Mix flour, salt, sugar, yeast, and any optional mix-ins together in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour the water into the center.Mixer: Connect the dough hook attachment, start the mixer on the slowest speed and give the dough a minute or two to incorporate, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.By hand: Pour the warm water into the well and use a wooden spoon or spatula to begin mixing, gradually incorporating more flour until the dough comes together.If the dough looks dry, add up to an additional ¼ cup water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing or kneading well between additions to give the water time to absorb. It’s a lot easier to add additional water to dry dough than it is to add flour to wet dough, and bagel dough is a low hydration dough so you definitely you don’t want it to be too sticky. Once the dough comes together into a shaggy mass, it's time to knead.Mixer: up the speed to low-medium and let the mixer run for 3-4 minutes, adding more flour if the dough appears to be sticking to the bowl. By hand: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gather it into a ball. Fold top of the dough down over on itself, rotating a quarter turn between each fold. Repeat for 8-10 minutes, incorporating as much flour as you can from the counter into the dough.You’re looking for a dough that is firm and stiff, smooth, and just slightly tacky to the touch. It shouldn’t stick to your hands or the bowl.
Shape the dough into a smooth round ball, and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Let it rise for an hour in a warm spot (70-72°F) until about doubled in size.
Gently punch the dough down, knocking the air bubbles out of it. Let it rest for 10 minutes. It’s been through a lot.
Preheat your oven to 425°F and fill a wide, deep pan or large pot (hell, even a wok if that’s all you’ve got) with at least 3 inches of water, and bring it to a low boil on the stove.
Divide the dough into eight equal pieces (use a kitchen scale for precision) and shape them into balls. Gently flatten the piece of dough against a lightly floured surface, then tuck the edges up into the middle, pinching them together to form a smooth surface on the underside of the dough. Then flip the dough over, cup your hand around it, pinkie against the counter, and drag your hand towards your body. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat as needed until you have a smooth taught surface on top and a seam underneath.
Starting with the first dough ball you shaped, coat your thumb in flour and poke it through the seam-side of the dough, pushing any extra edges into the middle. Slide your other thumb in and gently stretch the dough out until the hole in the middle is at least the same width as the sides. The hole will close as the dough rests and will close again as it boils and bakes, so don’t be stingy here.If you like a bigger hole in your bagel, stretch the dough out again before boiling.
Cover the shaped bagels with a damp paper towel or clean dish cloth and let them rest for 10 minutes. They, too, have been through a lot.
Gently drop your shaped bagels into the pot of boiling water, top-side down. Work in batches as needed. The bagels will expand as they boil so don’t crowd them. Boil bagels for 1-2 minutes per side. Boiling for 2 minutes per side results in a slightly chewier, airier bagel. Remove the shaped bagels from the water and put them on a parchment or silicone baking mat lined baking sheet.
Brush each bagel with egg wash making sure to get the sides and centers. Add any desired toppings.
When all the bagels have been boiled, egg washed, and topped, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake them for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove the bagels from the oven and transfer immediately to cool °on a wire rack. Try to wait at least 15-20 minutes before cutting them open, but I honestly can’t blame you if you crack after five.