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  1. To make the starter: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Combine the starter ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.

  2. To make the bagel dough: The next day, combine the starter with all of the dough ingredients and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to form a smooth, stiff but not dry dough. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and set aside to rise for 1 hour.

  3. Gently deflate the dough, and let it rise for another 30 minutes.

  4. Transfer the dough to an unfloured work surface and divide it into 12 pieces. Roll each into a smooth ball. Cover the balls with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 30 minutes. They'll puff up very slightly.

  5. While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath by heating the water and malt (or sugar) to a very gentle boil in a wide-diameter (about 10") pan.

  6. Preheat your oven to 425°F.

  7. To shape the bagels: Use your index finger to poke a hole through the center of each ball, then twirl the dough on your finger to stretch the hole until it's about 2 inches in diameter (the entire bagel will be about 3" across). Place each bagel on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

  8. To boil the bagels: Transfer the bagels, three to four at a time if possible, to the simmering water. Increase the heat under the pan to bring the water back up to a gently simmering boil, if necessary. Cook the bagels for 2 minutes, flip them over, and cook 1 minute more. Using a skimmer or strainer, or the end of a wooden spoon, remove the bagels from the water and place them back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.

  9. To bake the bagels: Bake the bagels for about 25 minutes, or until they're as deep brown as you like. To top with seeds, remove the bagels from the oven after about 15 minutes, spray with water, and sprinkle with the seeds. Return to the oven to finish baking.

  10. Remove the bagels from the oven, and cool completely on a rack.

  11. Store up to 5 days in a plastic bag. Freeze in a plastic bag for up to 3 months.

Tips from our Bakers

  • If you'd like to freeze them, slice them most of the way, then freeze. You won't need to wait for them to thaw before slicing and toasting.