumbs. None of the tasty bread need ever go to waste!

There doesn’t seem to be one dominant story about the origin of bagels, though a common thread weaves through them all. In her book, Jewish Cooking in America, Joan Nathan says, “The boiled and baked roll with a hole dates possibly from the Roman period.”

However, the bagel in America is apparently a descendant of Polish ancestors. It dates back to 1863 when the Polish general, John Sobieski, rescued Vienna from the Turks. When Sobieski returned from his victorious battle and rode his horse through the town, the grateful populace clung to the stirrups of his saddle, which were called “breugels.” In honor of this triumphant deed, they fashioned bread in the shape of his stirrups and called it by that name. Eventually, the stirrup shape became round and the name became “bagel.” (Some historians think the French croissant shape also attributes its origin to the replica of a stirrup.)

Another story is that the word derives from the German word, “beigen”, which means “to bend”, and that the bagel is a descendent of the pretzel. Still another story is that the bagel’s round hole developed so that street vendors could pile the bread on poles and carry them around more easily to sell from their carts.

THE AMERICAN BAGEL:

Bagels found their way to America vis the Polish immigration of the late 1800’s, but were popular only among the Polish Jews who settled in New York. Between 1910 and 1915 a Bagel Bakers’ Local #388 union formed. Eventually, men who apprenticed to the first 300 bakers of that union moved to different parts of the country. In the early 1950’s, the Broadway comedy, Bagels and Yox, played to standing-room-only-audiences, and bagels were distributed during intermission. Soon after, Time and Family Circle magazines ran recipes for “bageles.”

Harry Lender, who had emigrated from Lublin, Poland, taking his cue from the interest generated by the magazine articles, converted his New Haven, Connecticut, bakery into a bagel bakery. In 1955, Lender and his son, Murray, packaged their bagels to sell to supermarkets. In 1960, the first bagel-making machine, invented by Dan Thompson, was introduced. Add bagels had been made by hand before then. By 1962, the Lenders began freezing bagels and marketing them nationally.

Bagels began a known, traceable thread in their westward emigration in 1967. Eddie Kaye and Harold Block, who had been sent to the Midwest by their New York garment industry companies, and their wives, bemoaned their inability to buy bagels in this “hinterland outpost.” In an interview, Kaye’s wife, Sue, now living in Carlsbad, California, told me they contacted a New York friend whose father was an old time bagel baker and used his recipes to open their first bakery in Columbus, Ohio, called Hot Bagels, Inc. Following it’s success they opened another in Cincinnati and hired John Marx, a former bouncer in a Cincinnati bar, as a manager.

Eventually Marx bought the bakeries, sponsored sports teams and athletic events, advertised on TV and on the teams’ tee shirts and his bagel bakery boomed. Marx, who is neither Polish or Jewish, currently operates three very successful Cincinnati bagel bakeries called Marx Hot Bagels Factory, Inc. DBA Marx Hot Bagels. Occasionally John wears his Bagelman outfit, which he first designed in 1971, when he was invited to demonstrate how to hand roll bagels for a folk festival at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Then CBS’s Charles Kuralt spent an entire day filming an “On the Road” sequence at Marx’s tiny, but very busy, bakery. Marx now makes bagels in about 50 varieties. He also spends a lot of time in his red Bagelman cap, shorts, cape and blue tights, speaking to schoolchildren about the importance of learning to read and staying in school.

With bagel bakeries opening everywhere today, their names are as varied as the flavors and assortment of spreads they offer. There are Baltimore Bagels, Garden State Bagels, Top-O-The-Bagel, I-N-Joy Bagels and others. The Bagel Boyz, operated by brothers from South Africa, is a play on the words “bagel boys”. In that country a bagel boy is a young man who is used to having everything and living in the lap of luxury. “As a child, my grandmother made bagels every Sunday morning,” explained Ben Lang, owner of Bagel Boyz in Encinitas, California. “Her bagels were very hard and chewy and tasted completely different from those we bake in America.”

Bagels have become a favored food in far corners of the world. I noshed on them at the Hong Kong Bagel Bar. I found a bagel bakery doing a booming business near the University of Texas in Austin. In the past couple of years, five bagel bakeries have opened within a few miles of my southern California home. In Peoria, Illinois, I bought huge, soft bagels in a giant food discount store. The expression, “If it plays in Peoria, it will play anywhere,” apparently applies to bagels too.

