Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes a dozen
For the Starter:
1/2 cup bread flour
1/4 cup cool water
pinch instant yeast
For the Dough:
4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups cool water
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
For the Water Bath: 1 tablespoon non-diastatic malt powder (could also use brown sugar)
To Prepare the Starter: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, water and yeast until well combined. Cover and set aside at room temperature to rest overnight.
To Prepare the Dough: Place all of the starter mixture in a large bowl – add flour, water, salt and yeast. Mix ingredients together, then scoop them out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and stiff, but not dry. Since you are using bread flour, this may take awhile if doing by hand – you could also use a stand mixer or bread machine.
Place the kneaded dough into a lightly greased large bowl – cover and set aside to rise for 1 hour. Gently deflate dough, then re-cover and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes.
Scoop dough out onto your work surface and divide it into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece into tight ball, then cover and allow dough to rest again for 30 minutes – the balls should only puff up slightly.
To Prepare Water Bath: While the dough balls are resting, add water and malt into a large (at least 10″) wide pan, then place over medium heat and bring water to a gentle boil.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Using a lightly floured finger, poke a hole into the center of each dough ball and gently enlarge the hole by twirling and working the dough around your finger until they are a uniform shape and the hole is about 2″ wide. Place bagels onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper and also sprayed with cooking spray.
Transfer the bagels, four at a time if possible, into the simmering water. If you find the temperature of the water decreases too much, increase the heat to bring the water back up to a gently simmering boil. Cook the bagels for 2 minutes, flip them over, and cook 1 minute more.
Using the end of a wooden spoon, remove the bagels from the water and place them back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
Place the pan into the oven and bake for 15 minutes – remove and spritz the top of the bagels with water and sprinkle each with sesame or poppy seeds, if desired (if you want plain bagels, skip this step and bake for about 25 minutes total). Place pan back into the oven and bake until they are as golden brown as you would like, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and transfer bagels to a wire rack to cool completely.