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Test Kitchen tips: Homemade bagels

March 9, 2012 | 10:00 am

Making bagels

Peter Reinhart did a great bagel story for Food in 2008, sharing the secrets about what makes a great bagel -- and how easy they are to make at home:

What I am about to explain could get me barred from the Lincoln and Holland tunnels or any other routes into Manhattan. But as a baker who loves bagels and all the things that can go on them, I am duty-bound to dispel urban legends and to tell you that anyone can make great bagels at home, no matter where you live.

In fact, after making these at home, if you do happen to be on Manhattan's Upper West Side and decide to stop in at H&H for old time's sake to pick up a bagel or six, I think you will discover that your memory of their singular greatness is only in your mind.

Here's one of the secrets: It is not about the water, it is all about long, slow, cold fermentation. Knowing this one fact could change your baking life forever.

Bagels are about the simplest of all breads to make. A little flour, water, salt, yeast and barley malt syrup (or honey) is all it takes. The secret ingredient is time. Any decent bagel shop knows this and uses an overnight method to stretch out the fermentation, allowing chemical and biological processes to work on the dough for at least 12 hours, releasing all sorts of subtle flavors trapped in the flour.

Check out the story, then grab some lox and schmear and give these bagels a try. The recipe makes a perfect weekend project! We also include a step-by-step photo gallery on forming, poaching and baking the bagels.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

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-- Noelle Carter
twitter.com/noellecarter

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

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