Inevitably the popularity of bagels is inspiring home bakers to flour their bread boards, heat up their ovens and bake bagels.

Bread machines have revolutionized home bread baking and removed the tedium of mixing and kneading dough. We’ve targeted bagel recipes that we’ve tested specifically for bread machines, a foolproof process when ingredients are measured and timing followed. The same recipes are a breeze to make in a food processor, with a heavy-duty electric mixer, or by hand. We also describe how dough rises quickly in a microwave oven, thereby reducing the preparation and processing time considerably. Using the combination of food processor or electric mixer and microwave now means you can literally have bagels from dough to oven in about 25 minutes.

Boiling is the important step that gives bagels their unmatched chewable quality and adds the distinctive shine to the crusty surface. It’s a deceptively easy task. Boiling the shaped dough is like making pasta, but faster and easier. It’s certainly easier than making croissants, for example.

You can make bagels of almost any flavor and size, given the parameters of your kneading ability, and the size of your boiling or “kettling” pot and oven. A 1 1/2 pound bread machine produces 8 to 12 bagels, depending on the size of the bagels. Hand-mixing and heavy-duty electric mixers can deal with larger dough batches.

WHY MAKE BAGELS AT HOME WHEN THEY ARE SO READILY AVAILABLE?

You can load them with your favorite ingredients and really taste them. I’ve tasted and analyzed many good commercially made bagels, but some have one or two raisins in a cinnamon-raisin bagel, one chip in a chocolate chip bagel and no taste at all in a pineapple-coconut bagel, with no sign of any pineapple. If I hadn’t read the bin label, I would have thought I was eating a plain bagel.

The aroma of baking bagels will have your family tumbling out of bed in the morning, anxious to eat them warm right from the oven. Make them for guests — they’ll talk about it for years.

The satisfaction of shaping sough and creating delicious bagels is hard to describe. Children revel in taking a ball of dough, working in a few raisins or chocolate chips into it, and then punching a hole through it. They follow the process through boiling and baking until they see “their” bagel, shiny and hot, emerge from the oven.

Finally, your homemade bagels will have no preservatives and no artificial flavoring. When you bake bagels, you know what’s going into them. And if you’re allergic to any flours normally used, it’s easy to find substitutes.

In this book, along with innovative recipes for bagels, you’ll find suggestions for spreads, sandwiches and canapes. Use these for homemade bagels and also for bagels you buy. Most bagel stores and delis offer a dozen or so spreads and sandwiches, some inspired, but most are ordinary because they’re the ones that sell the best. At home, you have triple the choice. Any will look elegant and taste haute gourmet if you serve them for bagel brunches, lunches, and at different holidays. the cranberry spreads, for example, will delight your family and guests for Thanksgiving.

What is the real test of a good bagel? If you and your family like them, that’s all that matters. Fortunately, there are no tests, no standards. No one can agree on what is “best.” So surge forward. Bake bagels and embellish them according to your tastes.

BREAD FLOUR: This flour is recommended for bagels because it has sufficient gluten to give a bagel it’s chewy crust. Bread flour absorbs a little more liquid than all-purpose of unbleached flour and yields amore “elastic” feeling when kneaded. Bread flour, sometimes labeled “high-protein” flour, may require more kneading than all-purpose flour. Unbleached flour can be substituted for bread flour.

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR: Whole wheat flour is light brown in color and contains all natural nutrients. It’s the most popular addition to white flour. Whole wheat flour should not exceed 50% of the total flour content. Whole wheat, and other whole grain flours, do not have as much gluten and will not rise as high as white flours. One cup whole wheat flour is equal to 7/8 cup white flour. If you’re replacing 1/2 cup white flour, use 1/2 cup plus 1 tbs. whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour may also be sold as graham flour in health food stores. A good substitute for whole wheat flour is spelt flour, a grain that is easier to digest than wheats and often used by people with gluten intolerance.

RYE FLOUR: Rye flour can yield a variety of flavors and textures. Types include dark rye, light rye and coarse rye. The amount of rye flour also controls the taste. Stone-ground rye, sometimes available in health food stores, has the best flavor. Pumpernickel flour is medium-ground rye flour, and it’s labeled medium-rye on commercial packages.

