I have a confession to make: I've never eaten bagels before. Somehow these dense, naughty creatures have escaped me. Well, until now, that is. I'm not sure what triggered my curiosity; it's probably a toss-up between the exotically low hydration levels in the bagel dough, and the recent US presidential election. Anyways. I leafed through Hamelman's Bread, and found a bagel recipe that looked bulletproof. This is a dough with 58% hydration (I did have a hard time getting the dough together in one piece at first), that I let ferment in the fridge overnight, shaped in the morning, and then proof in the fridge while I was at work today. When I got home this afternoon, I put some malted barley syrup into a huge kettle of boiling water, and let these chewy monsters soak for about a minute (boy did they puff up...), before they were left to cool in ice water for a few more minutes. Onto a plate of sesame seeds and then onto a scorching hot baking stone.
As I said, I've never had these before, so I don't know how close I got to the genuine NY style bagel, but let me tell you that Hamelman's recipe is pure genius. To me, these were awesome. They had that famous chewy exterior, and really pleasant hints of malted barley (both in the dough itself and from the syrup in the boiling water). Sorry, no cream cheese, but they were covered with French brie, some vegetables, and a couple of Pick salami slices. A little piece of bagel heaven right there :-)