Dunkin' Donuts, what can I say? It's been a while.
Look, let's cut to the chase. I know you don't even know my name. I'm the girl down the street. We chilled a few times over the summer when I needed a break, we grabbed coffee during my late nights studying this semester. We may have even hooked up at a lackluster work party. You know how it goes. I love those Munchkins.
I thought I'd be able to call you my coffee shop. I was entranced by your regional charm and ample selection of goods. But you had a lot going on. You're going places- I mean, who would have time for a commitment when you're busy opening 250 more retail locations throughout the US? I understand. So, you know, I played the field. I checked out the soulful neighborhood coffee shop, the rival Starbucks in the next town over. At the end of the day, though, sometimes a girl's got to do the job herself.These bagels blew my mind. I'll be back for your specialty sandwiches and doughnuts, but as far as bready breakfast is concerned, we're done. Don't call me until you're ready to settle down.

Peter Reinhart's Bagels (adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice)
Ingredients (makes six 4.5 oz bagels or ten 3 oz bagels)
Preparation time: 2-3 hours to prepare the bagels (best to start in the afternoon) and a rest in the fridge overnight
Cooking time: Fifteen minutes
For the sponge:
3/4 teaspoon of yeast
2 cups of flour
2 cups of water

For the dough:
1/4 teaspoon of yeast
1 3/4 cups of flour plus two tablespoons
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of corn or malt syrup

To finish:
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of corn or malt syrup
Cornmeal for dusting

1. Starting the afternoon or night before you want to bake the bagels, start by making your sponge. Combine the flour and yeast in a large bowl and slowly add the water until the mixture resembles a smooth pancake batter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit for one to two hours or until the mixture has doubled in size.
2. Incorporate your dough ingredients, starting with the yeast and flour and finishing with the salt and corn syrup at the end, mixing and kneading the dough until it is completely hydrated and no raw flour is left. Knead the dough until it is smooth and pliable but not sticky (about ten minutes) and all of the ingredients are incorporated into the ball.
3. Immediately begin dividing the dough into small balls of your desired weight or size. I weighed mine so that they would brown evenly but it's not necessary. Smooth the balls out and cover them with a damp paper towel. Let them sit for twenty minutes.
4. Once the balls have rested, start by shaping them into bagels. I used the "stretch and tear" method, where I poked a hole into the center of my bagels and stretched the dough around my finger to create a smooth, even thickness. But you can also use the "rope and loop" method. Take a piece of dough and roll it into an even tube like you would a clay snake. (I failed art class) Take the tube and fold it over two of your fingers, looping the two ends together and smoothing the bagel dough out. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
5. Grease a baking sheet and lay your bagels on it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let them sit for another twenty minutes. Once they have sat, fill a large bowl with cool tap water and perform the float test, where you will see if the bagels are ready to retard in the fridge over night. If a bagel floats on the surface for ten or more seconds, they are ready. Pat the wet bagel off with a paper towel and pop the pan on a flat surface in the fridge over night.
6. In the morning, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Start boiling some water in a large pot on the stove. Leave your bagels in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them. When the water is boiling, add the baking soda and corn syrup. Boiling the bagels is essential and will help prevent the bagels from spreading in the oven as well as create that chewy, thick crust that makes a bagel a bagel. Boil the bagels for one to two minutes, alternating sides halfway. The longer you boil your bagel, the thicker the crust and chewier the texture will be.
7. When all the bagels are boiled, spread your cornmeal out on your baking sheet and place your bagels on top. This is also the best time to add any toppings to your bagels, like poppy seeds, chopped onions, or garlic salt. The cornmeal will prevent the bagels from sticking. Bake for ten minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
8. Let the bagels cool for fifteen to twenty minutes, and then slice and toast or eat plain. Serve with salted butter or cream cheese and lox.

Salted Butter
Ingredients (makes 1/4 cup)
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt or fleur de sel
1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Spread and eat once melted.
These are so goddamned easy to make. It's the yeasty equivalent of "set it and forget it." Now, thank me for your New Year's Day breakfast.

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