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Baking with Julia: Sift, Knead,
Flute, Flour and Savor the Joys of
Baking with America's Best...

Contributing Baker Lauren Groveman
by Dorie Greenspan, based on the PBS Series
hosted by Julia Child, 1996, William Morrow and Co.

Makes 10 large bagels

“Like croissants, bagels have transcended their origins to become all-American. These are chubby bagels – boiled, then baked – with a cakey, open sponge; they
are not heavy, stretchy, or chewy. They are made with high-gluten flour, the
kind you local pizza maker uses. He might give you some, or you can order the
flour by mail, but don’t let not getting your hands on this stop you from
bageling – you’ll like what you get if you use bread flour or unbleached all-
purpose flour.
 Keep in mind that you can top your bagels with anything – one of the joys
of making bagels at home – and you can bottom them too: Sprinkle the peel
or baking sheet with any or all of your favorite toppings for around-the-
bagel flavor.”

The Bagels

2 tablespoons (approximately) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups tepid water (80 degrees to 90 degrees F)
2 tablespoons (approximately) sugar
3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (optional)
6 cups (approximately) high-gluten flour, bread flour,
or unbleached all-purpose flour

Brush the inside of a large (about 8-quart) bowl with some of the melted butter; set aside. Reserve the remaining melted butter for coating the top
of the dough.
Mixing and Kneading
  Whisk the yeast into 1/4 cup of the tepid water.
Add a pinch of sugar and let the mixture rest until the yeast has dissolved
and is creamy.
Pour the remaining 2 cups water into a large bowl and add the shortening.
Add the yeast mixture along with 2 tablespoons sugar, the salt, and the
black pepper, if you’re using it, and stir with a wooden spoon to mix.
Stirring vigorously with the wooden spoon, add the flour, 1/2 cup at a
time, stopping when you have a soft, sticky dough that is difficult to stir.
(You will probably use almost 6 cups of flour, but the dough will still be
soft and sticky – and that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.) Turn the
dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes,
until it is smooth and elastic. Add additional flour as needed to keep
the dough from sticking to your hands and the work surface.
(To make the dough in a mixer, proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm
water in the mixer’s bowl. Fit the machine with the dough hook and add
the remaining 2 cups water, the sugar, shortening, salt, and the pepper, if
using it; mix on low to blend. With the machine still on low, gradually add
5 1/2 to 6 cups of the flour, mixing for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the ingred-
ients are blended. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead for
about 6 minutes, adding additional flour by the tablespoon until the dough
is smooth and elastic. At this point, the dough may still be slightly sticky
and it may not clean the sides and bottom of the bowl completely –
that’s OK.)

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the buttered mixing bowl.
Brush the top of the dough with a little melted butter, cover the bowl
with buttered plastic wrap, and top with a kitchen towel. Let the dough
rise at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until it doubles in bulk.

Chilling the dough
Deflate the dough, cover as before, and refrigerate for 4 hours, or, if it’s
more convenient, overnight. At this point, the dough can be well wrapped
and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
When you’re ready to make the bagels, position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. If the bagels are
to bake on a stone, preheat the baking stone too and generously dust a
peel with cornmeal. If they will bake on baking sheets, brush the sheets
with vegetable oil (or spray them) and dust them with cornmeal. For
added flavor, use one or all of the suggested topping ingredients [below]
in combination with the cornmeal to dust the peel or the sheets. (To
create steam in the oven, you’ll be tossing ice cubes and water onto the
oven floor. If you don’t think your oven floor is up to this – it can be
tricky with a gas oven – put a heavy skillet or roasting pan on the oven
floor and preheat it as well.)
While the oven preheats, fill a stockpot with water and bring the water
to a rapid boil.
Line 2 baking sheets or trays with kitchen towels. Rub flour into one of
the towels and place both sheets close to your work surface.

