Bagel - step 2: shape Bagels

Bagels - Introduction
Source: The Best Bagels are made at home by Dona Z. Meilach - Order the Book

Prepare baking sheets by lightly greasing them with nonstick vegetable spray, or oil with a little vegetable oil spread with your fingertips or waxed paper.

Reach into the bread machine pan and pull dough out (if it is slightly sticky, dip your fingers into flour first.) Some machines punch dough down automatically at the end of the rise cycle, and just the act of removing the dough from the pan is usually adequate to remove gases, but you may need to punch dough down to remove any remaining air. Or, remove dough from bowl or food processor bowl and punch down.

Knead dough once or twice and let it rest for 5 minutes. If the dough is still a little too wet and sticky, lightly flour the bread board or your hands and knead the dough manually, until it has a smooth, elastic consistency. Bagel dough should be stiff but elastic; if it's too stiff, sprinkle a little water on it or moisten your hands and knead the moisture into dough. After you've made one or two batches of bagels, you'll get the feeling of the ideal consistency.

Roll and pull dough into a rectangle about 10x14" for a 1-pound recipe and 14x18" for a 1 1/2-pound recipe, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with dried fruits, nuts, vegetables, seeds, spices, chocolate, or any combination of flavorings. Roll dough into a log and knead the ingredients into the dough for a minute or so.

The dough should weigh a little more than the size recipe you are using. Divide dough into pieces depending on the size bagel you want. A 1 1/2-pound recipe yields 8 to 12 finished bagels, each weighing 2 to 3 ounces, measuring about 4 inches across. Use a food scale if you want consistency, or measure with a ruler. Cut smaller pieces for mini bagels. Knead in added ingredients well before shaping each bagel. You can also divide dough and add different ingredients to each part so you get a varied batch of bagels from one recipe.

Shape using any of the following methods:

HOLE IN THE MIDDLE METHOD: Roll each piece of dough into a ball, poke a floured finger through the center to form the hole, and then shape top and smooth sides. Moisten your finger with water, if necessary to smooth. Pull gently to enlarge hole. The resulting bagel is smooth and there is no joint.

OR, press the round on your floured board. Using the index fingers of both hands, poke a hole an pull dough until the hole is large, and then round out the bagel and smooth the top and edges.

THE HULA HOOP AROUND THE FINGER METHOD: Create a circle without a joint by flattening a ball of dough slightly into a round shape, folding the bottom edge under and smoothing it until it looks like a mushroom top. With a floured index finger, make a hole in the center of the circle from the bottom up. Twirl the circle around your index finger, or two fingers, like a hula-hoop, to widen the hole. Pull out and shape the round.

THE ROPE METHOD: Roll each piece of dough into a rope by rolling it on the bread board or between your hands. Wrap the rope around four fingers, overlap and join the ends, and turn the circle inside out. Until you get this hand movement down pat, you may have to moisten the ends to hold them together. Initially the length may be lumpy and the joint will show. It takes practice.

OR, roll dough into 30" lengths, cut each length into thirds (each 10" long) and join the ends. If you become proficient at this hand-made method, make 10" marks on the edge of your bread board so your bagels will be a consistent size.

BAGEL CUTTER METHOD: Roll dough out to a flat shape about 1/2" thick. Cut with a bagel cutter and smooth the tops over the sides so they're rounded, using a little water on your fingers to smooth, if necessary. Knead scraps again, reroll and cut into as many more bagels as there is dough. If you don't have a bagel cutter, use a wide champagne glass to cut out the outside. Cut the inside hole with the edge of a cordial glass or the small end of a measuring jigger. Any leftover dough can be rolled into two strips and made into a bagel twist (separate recipe), sealing ends with a dab of water so they don't untwist while boiling and baking.

Place shaped bagels on the greased baking sheet for the second rise, spacing them at least an inch apart to allow for the second rise.
Proceed to Step 3: Second Rise.

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