Homemade Bagels

Homemade Bagels Recipe

Bagels have become standard fare in coffee shops these days, filled with their traditional smoked salmon and cream cheese layers. And certainly a real bagel, with a firm, shiny crust and a luscious, chewy inside, is a super-tasty thing. Is it possible to replicate this magic at home? After many doughs and testings, I believe I’ve perfected not only a plain bagel, but also a caraway and rye version (see variation that follows the recipe) that’s delicious with cold meat, smoked fish, or a simple schmear of cream cheese. Try it. It’s worth the effort.–Ruth Joseph and Simon Round

LC No More Excuses Note

No more excuses about how there’s a dearth of decent bagels in your neighborhood, not when you can make better-than-decent bagels at home.

Homemade Bagels Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 3 H
  • 3 H, 50 M
  • Makes 40

Ingredients

  • For the dough
  • 7 cups bread flour, plus more for the work surface and the baking sheets
  • 2 cups self-rising whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bowl and plastic wrap
  • For the cooking liquid
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • For the topping
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Poppy seeds, finely chopped onion, or sesame seeds

Directions

  • Make the dough
  • 1. In a large bowl, combine the bread and whole wheat flours and whisk to blend well. In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the blended flour with the lukewarm water, yeast, and sugar and whisk until smooth, making sure all of the yeast has dissolved. Set aside in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes until fermented and foamy.
  • 2. Combine the remaining flour with the salt in the bowl of your stand mixer.
  • 3. Pour the oil into the fermented yeast mixture and beat with a fork until smooth. With the mixer running, add the yeast mixture to the flour in the bowl and mix until a soft, pliable dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a large oiled bowl, drape a piece of oiled plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel over the bowl, and set aside to rise in the fridge overnight.
  • 4. On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 40 pieces and shape them into balls. Then roll each ball of dough into a sausage shape and form into a bagel by overlapping the ends to form a ring, pressing the ends together so they stick. Allow a disproportionately large hole in the center so there is space for the bagels to rise (otherwise the hole will close). Transfer the bagels to 2 or 3 baking sheets lined with parchment paper and dusted with flour. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
  • 5. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).
  • Make the cooking liquid
  • 6. Bring a large, wide, deep pot of water to a boil. Add the molasses and whisk in the baking powder. Carefully drop the bagels—just 3 at a time—into the boiling water and simmer without budging them for 2 to 3 minutes. Then quickly flip the bagels over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them back on the parchment paper while you repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Make the toppings adhere to the bagels
  • 7. Once all of the bagels are cooked, lightly glaze them with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the onion or seeds. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown—and be proud! Transfer the bagels to a wire rack to cool completely.

Rye and Caraway Variation

  • Substitute 2 cups rye flour for the whole wheat flour. Use 4 tablespoons caraway seeds instead of onion or other seeds.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Larry Noak

Apr 11, 2013

I LOVE Bagels. I LOVE to make bagels. For me, one of the truly wonderful things about making bread, especially bagels, is the traditional ritual of kneading and resting the dough, letting it rise, shaping it, baking it, and finally eating it. It’s a very relaxing and therapeutic endeavor that anyone should find rewarding. This recipe calls for the standard method of boiling the shaped dough for a couple of minutes, but what I found interesting is the use of molasses and baking powder as opposed to the standard baking soda. This is a VERY good bagel. The crust became very shiny and almost crisp and the crumb was chewy, as a bagel should be. I found these to be much better when they were allowed to cool. I made this recipe twice. The second time I halved the recipe, which worked quite nicely.

Testers Choice
Sita Krishnaswamy

Apr 11, 2013

This was an elaborate recipe, but well worth the effort. The recipe produced 40 melt-in-your-mouth bagels. I used sesame and nigella seeds on my bagels. The recipe makes about 5 pounds of dough. I found that I needed a 1/4 cup more water while kneading the dough than what the recipe had specified. I rolled them into approximately 2-ounce balls and shaped them into bagels measuring 2 1/4 inches in diameter. I used a large Dutch oven and filled it with 12 cups of water and added 3 bagels at a time to boil. After about 20 bagels, I had to add at least 6 more cups of water to replenish. I then baked them for about 15 minutes. The first 3 bagels I boiled came undone and I ended up with crescent-shaped bagels. When you overlap the ends of the bagel, moisten your fingers and really press the ends together well.