OATS: Use rolled oats, not instant. This is the same product sold for oatmeal cereal with its flaky consistency. Oat bran and oat flour can be substituted for rolled oats in smaller quantities (1 cup oats equals about 2/3 cup oat bran or oat flour). Oat flour can be purchased in health food stores or by mail order. Rolled oats can be ground into oat flour in a blender or food processor.

BRAN: Unprocessed Miller’s bran is a natural grain product high in dietary fiber. It can be used interchangeably with processed bran flakes. both can be found with breakfast cereals in supermarkets. You need 1 cup bran flakes to equal about 2/3 cup bran.

CORNMEAL: Cornmeal is ground from corn kernels; the most common cornmeal is yellow, but there are also white and blue. It is used in many recipes along with other flours. A thin sprinkling of cornmeal is used on the baking sheet or baking stone to provide a nonstick baking surface for the bagels.

VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN: This is the natural protein derived from wheat. Adding it to rye, whole wheat and other whole grains increases the protein value of bread and provides the elasticity in the dough to allow the yeast to develop gases, at the same time holding them in to yield a less dense, lighter dough with greater volume. the fine, powdery product can be purchased in health food stores. Recommended additions are: 1 1/2 tsp. per 1 cup flour for whole grain breads and 1 tsp. per cup of flour for white breads. Use a little more gluten when using raisins, nuts, seeds and brans. Gluten should be well mixed with the flour. I have suggested that vital gluten is optional, but once you begin using it, it may become essential; testing showed that breads and bagels with added vital gluten were lighter and tastier than those made without it.

YEAST: Yeast is responsible for the density of the bagel, and often the difference in regional recipes. For all recipes, active dry yeast is assumed and amounts given are for a moderately-dense bagel as close as possible to the accepted standard of a New York-style bagel. Yeast is composed of thousands of tiny living plants which, when given moisture, warmth and “food”, will grow and give off a gas (carbon dioxide); it is that gas which makes dough rise.

Yeast is available in active dry and in compressed fresh forms. One package or 1 scant tablespoon on active dry yeast is equivalent to 1 cake (3/4oz) of compressed yeast. Cake yeast is not recommended for bread machines, but could be used to make bagels with other methods. There is also fast-rising yeast which can be converted to work as active dry yeast. Reduce the amount of fast-rising yeast by 25% when substituting it for active dry yeast and reduce the first rising time. To convert fast-rising yeast to active dry yeast, add 1 teaspoon of sugar to 1/2 cup water per 1 packet of yeast.

Buy and use yeast before it’s life potency date expires; all bottles and packages of yeast are dated. For denser bagels, reduce the yeast called for in the recipe by 1/2 teaspoon. For spongier, less dense bagels, increase the yeast by 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon.

MALT SYRUP: Malt syrup, made from barley, helps give bagels their unique appeal. Malt assists with browning, and feeds the yeast. It’s available in jars where health food supplies are sold (used as a sweetener) or from stores that sell beer brewing supplies. Malt powder can be substituted in amounts comparable to liquid malt. Honey, molasses, or brown or white sugar can be substituted for malt syrup.

DARKENING AGENTS: Baker’s caramel, also called blackjack, is a natural coloring agent that bakers use to give dark breads, such as pumpernickels and ryes, their hearty hues. Essentially, it’s burnt or caramelized sugar, and it resembles dark-brewed coffee in appearance. Substitutes are unsweetened cocoa and instant coffee crystals. another substitute is Kitchen Bouquet, a gravy-coloring agent, available in grocery soup or flavorings sections. It does contain extra salt, so it may slightly alter the bagel’s flavor.

WATER: Many bread recipes call for tap water, which is more to indicate water temperature than quality. Water temperature should be about 110-115 degrees, the range needed to activate yeast. In cold weather, tap water may be too cold. A thermometer will help determine water temperature. If necessary, warm the water slightly in the microwave or in a pot for a few seconds to bring it to the proper temperature. I like to use bottled water because water where I live tastes so bad I won’t drink it straight or use it for coffee. So why put it in bread? It also provides a constant for testing and comparing bagels in different cities.

Tap water can be used for boiling the bagels. Someone told me that soft water yields soft bagels and hard water yields hard bagels, but that’s not so. There’s also a rumor that New York bagels are different and better than all others because of the Hudson River water. This has been debunked by every bagel baker with whom I spoke (except those in New York). Besides, New York bagels differ from each other by bakeries.

