I blame Ai for this, I really do. If you follow her blog, you'll have noticed that she has been baking some rather delicious looking bagels over the past couple of months. Her photos of her glossy, nicely-shaped bagels brought on a rather inexplicable bout of industry in my kitchen - I simply had to make some bagels for myself!
There are plenty of recipes out there in Googleworld, so I won't write one down here. My friend Deco Reco swears by Smitten Kitchen's recipe, which takes two or three days to prepare. I'm much to impatient for that, so I prefer to use this recipe from The Sophisticated Gourmet as a guideline for quantities and times, with the addition of a second proof after shaping the bagels.
The most fun part, I think, is the shaping. Some people roll the dough into little cylindrical tubes, then join the ends neatly together (like so). I prefer to roll it into a ball, then poke a flour-covered finger through the middle, and twirl it around my finger a few times to enlarge the hole (scroll down to about the middle). More fun than you imagine.
So far, I've made bagels with rye flour, with 'farmhouse' flour (with added grains and seeds), with plain white bread flour, with cranberries and walnuts, with caraway seeds, sesame seeds, sea salt, and even fancy grey sea salt. Whatever the flavour, they've all tasted wonderful fresh out of the oven, with butter melting through it. I also like them with some mascarpone and honey, for when I'm being all hedonistic. They've all been a lot chewier than the shop-bought versions, and you get the satisfaction of people looking all impressed and stuff when they find out you've made your own bagels. There's a good reason to make your own bagels if ever you needed one.