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NY-Style Bagels

(Makes 8-9 bagels)
1-1/3 cups warm water (about 100 degrees F.)
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3-1/2 cups bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking soda, for boiling
Cornmeal for dusting on baking sheets
Egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water)

Combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir to combine. Allow to puff up, about 10 minutes. Then stir again.  Add the yeast mixture to a bowl with the flour and salt. Use your hands to combine. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth. Fold the dough under to form a ball then roll it around on the work surface to form a smooth ball. Drop the ball into an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rise 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface and divide into 8-9 pieces.  Form each piece into a ball by tucking the ends under and then rolling into a smooth ball on a unfloured surface. Place the dough balls on a baking sheet and cover with a damp towel for 15 to 20 minutes.

Press a floured thumb and index finger into each ball to form a hole then use your fingers to twirl it around to stretch and form a larger hole.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Drop 2-3 bagels at a time into the lightly boiling water for about 1 minute per side. Remove and place on a 2 baking sheets that are lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal.  Brush the bagels with egg wash and sprinkle on optional toppings.  Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
These are crispy bagels, just like from your favorite New York bakery, but baked in your own oven.  Traditional NY-style bagels are considered “water bagels”, because they are boiled before they are baked. This technique is used to set the exterior and give the bagels a crispy exterior and chewy quality.
Active Yeast has coarse granules that should be dissolved in a warm liquid to 'bloom' or activate and get foamy; adding a pinch of sugar with the yeast encourages the blooming process. This takes about 5 to 10 minutes.
Instant Yeast includes bread-machine, rapid-rise and quick rise yeast.  They're finer in texture and can be added directly to dry ingredients; no blooming is necessary.  Many promise a shorter rising time but that isn't necessarily a good thing because dough develops flavor and texture as it rises.
Difference between Active and Instant Yeast