WHEN MY PAL Mike — a real Mercer Island mensch — invited me to his house for bagels and lox, then showed me how to prepare his quick-and-easy bagel recipe, I managed to pull my jaw off my chest long enough to say, “That’s it. I’m never buying bagels again!”
Now it’s your turn to learn what he taught me, so the next time someone asks you who makes the best bagels in town, you can proudly answer “I do!”
If you’re thinking “Yeast? Scary. And besides, who has time to bake?” trust me, this is easy. Mike proved, and I promise, that any cook with access to a stand mixer can mix, rest, roll, boil and bake a stellar batch of bagels in just over an hour.
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I’ve since made dozens of bagels, testing the recipe with a variety of bread flours, including supermarket brands such as Gold Medal, expensive mail-ordered King Arthur “Sir Lancelot” and Mike’s favorite, Pendleton Flour Mills high-gluten “Power” flour, sold from the bulk bin at Big John’s PFI (bigjohnspfiseattle.com) or, if you can find one, in a bargain-priced, 25-pound sack (I scored mine at Lynnwood’s Business Costco for $10).
Every batch was a hit fresh from the oven, or toasted a day later — if they lasted that long.
Nancy’s make ’em quick bagels
Yields 1 dozen
3 2/3 cups (550 grams) bread flour
2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable or corn oil
10 ounces warm water (110 degrees)
2 tablespoons baking soda (for boiling the bagels)
Optional garnish: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc.
To prepare the dough
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and oil. Turn the mixer onto its lowest speed, then drizzle only 10 ounces of the warm water down the side of the bowl.
Watch until the water is completely incorporated, using an additional 2 ounces of water only if you need it to create a “clean” bowl. The dough will climb the hook.
2. Kick the mixer up to its next speed and continue to mix for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and bring a large pot of water and the 2 tablespoons baking soda to a boil.
3. Remove the hook, shape the dough into a ball and put it back into the bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let dough rise for 15 minutes.
To shape the bagels
1. Once the dough has risen, knead it on an unfloured board, then roll the dough — which should feel springy to your touch — into a 16-inch log. Cut into 12 equal pieces.
2. One by one, roll each into a 10-inch “snake” then form a bagel by overlapping the ends by an inch or two, putting three or four fingers through the hole and gently rolling the overlap to create a circle.
To boil and bake
1. Boil the bagels in three batches (of four each). They should float immediately. Boil for 15 seconds, flip and boil for another 15 seconds (30 seconds total). Using a large perforated ladle or wire skimmer, remove to a wire cooling rack to briefly “drip dry.” Sprinkle your garnish (if using) on the bagels while they’re still wet.
2. Place bagels on a parchment-covered baking sheet and bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool before slicing.
Reach Nancy Leson at email@example.com. John Lok is a Times staff photographer.