Bagels are twice-cooked, as they are boiled and then baked. Boiling gives them the dense, chewy texture for which they are so famous and 'sets' the crust, so they won't rise much in the oven. The bicarbonate of soda encourages browning during baking and contributes to their unique flavour.
5 g ( 1/8 oz/1½ teaspoons) dried yeast
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) room-temperature water
750 g (1 lb 10 oz/5 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, approximately
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) warm water
1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
90 g (3¼ oz/¼ cup) malt extract
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 egg , whisked with 1 tablespoon water
Poppy and sesame seeds, for sprinkling
1. Put the yeast, room-temperature water and 375 g (13 oz/2½ cups) of the flour in a bowl and use a fork to stir until a coarse dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface and knead for 4-5 minutes, until a smooth dough forms. Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl, turning to coat in the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2. Use a large sharp knife to cut the dough into 7 or 8 pieces and place in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the warm water, oil, malt extract, salt and 335 g (11¾ oz/2¼ cups) of the remaining flour. Use the dough hook attachment to knead on low speed for 10-15 minutes or until the dough is smooth and very elastic and comes away from the side of the bowl. The dough should be a little soft.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 1½-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Knock back the dough with just one punch to expel the air, then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 10 equal portions. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Lightly grease 2 baking trays with oil.
5. Place 8-10 cm (3¼-4 inches) of water in a large, deep frying pan or shallow saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the bicarbonate of soda. Meanwhile, working with one portion of dough at a time, shape it into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Push your finger through the middle of the ball to form a hole, then pick it up and work it in your hands to enlarge the hole and form a ring around it, about 10-12 cm (4-4½ inches) in diameter.
6. Cook the bagels, in batches, in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then turn and boil for a further 90 seconds. Turn again, then use a slotted spoon to remove from the water and drain well. Transfer to the greased trays. Brush the bagels with the egg wash, then sprinkle with the poppy or sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes, swapping the trays halfway through cooking, or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.