I don't think anyone would argue that there are way too many catalogs circulated through the mail. My mailbox is too often burdened with glossy catalogs for clothing I'd never wear, computer equipment I'd never buy, and interesting overpriced gadgets I'd never use. But there is one catalog I not only asked for, but I welcome each time it appears in my mailbox.
The Baker's Catalogue from King Arthur Flour isn't just a way to shop for the company's flours, mixes, and tools. Scattered throughout the pages are recipes from the King Arthur test kitchens. It was in one of these catalogs that I found the recipe for these Simple Bagels. Never having made bagels before, the word "Simple" in the title hooked me, and I decided the time had come to get to know the process of making a water bagel.
Rather than type out the complete recipe here, I'll refer you directly to the King Arthur site, which has a printable version.
- I did not have non-diastatic malt powder, so I used brown sugar in the boiling water. Speaking of which, the water should be at a very, very gentle boil - more of an enthusisatic simmer. I used my electric skillet to boil the bagels in, which worked great.
- I made three varieties of bagel: plain, poppy, and salt. To help the toppings adhere better, I brushed the bagels (after 15 minutes of baking, per the recipe) with a mixture of 1 egg white and 1 teaspoon of cold water, whisked together with a fork.
- I made these before I got my stand mixer, so the toughest part of the whole process was kneading the dough. Fortunately, my soux chef was on duty, and if you are without benefit of a reliable mechanical mixer, I highly recommend recruiting the assistance of a willing and able-bodied offspring. Bribing with the first pick of warm bagels is optional but effective - possibly essential (this is a pretty stiff dough).
- Remember to leave plenty of time for this recipe - there's not a lot of hands-on labor, but the starter needs to ferment overnight, and there are three separate proofing stages.