Unfortunately there is only one bagel shop in Jersey City and sometimes the thought of waiting in line kills the craving. So as crazy as this may sound, one weekend I decided to just make my own. I had heard from a colleague that it was pretty easy and in any event, it’s a good skill to have down in case I ever move from the area. So after doing a little bit of online research I decided on the following recipe, which is adapted from Emeril, of all people. I know its bizarre, the guy known for Cajun cooking. But many of the recipes require the dough to stay overnight and I REALLY wanted to have them that morning. It still took a few hours but they came out fabulous:
- 2 cups warm water, about 110 degrees F
- 2 (1/4-ounce) packets active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
- 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- poppy seed, sesame seed, or other toppings
Combine the water, yeast, and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl and let stand until foaming. Next, gradually mix in 4 cups of the flour and the salt. Add a cup of additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make the dough stiff. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes, adding just as much flour as needed (and not too much!). Grease a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until almost doubled, about 1 hour.
After the dough is done rising, remove from the bowl and punch it in the middle. Then divide into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a ball and roll into a log. Join the ends and place fingers through the hole and roll the ends together. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place on a lightly greased surface, cover with a clean cloth, and let rest until risen but not doubled in a draft-free spot, 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with the remaining teaspoon of oil or use a silpat liner (which I prefer).
In a large, heavy pot, bring 12 cups of water and the remaining tablespoon of sugar to a boil. In batches, add the bagels to the water and boil, turning, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Dip the bagel tops in your desired toppings. Flip bagels onto the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 5 minutes, turn over and cook for another 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.