Sponge (4 to 12 hours before baking; do this before you go to bed if you want fresh bagels for breakfast or brunch, only takes a minute)
500 grams flour/18 ounces/ 3.5 cups
500 grams water/18 ounces/ 2 1/4 cups
3 grams active dry yeast/3/4 teaspoon
Combine the ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix with a spoon till the ingredients are combined. Set aside at room temperature for at least 4 hours. Do this before going to bed if you want fresh bagels in the morning.
18 grams kosher salt/.6 ounces/1 tablespoon
18 grams honey/1 scant tablespoon
18 grams malt syrup/1 tablespoon (you can substitute molasses if you wish)
446 grams flour/16 ounces/ 3 cups
Baking Soda (1/2 tablespoon for every 2 liters/1/2 gallon water)
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt or other garnish (optional but recommended
Add salt, honey, malt syrup, and flour to the sponge, the flour last. Attach dough hooks to your mixer and mix at low speed for 8-10 minutes. This is a stiff, bucky dough so don’t walk away from the mixer if it has a tendency to walk across your counter top. I’ve had more than one mixer hit the floor and it is distressing. (This can also be mixed by hand.)
Once the dough is mixed remove it to your counter and cover with a cloth to let it rest for 5-10 minutes. While the dough is resting place a wide, fairly deep pot filled with water on the stove to heat (measure the water so you know how much baking soda to use). When I boil I typically use a pan like a wok filled with water. Once the water comes to a simmer add the baking soda. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.
Divide the dough into 12-13 (4 oz) pieces. Round each piece and set aside to rest for a few more minutes, covered.
To shape take each ball of dough and flatten out slightly using the palm of the hand, making a disc approximately 3.5 inches wide. Make a hole in each using your thumb and place back on the counter, covered, to rise.
After 10 minutes flip each bagel over so the bottom is now facing up. When this side begins to get slightly puffy and rounded it is time to boil. This may take as little as 5 minutes, but depending on the temperature of your kitchen, how cold your countertop is, etc., it might take longer. When the bagel looks and feels a bit puffy, it’s ready to boil.
While your bagels are in their final rise bring your water to a simmer, then add the baking soda.
Drop the bagels 3-4 at a time into the simmering water (depending on how large your pot is). They should float immediately or within a few seconds. Let them simmer for one minute, then flip them over using a chopstick or spoon and let the other side simmer for one minute. Remove from the water using a skimmer or large spoon. I like to bake them on a half-sheet pan lined with parchment paper. They can also be baked on a pizza stone.
Sprinkle them with sesame, poppy seeds, salt or whatever you prefer immediately after removing them from the water, or alternately, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle after that.
Bake at 450 degrees F for 12-13 minutes or until golden brown.
On occasions that I have run out of malt I have substituted molasses and received excellent reviews. Some might consider it blasphemy, but really, who cares? My customers are much more pleased with overall flavor when I boil in an alkaline (water with baking soda) solution than when I boil in a sugar water solution.