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Turn the risen dough out into a lightly floured counter. Cut into 12 even pieces, then shape each piece into a ball by pulling the raw edges toward the center, pinching them closed, then firmly rolling the dough on a clean, unfloured surface using the cup of your hand.
To shape the bagels, poke a hole through the center of each ball, then use your fingers to gently pull and rotate the dough until you have a hole about 2 inches across. Make the hole larger than you think you should, because the dough will spring back and swell while poaching and baking.
Cover the shaped bagels with a cloth and let rise until a bit puffy, about 15 minutes.
While the bagels are resting, heat 4 quarts (16 cups) water in a large pot. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place racks in the bottom and upper third. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and mist with cooking spray. Or, oil baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal.
When the water boils, reduce to a simmer and stir in baking soda.
Gently lower 3 bagels, top side down, into the simmering water, leaving enough room for them to float around. (They will sink first, then rise.) Poach for a minute, then flip over and let poach for another minute. Remove bagels with a slotted spoon and place on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with 3 more bagels.
Brush beaten egg white over each bagel, taking care not to let it drip onto the paper. If desired, coat with toppings such as sesame or poppy seeds, grated cheese, sautéed garlic or onion, etc.
Place pan on lower rack and bake for 10 minutes. While the first pan is baking, repeat the poaching process with the remaining bagels.
When the first pan has baked for 10 minutes, move it to the upper rack and place the second pan on the lower rack.
Continue baking for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the first bagels are golden brown. Move the second pan to the top rack for its remaining 8 to 10 minutes.
Cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 260 Fat 1 g Sodium 450 mg
Carbohydrates 53 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 13 mg
Protein 9 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 2 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 ½ bread/starch.