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Homemade Bagels

Monday, June 24, 2013

Recipe adopted from Annie's Eats.  [Recipe makes 12 bagels].
In my opinion, a good quality, soft yet chewy bagel fresh from the oven is something that your standard grocery store bagel doesn't even come close to matching.  Now I realize this is an obvious statement, as homemade always wins, but I think there's so much of a gap between the two that they shouldn't even be in the same category.  Due to my love of homemade bagels, I knew I had to hunt down the best recipe and master it.  After countless attempts and alterations, I finally believe I've got it down.  Although I have specifics written out below, the key pointers for this recipe are as follows:

  1. Use a food scale to measure out the amount of bread flour needed.  As is true with any type of baking, a cup of flour measured out by yourself is going to weigh a different amount than a cup of flour measured by someone else.
  2. Use your thumb and middle finger to produce the bagel hole rather than rolling each ball of dough into a log and attempting to seal the ends.  This ensures that the bagel keeps its shape during and after the boiling process.
  3. To prevent your bagels from losing their shape before going into the oven, (1) make sure that your raw bagels rest on a lightly greased sheet of parchment for easy release and (2) make sure that you transfer your bagels to the oven ASAP after they take a quick bath in the boiling water.

Lastly, you may have noticed that the directions below are longer than most posts, but don't let this discourage you from trying out the recipe.  The only reason for its length is that I have included any and all tips that I've picked up from countless trials that I think will be of help.  After you have a good idea of what's going on from your first go, you won't need half of the steps for the next time as you'll be a bagel expert by this point.


1 teaspoon instant yeast
18 ounces (~3 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) bread flour
20 ounces (~2 1/2 cups) water, warmed

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
17 ounces (~3 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) bread flour
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon malt syrup

1/2 cup corn meal (for bottom dusting)

1 tablespoon baking soda (for boiling pot of water)

Everything Topping (optional):
4 teaspoons poppy seeds
4 teaspoons sesame seeds
4 teaspoons dried minced garlic
4 teaspoons dried minced onion
2 teaspoons kosher salt


Begin by adding the warm water, yeast, and bread flour to a stand mixer bowl.  Using a paddle attachment, mix for one minute until uniform.  Scrape off the paddle, remove the bowl from the mixer, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rest in a warm area for 2 hours.

After the 2 hours are up, your dough should have risen and become extremely bubbly.  If this is the case, proceed by adding the additional yeast and half of the bread flour.  Use a dough hook on a low speed to incorporate the flour.  Add the salt, malt syrup, and the remaining flour.  Knead on medium speed for 5 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a cutting board and divide into 12 equal portions.  [Side note:  For those who have a food scale in your kitchen, you'll probably aim for 4.6 ounce portions assuming you have just over 55 ounces of dough to begin with].

Line a sheet pan with a lightly greased baking mat or a sheet of parchment paper.  Briefly knead each portion of dough and then shape into a uniform ball using whatever technique works best for you.  Transfer your 12 balls of dough to your sheet pan and cover with a damp towel.  Let rest for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, pinch each dough ball in the center with your thumb and middle finger and make a hole.  To get the proper bagel size, put your index finger in the bagel hole and spin the bagel around your finger several times.  Place back on the greased sheet pan, lightly spray the tops of the bagels with a non-stick spray, and re-cover with a damp towel.  Let rest for another 20 minutes.

During this final resting period, get a large pot of water boiling, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, and preheat the oven to 475° F.  Also, have two cooling racks available.   When the 20 minutes are up, your water is boiling, and your oven is preheated, add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to the boiling water.

Gently remove three bagels from your sheet pan and transfer to the boiling water.  After one minute, flip the bagels and let boil for an additional minute.  Using a fine mesh strainer, remove the bagels individually, let any water drain, and transfer to an additional sheet pan.  Repeat this boiling process with three more bagels.  During this time, dip the bottoms of your first three bagels in some corn meal and transfer to a sheet pan lined with a greased sheet of parchment paper or a baking mat.  [Side note:  If you're using a topping for your bagels, this would be the time to top them].  When your first six bagels are set, transfer to the oven and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, or until they're to your desired color.

Halfway through the baking process, start boiling and coating your remaining six bagels so that they're ready to bake once your first six bagels come out of the oven.

Transfer baked bagels to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.  [Side note:  Like most yeast breads, these bagels freeze great.  Just let them come to room temperature, transfer to a freezer zip-lock bag, and freeze.  Defrost using the defrost setting in the microwave or by setting out to room temperature for an hour, and re-crisp in a warm oven for several minutes].

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  1. OOO, those look really good. Thanks for including the recipe for the "everything" topping too, that stuff is so tasty :) I've made bagels before, but never everything bagels, I'll have to try these soon!

    1. For sure! Let me know how they turn out :)

  2. We have been buying einstein's that has a load of ingredients including HFCS. I want to make my own. Have you made asiago topped or another cheese variety?

    1. That's the beauty of making your own - no preservatives or unhealthy additives needed :) I've made Parmesan bagels before with good results (which would be very similar to Asiago), and then in the near future, I'm going to give cheddar bagels a try. Best of luck!