Ok, we're certainly not New Yorkers but even we know that bagels here in San Diego leave a lot to be desired. They aren't so much bagels as they are bagel-shaped bread. They don't have the correct outer "skin", and they don't have enough chew when you bite into them.
So what are you supposed to do here when you are craving a good bagel? Make your own.
We used a recipe from Crust and Crumb by Peter Reinhart. You start with a loose, wet, poolish sponge that is slow fermented, then a lot of flour, plus a little more yeast, water and salt is added to create a rather dense dough. Five minutes of kneading in the stand mixer followed by five minutes on the board results in a smooth, satiny, fairly dry dough (and tired arms).
Forming bagel shapes is pretty easy: just make dinner-roll sized balls, let rest a minute, then stick your thumb through the middle and gently stretch. Done!
The bagels poof slightly after a couple hours at room temperature, but then it's important to put them in the fridge overnight to develop more flavor.
Next up, poach the dough in simmering water, a minute on each side. I'd always wondered why bagels get boiled, but now I know it's the real key to getting a chewy bagel with that characteristic shiny crust.
A quick dip in some sesame seeds is followed by a 14 minute bake.
The result - a very nice bagel indeed. We won't be a threat to the New York deli scene any time soon, but we've definitely found our best local option.