This recipe is heavily inspired by the New York Times no-knead bread recipe and has snuggled intimately with various bagel recipes on the Internets.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Clock time: 18-24 hours
Yield: 8 bagels
3 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oatmeal (plus more for dusting)
1/2 teaspoon instant dry bread yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons honey (optional; improves the crumb)
2 cups water, and just a smidge more
Corn meal, for dusting
Kosher salt and crushed anise seed (or other toppings, or none)
Mix the dry ingredients well in a large bowl. Add the water and mix, just enough to form a dough; do not knead. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. let it sit overnight, ideally at room temperature. In winter I stash the bowl in front of a heat vent.
After at least 18 hours, wash your hands well and remove the dough, laying it on a surface sprinkled with oatmeal. Fold it over on itself a couple times; really, that's it. You don't have to knead it.
Wrap it up in the plastic wrap you just used for the bowl and let rest for 15 minutes.
Put down a cotton towel or napkin and sprinkle it with oatmeal. Then wrap the towel around the dough.
Let the dough rise for 2 hours. Around the 1:45 mark, start preheating the oven to 450 degrees, and boil water in a large pot. Add the honey to the water and stir it in well. The honey greatly improves the crumb of the bagels.
Lay out the dough and cut into eight pieces. Pick up each piece, roll it out briefly between your hands and pinch the ends together to complete the ring. Don't worry if it doesn't look pretty! It just adds authenticity.
Dust a baking sheet liberally with cornmeal to prevent sticking. A non-stick baking sheet can't hurt. If you're out of cornmeal flour or oatmeal will do.
Boil three bagels at a time, until they float or for 20 seconds, but no longer. Remove bagels to the baking sheet. Don't put too many in at a time or the water will cool. Let the boil resume between batches.
Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and crushed anise seed, fennel seed or other toppings. The middle eastern place around the corner from my office just happens to carry crushed anise seed and I bought some on a whim. I am not as cool as I sound.
Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.
Fresh bagels are insanely great right out of the oven with your favorite fixins. They also freeze well. I usually eat one almost immediately, let the rest cool, then put three in a bag on the counter and four in a freezer bag.
I tend to alternate between this recipe and simply making bread, which can be done with the same ingredients, but you'll want to add another 1/8th cup of water or so. Bagels pick up extra moisture in the boil and need to be tough enough to resist.