A staple of some cities' cuisines and a luxury in others, bagels are a hearty bread option that can be enjoyed for any meal of the day. Not only that, but they're very flexible as far as what toppings they can hold and what can go between two sliced bagel halves! Instead of indulging in expensive (albeit delicious) store-bought ones, make your own bagels and cater them all to your tastes without paying extra for delicious toppings!
You'll need to get started with a basic bagel recipe, no matter what you decide to flavor them with. Mix together two cups of warm water with two 1/4 oz packages of active dry yeast and three tablespoons of sugar and let them sit until foamy. (You can do this in an upright mixer, if you own one, or by hand.) Gradually mix in four cups of all-purpose flour and two teaspoons of salt, then add up to 1 1/2 more cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is stiff. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, then cover and let rise in a greased bowl for one hour. Punch down the dough and divide it into twelve pieces, form each into a ball, and roll the balls into four- to six-inch logs, which you should then make into a loop with the ends rolled together. Let rise 20 to 30 minutes until poofy; preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, grease a baking sheet with vegetable oil, and bring 12 cups of water and one tablespoon of sugar to a boil in a large pot. Drop the bagels in one at a time, turning after 30 seconds and removing after a minute with a slotted spoon. Once all the bagels have been boiled, bake them for five minutes on one side, then flip them and bake for 30-35 more. Let cool and store in a dry place.
You can do just about anything with this basic bagel recipe! You can use some whole wheat flour in place of white (or all whole wheat, if you prefer your bagels pretty dense), or you can add some herbs and spices to the mix for some subtle flavoring. Alternatively, add some toppings: sauté garlic until lightly browned, or do the same with onion bits, caramelizing them until they are sweet and full of flavor.
The more adventurous bagel-makers can embed olive or jalapeño pieces into their baked goods. Or, if you are looking for something you can eat with breakfast, add raisins or other dried fruit during the kneading process, or embed fresh or defrosted frozen fruit on top before you cook them.
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