This recipe makes about 12 large, 16 medium, or 20 small. I made a couple of different sizes, and all worked well. I do need to work on my shaping, but hey, they taste fantastic and that's what matters!
For the sponge:
1 tsp instant yeast
4 cups unbleached bread flour (or your favorite GF flour, like mine)
2 ½ cup water, at room temperature
For the dough:
½ tsp instant yeast
3 ¾ cups unbleached bread flour
2 ¾ tsp salt
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 Tbs baking soda
Cornmeal, for dusting
Desired toppings (Cinnamon Sugar=1 tsp cinnamon & 2 tsp white sugar, Everything=1 Tbs each sesame seeds/dried minced onion & 1 tsp each garlic powder/sea salt, Shredded Cheese, etc)
***I highly recommend looking at the original recipe for lots of pictures and tips all the way through. I made a few modifications, but it is the same basic recipe***
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the counter.
To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl, add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and brown sugar. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook of an electric mixer) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough. I can't always get all the remaining flour in. That's ok!
Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes with the mixer). The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated. If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
Immediately divide the dough into 4 ½ ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for about 20 minutes.
Line two sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Proceed with shaping the bagels by pushing a hole through the center and stretching out the hole. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pan (or not!). Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. If it works with one bagel, you are good to go. Return it to the pan, pat it dry, and cover. If not, cover and wait another 10 minutes to try a different bagel. Now put them in the fridge over night, or up to 2 days.
The following day, preheat the oven to 500° F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby. Have your toppings ready.
Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds).
After 1 minute flip them over and boil another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side.
While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal. If you want to top the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water.
When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180˚ rotation. After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450° F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown.
Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.