3 ½cupshigh grade or plain flour(see recipe note 1)
In a small bowl, add yeast, sugar and ½ cup of the warm water. Whisk together and then let the mixture sit for 5 minutes until yeast is foamy.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and the remaining warm water into the bowl and stir to combine. Mix using the dough hook or a wooden spoon until the dough comes together in a ball.
Knead dough by hand on a lightly floured bench, adding more flour as needed until a firm but smooth and elastic dough forms, about 10 minutes. You could also knead it in a stand mixer but I found that the dough was quite stiff and the mixer had a bit of a hard time.
Shape the dough into ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with gladwrap or a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Once the dough is doubled in size, punch down and let it rest for 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball and then use your finger to poke a hole in the center of each ball and stretch it until the hole is as big as half the diameter of the bagel. It will look like a big hole but it will shrink when boiling and baking. Place bagels on a lightly greased or lined baking tray. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
While waiting, preheat the oven to 220°C/430°F and bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce heat to just below a simmer. Using a slotted spoon, lower a few bagels at a time into the water. Allow bagels to float to the top. Leave bagels in the water for 2 minutes, then flip over and leave in the water another 2 minutes. The longer the bagels stay in the water, the chewier they become. Remove the bagels with slotted spoon and return to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bagels.
If you are wanting to add toppings to the bagels, sprinkle them on top now. You can brush the bagels with milk or an egg wash first but this is not necessary, it just makes the bagels shinier once baked!
Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.
Bagels are best eaten within 2 days of baking but are still great toasted after that. They also freeze really well, I like to slice them before freezing in a snaplock bag or container.
I have made these with both high grade and all purpose flour and both worked fine however I did prefer the high grade flour. It made a much nicer dough to work with and rose a lot better. If using all purpose flour you will need 4-4 ½ cups of flour - not sure why but the dough seemed to be a lot stickier.