EGGS: Traditional water bagels do not call for eggs, but many recipes can benefit from the addition of eggs and, of course, they’re used in egg bagels. Egg bagels generally are softer than water bagels and the dough tends to rise more. Use fresh whole eggs or substitute 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute for 1 egg.

SALT: Any commercial table salt can be used. Kosher and coarse salt are used as a topping.

SHORTENINGS AND OILS: Vegetable oils used in bagel recipes, such as canola oil, peanut oil, corn oil and similar natural oils, tenderize the bread, give it flavor, improve the texture and add preserving qualities. The traditional Jewish bagel does not have oil, but many people like the flavor and softer texture that results when oil has been used. It’s strictly optional. Nonstick vegetable sprays can be used for greasing the pan as well as for adding a glaze to the bagel top.

ADDING INGREDIENTS FOR FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:

The bagel flavor depends largely on the freshness, quality and amount of added ingredients. Be generous with dried fruits, especially those that you work in before shaping. Use them in raisin sized chunks rather than finely chopping them, so you get a substantial taste when you bite into the bagel. Almost every kind of fruit is now available dried from specialty shops, or by mail.

Be creative. Combine ingredients to create your individualized bagel flavor combinations. Use dried fruits for most additions and experiment with fresh fruits. Canned and frozen fruits do not work well; they add too much liquid and often discolor the dough. Canned olives and chilies such as Jalapenos are fine if they are well drained and blotted almost dry on paper towels before adding.

THE MINI BAGEL:

Use any bagel recipe for mini bagels, which measure about 2″ in diameter. Divide 1-pound recipes into 10 to 12 pieces. Divide 1 1/2-pound recipes into 12 to 15 pieces, Shape, leaving a large center hole, as the holes tend to close up as the bagels rise and bake. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 400F. Watch them carefully while baking so they don’t become too brown.

THE BAGEL STICK:

The bagel stick is shaped like a short, fat breadstick instead of the usual bagel shape. It can be served plain or covered with seeds. It’s similar to the garlic or salt breadstick, only chewier like a bagel, rather than crisp like a breadstick. Use the Basic New York Water Bagels recipe. After rising, roll the dough into a flat rectangle, spread with toppings, cut into strips and shape into rounded lengths with smooth ends; 6″ is a good length. Then proceed with the second rise, kettling and baking. Bagel sticks can be coated with seeds such as poppy, sesame, celery or caraway before they are baked. Minced onions and kosher salt are favorites too.

If you like a softer dough, make the sticks with the egg recipe, and dip them into finely chopped walnuts, almonds, pecans, pine nuts or mixed nuts.

THE CHURRO STICK:

The churro stick is a variation of both the breadstick and the dessert-like Mexican churro. The churro is a long roll of soft pastry dough, fried and dipped in sugar. Instead, make the bagel stick as directed above, and roll it in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. It’s not greasy and it is much lower in calories than the churro.

THE BAGEL TWIST:

The bagel twist, made with water bagel dough or egg dough, looks like a miniature challah, except that only 2 lengths of dough are twisted together (challas use three strands for braiding.) Roll out 10″ lengths of dough about the thickness of a pen. Seal one end of each together with a dab of water if necessary. Then twist the lengths and pinch and seal at the other end. Let them rise the second time; then boil and sprinkle tops with poppy or sesame seeds before baking.

THE TWIST WITH A TWIST:

For a variation on the bagel twist, use two types of dough, a dark pumpernickel and a white dough, for an interesting color “twist.”

THE MARBLED BAGEL:

Use the two colored dough concept, as in the “twist with a twist” and form them together carefully to make single bagels. the marbled bagel is a delicious and attractive addition to a platter filled with single color bagels. Adding a glaze makes this gourmet bagel as pretty as a picture and delicious, as well.

THE PARTY BAGEL:

Another popular bagel variation is an oversized party bagel, which can measure as large as the pot you have in which to boil it. Some bagel bakeries make them from 3 to 6 1/2 pounds. For a bagel larger than the 1, 1 1/2 or 2 pound capacity of a bread machine, combine two or more recipes. Refrigerate one while the other is rising. Or prepare with an electric mixer or by hand. the large party bagel will need to be boiled for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side and baked until nicely browned. Poppy seed topping adds to it’s attractive appearance.

When baked, cut it horizontally through the center and stuff it with a selection of deli meats, cheeses, or lox and cream cheese, and garnish the top with tomatoes, onion rings and olives. cut into pie shaped wedges for serving.

