Sunday, January 16, 2011
makes 12 bagels
1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2½ cups water, at room temperature
½ teaspoon instant yeast
3¾ cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder OR 1 Tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey or brown sugar
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.
To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.
Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). Add the cheese during the last minute or so of kneading, and knead until evenly distributed. The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
Immediately divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. For the pieces into rolls. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute flip them over and boil another minute. Sprinkle the bagels with the shredded cheddar as soon as they come out of the water.
When all the bagels have been boiled and topped, place the pans on the two middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 8 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are only baking one pan at a time, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees and continue baking for about 8 minutes, or until the bagels turn golden brown. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.