Testers Choice
Colleen Bloxham

Apr 11, 2013

Bagels are such a wonderful thing to see on your counter and smell in your kitchen. Crisp on the outside, dense and firm on the inside, nothing else like them. The boiling and then the baking give them their unique quality that’s just perfect for smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onion, and capers (yes, that’s my favorite topping!). This recipe delivers. The whole wheat flour gives the resulting bagels just a little extra nuttiness, which I quite liked. I finished some with sesame seeds and the rest with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and garlic. My family thought they’d died and gone to bagel heaven. It’s quite simple, just a little time-consuming. The overnight rise makes for a simple beginning the next morning as long as you can remember to get going the night before. Waiting for that second rise in the morning can be a little tricky if your kitchen isn’t warm enough, so I make sure I turn on the 425 oven before I even remove the dough from the fridge—then that second rise gets a little extra kitchen help. Don’t cheat on the boiling time and don’t put more than 3 in your pan at a time, as the water temperature will drop too quickly. Other than that, these really are a treat. Go on, you know you want to!

Testers Choice
Sue Epstein

Apr 11, 2013

Too many bagel recipes make what’s more like a round roll with a hole in the middle rather than a real bagel. You won’t be disappointed with this recipe. These are very good bagels that are easy to make. I halved the recipe and got 18 bagels. Of course the number of bagels you get from the recipe will depend on the size you make them. The recipe works very well and the outcome was a bagel with a crisp crust and nice, chewy center.

Comments
Comments
  1. Any thoughts on adding a sourdough starter to this recipe or will it ruin the taste/texture?

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Suzefrisse, love the idea of a sourdough starter! One of our testers, Larry, has a couple of suggestions. Please see his comment below.

  2. Larry Noak says:

    I have added starter to other Bagel recipes. I would imagine that it would change the flavor but, after all, that is part of why we use a sourdough starter. You should not even have to add flour as it will right itself during the kneading process. Depending upon how active your starter is, the finished bagels may rise and be a bit fatter, but I assure you they will still be delicious.

  3. Larry, thanks for your reply. My starter is very active. I normally add a cup of starter to most bread recipes. Any thoughts on amount?

  4. Larry Noak says:

    I would probably replace the active dry yeast completely with a cup of your starter. If you find that they don’t rise enough for your taste, try adding a teaspoon the next time. I’m guessing if your starter is well maintained, that should be sufficient. I think bagels should be dense and chewy and should work nicely with a good starter. These bagels are very good and I bet you will make them again.

  5. Dough is in the fridge…going to bake tomorrow with wasabi sesame seed topping. Used 1 cup of Oregon Trail 1847 sourdough starter. Will be curious to test the flavor and texture.

  6. Larry Noak says:

    To clarify, You may wish to add a teaspoon of the dry yeast, if needed, along with your cup of starter. I’m guessing your starter will be sufficient.

  7. Roseanne Leto says:

    What is the purpose of using self-rising whole wheat flour? Obviously, you can use leavening and salt to make your own self-rising flour, but it is so odd to see this in a recipe using yeast. To say nothing of how difficult it would be to find self-rising whole wheat flour!

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Roseanne, you can certainly make your own self-rising flour. In this recipe, the chemical leavening just adds a little extra lift to dough.

  8. cait says:

    Any hints on making an asiago or “everything” bagel? Do I just add the stuff on top or can I do mix-ins?

