Makes 12 Large or 24 Mini Bagels
1 tsp Instant Yeast
4 C Unbleached High-Gluten or Bread Flour (NOT Vital Wheat Gluten Flour)
2 1/2 C Room Temperature Water
1/2 tsp Instant Yeast
3 3/4 C Unbleached High-Gluten or Bread Flour
2 3/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Malt Powder OR 1 T Dark or Light Malt Syrup, honey or brown sugar
1 T Baking Soda
Cornmeal or Semolina Flour for dusting
Sesame Seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, rehydrated dried minced garlic or onions, or chopped fresh onion that have been tossed in oil (All Optional)
1. Stir the Sponge ingredients together, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (it is supposed to look like pancake batter, but mine was really thick). 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.
2. In the same bowl, add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 C flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed in a mixer) until all of the ingredients forma ball slowly working in the remaining 3/4 C Flour.
3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or 6 minutes in a mixer). The dough should be firm but still pliable and smooth. Everything should be hydrated and pass the windowpane test. The dough should register between 77-81 degrees. If the dough seems too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems too tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required.
4. Immediately divide the dough into 4.5 ounce pieces for standard bagels or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls and let them rest for 20 minutes and prepare a sheet pan.
5. Cover 2 sheet pans with parchment and lightly spray with oil. Shape the bagels and place carefully on each pan. Shape the bagels by rolling each piece of dough into 8 inch lengths. Wrap it gently around your hand with the ends meeting in your palm. Roll the ends together to seal. Gently place each bagel on a sheet pan keeping them 2 inches apart.
6. Mist the bagels very ligtly with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit for about 20 minutes.
7. Test one bagel using the float test. Fill a small bowl with cool or room temperature water. The bagels are ready to retard overnight when one floats within 10 seconds of being dropped in the water. Test one bagel and if it floats, immediately return the bagel tot he pan and dry it off. Cover the pan and then place them in the fridge overnight. If it does not float, return it to the pan and continue proofing at room temperature and check back ever 10-20 minutes until the tester floats.
8. When you are ready to bake the bagels (either the next day or within 3 days) preheat the oven to 500 degrees with 2 racks in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the baking soda.
9. Remove the bagels from the fridge and gently drop them in the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minutes, flip them and boil for another minute. If you like chewy bagels you can extend the boiling time to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. if you want to top the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water.
10. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the middle shelves in the oven. Bake for about 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and turning the pans 180 degrees. After the rotation, lower the oven to 450 and continue baking for about 5 minutes or until the bagel turn light golden brown (it took another 10 minutes or so).
11. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.