I have to stop in the middle of making bagels. What should I do?

Dough can be refrigerated at any time after the first rise, and removed from the refrigerator to continue the process. Dough can be frozen at any stage after the first rise, and then thawed and the process resumed. When storing dough in the freezer or refrigerator, shape it into a flat disk, seal it in a locking plastic freezer bag or wrap it in airtight heavy-duty aluminum foil, to keep it from drying out. Label and date the package. It can remain for about 1 week in the refrigerator and for several weeks in the freezer.

The flour sometimes attracts pests.

Place a couple of bay leaves in flour containers to ward off any bugs. Small bags can be placed in the freezer overnight, or longer, to kill any lurking larvae. Freezing or refrigerating flour will keep it fresh longer; allow it to warm to room temperature before using.

I can hear the bread machine working, but nothing is moving.

If nothing is happening, you probably forgot to insert the dough mixing blade into the pan. Always replace it correctly in the pan as soon as you’ve washed the pan.

Dough is wet and sticky, and fails to form a ball in the machine.

There is probably too much liquid. Add flour, a tablespoon or less at a time until a ball forms.

The dough in the machine looks dry, and is in small clumps.

There is not enough liquid. Add liquid, a tablespoon or less at a time, until a ball forms.

The bagels taste strange.

Forget to add one or more ingredients? Or did you add the wrong ones? Organize your baking shelf so ingredients are in the order required by the machine manufacturer. Take them all out when you begin, and put each one back as soon as you’ve used it.

Bagel bottoms are burned.

Using a thin aluminum cookie sheet or aluminum foil? Bagels tend to bake hotter and faster on Teflon-coated baking sheets. Try a lower temperature, a longer baking time and a darker baking surface than shiny aluminum. Place the pan just below the middle of the oven, not at the bottom rack position. Also, check your oven’s temperature with an oven thermometer. Or adjust the baking time and temperature.

The bagel seems too dense and tough.

Boil the bagels too long? Boiling too long can make the dough dense and tough. There may also be mixing problems; too much flour or too much whole grain flour will make the dough heavy and dense. Measure carefully. Add gluten to the dough and extra liquid to dough. Weather can be a factor too.

Dough was improperly kneaded.

This is more likely to happen when kneading by hand or with a food processor or heavy-duty mixer. Dough must be worked long enough to activate the gluten and make the dough elastic. Stretching dough while kneading is necessary for activating gluten.

Dough doesn’t rise.

Is the yeast old or was it improperly stored? Yeast should be used before the expiration date on the package and, once opened, it should be refrigerated.

How do you store the bagels properly?

Bagels stale rapidly. They should either be eaten while they’re fresh or stored in the freezer. Defrost them quickly (under a minute) on LOW in a microwave, or at room temperature, and then toast. Or cut in half before freezing, and toast the halves directly from the freezer.

Honey and molasses are hard to measure, because they stick to the spoon.

When recipes call for both oil and sticky sweeteners, such as malt syrup, honey or molasses, measure the oil first and use the same spoon for the sweetener; it will slide off the spoon easily.

I live in a high altitude area.

All bread books caution that in areas that are 3,000 feet or more above sea level, high altitude adjustments may be required. There are no exact rules and some experimentation should be expected. I tested six basic recipes at 6,000 feet (Albuquerque, New Mexico, in winter), and found no consistent difference in the amounts of ingredients needed. Some recipes require a little extra water, but that may have been for a variety of reasons. Even the boiling time remained consistent, although some people who live at high altitudes reported that they boiled the bagels for up to 6 minutes. Longer than that made them hard as rocks.

BAGELS WITH A SHMEAR

Associating bagels with cream cheese is as natural as thinking of moms and apple pie. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with unaltered cream cheese, but combine it creatively with herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, jellies and jams, and the good tastes multiply.

ALL CREAM CHEESES ARE NOT THE SAME

Think cream cheese and probably the first image you conjure is a silver paper-wrapped package of PHILADELPHIA BRAND Cream cheese in perfectly shaped 3- or 8- ounce bricks. Today, there are different types of cream cheeses packaged by a variety of companies — “lite”, “fat-free”, “whipped” and “soft” varieties. How are they alike and different?