  9. chowyunfood says:

    Hi Cait, when I make everything or seed bagels, as soon as I take the bagels from the pot of boiling I sprinkle them with the ingredients. That way the topping sticks without doing an egg wash, which will work as well. When I make a cinnamon raisin bagel, I add the raisins to the dough and then I brush the bagel just before baking with butter and shake a mixture of cinnamon and sugar over the top. Depending on your oven, you may need to make certain that the sugar doesn’t burn. (If it looks like it will burn, turn off the oven and leave the door open a bit so the bagels finish baking.) I think any dried fruits would work well in bagels, I have never tried blueberries but I say try anything that sounds good to you. Oh, and I would probably add the Asiago near the end of baking to keep it from melting and running on the pan. One of my favorite things about experimenting with breads is if you try something and it doesn’t work, all you have lost is a few cups of flour and a couple minutes of your time. More often than not, if it seems like it will work, it usually does.

  10. ruthie says:

    Bagel forming question:
    Growing up I’d always seen bagels formed (in bagel shops) by making a ball of dough, starting a hole in the middle with thumb and forefinger, then using both hands to spread the hole to maybe and inch or so in diameter.
    Lately I’ve been seeing this overlapped sausage method. Is this new? Seems like it would be hard to slice and fill without it tearing open at the join, plus the thickness of the sides is really uneven.
    PITA cranky bagel lovers want to know. ;)

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Ruthie, let’s have some of our experienced bagel makers weigh in on this question. Anyone?

      • chowyunfood says:

        My research tells me that the more traditional method is the over-lapping method. I have tried both but prefer the poke your finger and thumb method. After you make the hole put both index fingers through – one from either side and pull from the center a bit while winding like string.

        • Beth Price says:

          Thanks for the tip, Larry!

          • ruthie says:

            Well, the overlap looks nicely rustic, I will admit. ;) And is fine if you’re just eating a bagel, but for slicing, toasting, filling…I’ll stick to the expanded dimple method. Kind of makes me think of making pizza, stretching the dough to get the shape you want.

            Anyway, I’m going to give this recipe a try ’cause I often just eat a bagel, all by itself and I haven’t fallen in liove with any of theother bagel recipes I’ve tried.

            Thanks, Larry! And Beth for passing it along. ;)

  11. Glori Ortiz says:

    Excellent recipe! I still need to work on my shaping technique (next time I will work the seam better, some of them opened while simmering in water), but it is the best homemade bagel recipe I’ve tried! I added raisins and cinnamon to 1/4 of the dough. I also added cocoa powder and mini chocolate chips to another 1/4 of the dough. The rest of the dough I topped with sesame seeds! Yum! Thanks!

    Homemade Bagels

  12. I’ve never made bagels before but would like to give it a try. If I want these to be onion bagels, how much chopped onion should I use? Does it make a difference what type of onion is used? (Green Onion, Yellow, etc.)

    • Eric Noak says:

      Kathryn, I always use dehydrated onion from the spice aisle. You could use the dehydrated or maybe a green onion throughout, but I use them strictly as a topping.

  13. Karhryn says:

    Thanks Eric! I’ll give it a try.

  14. efn103189 says:

    My bagels filled out nicely when they were boiling but once I took them out of the water they deflated. Any ideas on why this happened? It happened to 90% of my bagels making them incredible dense.

  15. chowyunfood says:

    I prefer a dense bagel. Having said that, Was your self rising flour fresh?

  16. Alli says:

    Hi there, I just put the dough in to the fridge and was wondering if 24 hrs is the minimum refrigerator rise time for this recipe. (My kids want to finish them today and are staring me down.) has anyone tried divide- then rise- then shorter fridge time- then boil? I’m new to baking so I don’t know what difference this would make in the texture. I’m hoping for a Montreal bagel result :)
    Thanks!

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Alli, sorry that I’m just now seeing your question, hope you survived all those stares! At this point, the dough has risen overnight so you are good to go. The bagels do need to go through a cold fermentation process (that overnight rise in the fridge) in order for gases to form in the dough. It’s that gas that helps the bagels float in the cooking liquid. The minimum amount of time required for this is around 8 hours. Hope this helps.

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