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.
- Quick Glance
- 3 H
- 3 H, 50 M
- Makes 40
- 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
- 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.