Cream cheese is a soft, uncured cheese made of cow’s milk, with cream added. The type was originated in 1872 by a dairyman from Chester, New York, named Lawrence. The special richness and smoothness of cream cheese comes from the whole milk and added cream. It is one of the few world-famous cheeses made from the lactic acid method rather than the rennet method of coagulating the curd. In 1880, another cheese maker contracted to distribute the cheese under the PHILADELPHIA BRAND trademark. In the late 19th century, Philadelphia was known for its superb-quality dairy products, so the cheese was named for the Philadelphia although it was not made there. PHILADELPHIA BRAND Cream Cheese became a Kraft product in 1928.

Neufchatel cheese is a soft rennet cheese made of cow’s milk. Its major source is the Department of Seine Interieur, France. Neufchatel is made in the same manner as cream cheese, but its moisture content is higher, its fat content and calories are lower and it is softer than the standard cream cheese. It is sometimes flavored with pimento or spices.

Light cream cheese has one-third less fat than regular cream cheese. Generally skim milk replaces whole milk and reduces the fat content. Its name and fat content vary by cheese-processing companies. Check labels among products and compare calorie and fat content.

Fat free or nonfat cream cheese offers consumers zero fat content.

Soft cream cheese was introduced in 1980 under the PHILADELPHIA BRAND, and is now available under many different brands. It is nearly identical in flavor to brick cream cheese; however, the body and texture are significantly different.

Also on the market are light and fat-free soft cream cheeses.

Whipped cream cheese has a fluffy consistency due to a whipping process that incorporates air into the cheese. Whipped cream cheese is available already flavored as well as plain.

STORING AND FREEZING CHEESES

Cream cheese and Neufchatel cheese are very perishable and should be refrigerated until ready to use. Kraft Food Company recommends that once opened, either rewrap or reseal the product in its original package and place it in an additional plastic storage bag or other airtight container. Refrigerate immediately and use within 2 weeks after opening.

Many cheese packages are dated with a “best when purchased by” caution. Look for the dates on a box top, and end flap, a package sleeve or the bottom of a tub.

Also in your grocer’s refrigerators are cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese, ricotta cheese, Dutch cheese and pot cheese. All are variations on a textured cheese made of pasteurized skim milk to which lactic acid cultures are added. many can be substituted for cream cheese in the recipes given.

Refrigeration is the best storage for cheese. However, if you have more cheese than can be used before the freshness date stamped on the package, the following guidelines are suggested:

1. Do not freeze cream cheese that you want to use for spreading, because there will be a texture change. Regular brick cream cheese can be frozen for up to two months for use as an ingredient in recipes. Thaw in the refrigerator for approximately 12 hours or overnight.

2. Whipped cream cheese may be frozen for up to 6 months and still retain an acceptable quality fro spreading.

3. Soft cream cheese, light cream cheese, fat-free cream cheese and Neufchatel cheese should not be frozen.

SOFTENING AND SERVING CREAM CHEESE

Warm a brick of cheese to room temperature, cut it into chunks and mash it with a fork. Add up to 5 teaspoons of milk, cream, yogurt or other liquid, a little at a time, and whip with a food processor, blender, hand mixer, wire whisk or fork until smooth, creamy and of a spreading consistency.

The following recipes are for an 8-ounce package of cheese and about 5 teaspoons of milk or other liquid ingredient.

For serving, plan on 1 ounce of cream cheese for topping each bagel half. an 8-ounce package of cream cheese, sliced into rectangles, will yield enough for 8 half-bagels, or about 4 servings.

Cream cheese is also available in a 3-pound brick, which is more economical than the 8-ounce size when preparing large quantities. Soften by cutting into smaller pieces and warm at room temperature for about an hour or set in the microwave on MEDIUM for 30 seconds or until softened. Use a commercial mixer, if available. Or blend small portions at a time with a food processor, mixer or blender.

If you’re watching calories, substitute any of the lower calorie, low fat cheese products including nonfat yogurt, sour cream, ricotta cheese, or even applesauce and apple butter for regular cream cheese.

Cream cheese spreads flavored with fruits are as popular as bagels with fruits added. Serve the fruity spreads at breakfast, and for a snack any time of the day. Mix fruit with the cheese according to the recipes. Or spread your bagel with cream cheese, butter, jelly, jam or lemon curd and top with sliced or mashed fruit.

When spreads have been refrigerated to blend flavors, allow them to return to room temperature before serving, so they will be of spreading consistency.

