Recipe ingredients and directions:

 6 cups (to 8c) bread (high-gluten) -- flour

4 tablespoons Dry baking yeast

6 tablespoons Granulated white sugar or -- light honey (clover

good)

2 teaspoons Salt

3 cups Hot water

A bit of vegetable oil

1 Gallon water

5 tablespoons Malt syrup or sugar

A few handfuls of cornmeal

Large mixing bowl

Wire whisk

Measuring cups and spoons

Wooden mixing spoon

Butter knife or baker's -- dough blade

Clean -- dry surface for

3 clean -- dry kitchen towels

Warm, but not hot -- place to

dough to rise

Large stockpot

Slotted spoon

2 baking sheets

First, pour three cups of hot water into the mixing bowl. The water should be

hot, but not so hot that you can't bear to put your fingers in it for several

seconds at a time. Add the sugar or honey and stir it with your fingers (a

good way to make sure the water is not too hot) or with a wire whisk to

dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water, and stir to

dissolve.

Wait about ten minutes for the yeast to begin to revive and grow.

This is known as "proofing" the yeast, which simply means that you're checking

to make sure your yeast is viable. Skipping this step could result in your

trying to make bagels with dead yeast, which results in bagels so hard and

potentially dangerous that they are banned under the terms of the Geneva

Convention. You will know that the yeast is okay if it begins to foam and

exude a sweetish, slightly beery smell.

At this point, add about three cups of flour as well as the 2 tsp of salt to

the water and yeast and begin mixing it in. Some people subscribe to the

theory that it is easier to tell what's going on with the dough if you use your

hands rather than a spoon to mix things into the dough, but others prefer the

less physically direct spoon. As an advocate of the bare-knuckles school of

baking, I proffer the following advice: clip your fingernails, take off your

rings and wristwatch, and wash your hands thoroughly to the elbows, like a

surgeon. Then you may dive into the dough with impunity. I generally use my

right hand to mix, so that my left is free to add flour and other ingredients

and to hold the bowl steady. Left-handed people might find that the reverse

works better for them. Having one hand clean and free to perform various tasks

works best.

When you have incorporated the first three cups of flour, the dough should

begin to become thick-ish. Add more flour, a half-cup or so at a time, and mix

each addition thoroughly before adding more flour.

As the dough gets thicker, add less and less flour at a time. Soon you will

begin to knead it by hand (if you're using your hands to mix the dough in the

first place, this segue is hardly noticeable). If you have a big enough and

shallow enough bowl, use it as the kneading bowl, otherwise use that clean,

dry, flat countertop or tabletop mentioned in the "Equipment" list above.

Sprinkle your work surface or bowl with a handful of flour, put your dough on

top, and start kneading. Add bits of flour if necessary to keep the dough from

sticking (to your hands, to the bowl or countertop, etc....). Soon you should

have a nice stiff dough. It will be quite elastic, but heavy and stiffer than a

normal bread dough. Do not make it too dry, however... it should still give

easily and stretch easily without tearing.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with one of your clean

kitchen towels, dampened somewhat by getting it wet and then wringing it out

thoroughly. If you swish the dough around in the bowl, you can get the whole

ball of dough covered with a very thin fil of oil, which will keep it from

drying out.

Place the bowl with the dough in it in a dry, warm (but not hot)pace, free from

drafts. Allow it to rise until doubled in volume. Some people try to

accelerate rising by putting the dough in the oven, where the pilot lights keep

the temperature slightly elevated. If it's cold in your kitchen, you can try

this, but remember to leave the oven door open or it may become too hot and

begin to kill the yeast and cook the dough. An ambient temperature of about 80

degrees Farenheit (25 centigrades) is ideal for rising dough.

While the dough is rising, fill your stockpot with about a gallon of water and

set it on the fire to boil. When it reaches a boil, add the malt syrup or

sugar and reduce the heat so that the water just barely simmers; the surface of

the water should hardly move.

Category: Bagels Recipes