Coming from a place where bagels are not readily available as fresh bakes in the local bakeries (and cost a crazy sum to keep one supplied), mum had a friend who would make mini bagels and share some with us every so often. When we moved to a different state, she shared her recipe. I'm told that these are New York-style bagels.
After much comparing across the board and tweaking the shared recipe, these bagels have kept my family and a select few friends very happy.
Pour sugar and yeast into 1/2 cup warm water. Do not stir. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, and then stir to dissolve sugar and yeast.
Mix sifted flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture.
Pour another 1/4 cup of water into the well. Mix and add more water as needed. You will want a moist but firm dough.
On a floured countertop, knead dough for about 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. Try working in as much of the flour as possible to form a firm dough.
Lightly brush a large bowl with oil, and turn the dough in the bowl to coat with the oil. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or till doubled in bulk. Punch down and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Carefully divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (16 if you want mini bagels). Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest for 10 minutes before shaping.
Form balls with the dough and stick index finger all the way through the middle. Using both your index and ring fingers, gently stretch the dough to form a doughnut-like shape, about 1/3 of the diameter of the bagel. Place each shaped bagel on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for another 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 220C/428F.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add molasses and baking soda. Reduce the heat. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, gently lower the bagels into the water, having only as many as would comfortably be able to fit without touching each other each round. Once the bagels float, allow to sit for a minute before flipping them over to boil for another minute. (If you like a chewier bagel, boil for 2 minutes on each side)
*Whisk egg whites and water together, then press through a fine mesh strainer. Brush onto each boiled bagel and coat with a second coat, then turn glazed side down onto any topping desired, or sprinkle the toppings on. Place bagels on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool before storing away.
*Note: It is best to glaze and top bagels while they are still hot from boiling. The glaze can be skipped if the bagels are not being topped.