Arrowhead Mills, Inc — flours, vital gluten PO Box 2059 Hereford TX. 79045 806-364-0730

The Chef’s Catalog — baking equipment, bagel slicers, bread makers, and mixers 3215 Commercial Ave. Northbrook, Ill. 60062 708-480-9400

Fleischmann’s Yeast — yeast PO Box 7004 San Francisco, CA 94108 800-777-4959 — baker’s help line

General Mills, Inc. Box 200-SP Minneapolis, MN 55440

Gold Medal — hints, information, how to read dating codes 800-328-6787

Great Valley Mills — flours, fruit butters, fruit spreads RD 3, County Line Rd. Box 1111 Barto, Pa 19504 800-688-6455

King Arthur Flour Baker’s Catalog — flours, baking supplies, dried fruits, seeds, spices Box 1010 Norwich, VT 05055 800-827-6836

K-Tec — flours, grains, baking supplies, Kitchen Champ Mixer 420 N. Geneva Rd. Linden, UT 84042 800-288-6455

Mountain Woods, Inc — fiddle bow bread knives PO Box 65 East Glacier Park, Mt 59434 800-8350479

Out of the Woods — fiddle bow bread knives and bagel cutters 33556 Bloomberg Road Eugene, Or 97405 800-713-3245

Red Star Yeast – A division of Universal Foods Corporation PO Box 737 Milwaukee, WI 53201 800-445-4746 #4 – baker’s help line

SAF-Instant yeast — Minneapolis, Mn 55415 800-641-4615

Walnut Acres — dried fruits, flours, baking supplies Penn’s Creek, Pa 17862 800-433-3998

Williams-Sonoma — baking supplies, yeasts, spread ingredients, machines PO Box 7456 San Francisco, AC 94120-7456 800-541-2233 – sales 800-541-1262 – customer service

Bagel Making Video Tape The Bagel Making Video 2018 Saliente Way — Suite B Carlsbad, CA 92009

For BREAD MACHINE bagel making, you will need measuring cups, measuring spoons, a rolling pin, plastic wrap, nonstick vegetable spray, a bread board, a 4 to 6 quart soup pot for boiling the bagels, a tea towel for draining them, a slotted spatula, a couple of baking sheets (preferably double aluminum or Teflon-coated) and a pastry brush. A bagel cutter is optional, depending on how you shape the bagels.

To make bagels by hand, with a heavy duty mixer with a dough hook, or with a food processor, you’ll need the equipment required for the bread machine preparation, plus bowls, rubber spatulas and mixing spoons. Bagel dough needs to be relatively stiff, and mechanical tools make quick work of an otherwise tedious process.

OTHER USEFUL EQUIPMENT:

An instant reading oven or baker’s thermometer for checking water temperature is handy, but optional. A food scale is useful for weighing dough if you’re trying to maintain a consistent size and weight for the bagels. A ruler for marking off lengths of dough or circle sizes on your kneading board will also help achieve consistent sizes.

Get a good serrated knife for cutting bagels easily. (Remember always to cut with the blade away from your fingers!) There are many special bagel holders. There are Lucite and wooden holders with slits on both sides that allegedly wedge the bagel in so you don’t have to hold it. The slits guide the knife blade through the middle. For example, the “Bagel Biter” is a plastic holder with a blade mounted within. Place the bagel in the holder, pull the handle over the base and push down so the blade cuts the bagel. The “Bagel Trap” holds the bagel tight with a spring arm so you can slice it into 2, 3 or 4 slices. There are also special bagel toasters with wider slots than a conventional toaster.

The easiest baking pan available to most home cooks is an aluminum cookie sheet or flat nonstick Teflon-coated sheet pan. A baking stone made of unglazed tile and sold in house wares shops as a pizza stone provides dry, intense direct heat that helps give bagels a crisp crust. Ordinary unglazed quarry tiles sold in tile shops are an inexpensive alternative. Tiles should be slightly less than 1/2″ thick; if they are too thick, they will take too long to heat up, and if they’re too thin, they’ll break from the heat.

Some commercial bakeries bake their bagels on wooden boards for the first 2 or 3 minutes, which gives them an overall even baking and nice crisp crust. These are lengths of 2×4’s, available at any lumber yard, long enough to fit in your oven and hold 4 to 6 bagels. They may be covered on top with a length of burlap, stapled on, but that’s not essential.

From: The Best Bagels Are Made At Home by Dona Z. Meilach

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