Shaping the Dough
Deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Divide
the dough in half; cover and chill one piece of the dough while you work
with the other. Cut the dough into 5 equal pieces; work with 1 piece at a
time and cover the remaining pieces with a towel.
To form a bagel and develop the gluten cloak that will give it its structure, draw up the dough from the bottom, stretch it, and pinch it at the top.
Keep pulling the dough up and pinching it until you have a perfectly
round, tightly packed ball of dough with a little topknot or pleat at the
top. Turn the dough over so that the knot is against the work surface
and plunge your index finger into the center of the dough. Wiggle your
finger around in the hole to stretch it, then lift the bagel, hook it over the thumb of one hand and the index finger of the other, and start rotating
the dough, circling your thumb and finger and elongating the hole to a
diameter of 2 to 2 1/2 inches. (At this point, the dough will look more like
a piece in a ringtoss game than a bagel, but it will soon boil to bagelhood.)
Put the bagel on the baking sheet with the floured towel, and cover with
another towel. Shape the remaining 4 pieces of dough into bagels. (You’ll
shape the refrigerated dough after you’ve completed boiling and baking
these bagels.)

The Water Bath

1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Add the sugar and baking soda to the boiling water. With a large slotted skimming spoon or slotted spatula, lower the bagels, one at a time, into the
boiling water. Don’t crowd them – the bagels should swim around in the
water without touching one another; it’s better to boil them in batches than
to cram them into the pot all at one time. The bagels will sink to the bottom
of the pot when you put them in, then rise to the top. Once the bagels have surfaced, boil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side, flipping then over gently with the skimmer. Remove the bagels, shaking the skimmer over the stock
pot to get rid of some of the excess water, and put them on the baking sheet with the unfloured towel, keeping the smoothest side of the bagel up. (Do
not discard the sugar water – you’ll use it again to boil the dough that is still
in the refrigerator.)
Keeping the smoothest sides up, transfer the bagels to the peel or prepared baking sheet. (Work quickly because the wet bagels have a tendency to
stick to the towel.)

The Glaze and Toppings

2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon cold water
Sesame, poppy, and/or caraway seeds;
kosher or sea salt; minced onions
sautéed in vegetable oil; and/or
dried garlic chips or dehydrated onions
softened in hot water (optional)

Whisk the egg whites and cold water together until the whites are broken
up, then push the glaze through a sieve and brush each bagel with the glaze. Try not to let the glaze drip onto the baking sheet or peel, or it will glue
down the bagels. Don’t worry if the bagels look wrinkled – they’ll smooth
out in the oven. Brush with another coat of glaze and, if you’re using a topping, or more than one, sprinkle it, or them, evenly over the bagels now.

Baking the Bagels
Put 4 ice cubes in a 1-pint measuring cup and add 1/4 cup cold water. Put
the bagels into the oven and immediately toss the ice cubes and water onto
the oven floor (or into the hot pan). Quickly close the oven door to capture
the steam produced by the ice, turn the oven temperature down to 450 degrees F, and bake the bagels for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven and let
the bagels remain in the oven for 5 more minutes. Open the oven door and leave the bagels in the oven for another 5 minutes. Transfer the bagels to a rack and cool. If you’ve used a baking stone, sweep the excess cornmeal
from the stone. Before baking the next batch of bagels, be certain to bring
the oven temperature back to 500 degrees F.
While the first batch of bagels is baking, cut and shape the remaining
dough. Boil, glaze, and bake these bagels just as you did the first batch.

Cooled bagels can be kept for 1 day in a paper bag. For longer storage, pack into airtight plastic bags and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw, still wrapped,
at room temperature.

Bagel Chips

Cut stale bagels into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Spread lightly with softened herb butter and sprinkle with coarse salt. Place on a wire rack set in a jelly-roll
pan and bake in a preheated 375-degree F oven until uniformly crisp and
golden brown. Start checking after10 minutes; remove any chips that are
crisp and keep baking the others. The chips will probably need about 15
minutes in the oven, but some slow-crispers might take up to 20 minutes.
Cool on a rack and store in an airtight tin.

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