I really miss east coast bagels and have pretty much given up on California bagel facsimiles. So yesterday it was fun to make a batch of easy and spectacular bagels. I followed the recipe in the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion cookbook, here modified slightly and in my own words:
In the mixer work bowl combine:
1 tablespoon instant yeast
19 ounces bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar (barley malt is even better)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
Mix to combine and then have the mixer knead for 10 minutes (important). If the dough is pooling at the bottom of the work bowl and seems too wet, add up to 1/4 cup extra flour -- it's ok for the dough to be wettish, but most of it should be stuck to the dough hook rather than sitting on the bottom of the bowl. Then plop the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let rise 1 1/2 hours.
Remove to work area and with a knife or board scraper, divide the dough into 8 pieces. The cookbook recommends forming each piece into a ball and then poking a hole in the middle to make each a bagel, but I do it the old school bagel bakery way: form each piece into a snake, then loop it around your hand and squeeze into a circle. Repeat until you have 8 bagels. Place bagels on a piece of parchment and cover with plastic. Let rest 30 minutes.
Preheat over to 425 degrees.
In the last 15 minutes of rise, pour 2 quarts of water into a large wide pot. Add 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or barley malt) and 1 teaspoon sugar, then heat until water is steadily simmering. Drop 2-4 bagels at a time into the water (you may need to gently reshape them as they go in). Let simmer for 2 minutes, flip, then simmer 1 minute more. Remove with slotted spoon to a dish towel and repeat with the remaining bagels.
Place bagels on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, turning after 12 minutes, until bagels are golden brown.
Makes 8 delicious bagels.