Homemade Bagels

Let’s talk about something evil. It is Halloween after all. Let’s talk carbs. Ahhh. . evil, delicious carbs. I can’t think of much else that is more drool inducing than biting into fresh baked bread. . or chewy fresh bagels!

Bagels have been on my “TO BAKE” list for a looooong time.  So last sunday as I sat curled up on my couch with a stack of my most recent food mags, (bored to death with the football game my husband was watching)  a recipe for bagels caught my eye. I got up and went in the kitchen and started making them right then. (Yes, I sometimes just randomly run to the kitchen to bake something out of the blue.) However, I discover that my yeast was dead. . I proofed it for 5 minutes and nothing happened. But. . .I told myself maybe it had just been such a long time since I used yeast I had forgotten what it should look like . . . so I made them anyway. (You know when your instincts tell you it’s a lost cause and waste of time but you REALLY want bagels so you try anyway? No? Just me, huh?)  Uhhhh. . . yea, the dough didn’t rise. . the bagels sunk when I boiled them and after they baked they tasted ok but were so dense I could have used them as weapons. Such a disappointment.

Not to worry. . . I bought more yeast the next day and tried again.


Needless to say that fresh yeast made a huge difference! Go figure. And the first batch I made that day came out perfect and delicious. I could have eaten all 12. In all honesty, I did eat several, and so did  Tim (my lovely husband). . .so many that I had to make a couple more batches in order to have enough to bring to my friends house to share with her and her family.

The recipe I used was from the November 2011 issue of Cooking Light Magazine. Bagels have to be boiled first and then baked to get that chewy texture. It sounds like a lot of work but trust me, it is so worth it. And a bit of tinkering in the kitchen is really relaxing to me. I could spend all day baking and cooking with no complaints. . and often do. And this boring Sunday was a great excuse to bake.

I used unbleached Trader Joe's flour

The dough is pretty basic. Water, yeast, flour, salt. You proof your yeast and then add your flour and salt with the yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. I used my KitchenAid fitted with a dough hook. Let your stand mixer knead the dough about 6 minutes. Then place the dough bowl into a bowl sprayed with nonstick spray and cover with a clean towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft free place for 30 minutes. (85 degrees)

Dough chunks

After the dough rises turn it out onto a clean surface and cut into 12 chunks. Roll each dough chunk into a ball. Poke a hole in the center of each ball and gently stretch and pull the dough until it looks like a bagel. Place all 12 bagels on a tray and cover with the towel again. In the meantime, bring 12 cups of water and 3/4 water to boil on the stove and preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Boil and bubble!

Working with a few bagels at a time, boil them for 30 seconds and then remove to a rack to drain. I just used tongs to gently pull them back out of the water and place on the rack. The dough should float when you put it in the water. If it doesn’t it mean your dough did not rise and your yeast isn’t active/alive. . .that’s what happen to me on the first try. . they sunk like stones. Sad.  While the bagels are still wet  you should sprinkle whatever topping you like on them . I used poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and a sort of everything mixture I like.

Looks good already!

Boiled, ‘everything’ topped and ready to bake.

Homemade ‘everything’ topping. This stuff is good on . . .well, just about everything, actually. I use it on bread, on grilled chicken, sprinkled on roasted veggies, etc.

Almost ready to eat

After you have boiled and topped all 12 of your bagels, place them 6 to a baking sheet. I use parchment paper or a Silpat to make sure they don’t stick to the tray. Bake at 450 degrees for 7 minutes and then rotate your trays and bake an additional 7 minutes. Remove trays and put bagels on a rack to cool.

Now try and let them cool a bit before biting into a warm, chewy fresh bagel. They are wonderful toasted and slathered in cream cheese or topped with whatever you like. You could do like I did and cover it with hummus and a Laughing Cow swiss cheese wedge. YUM!


(Modified from Cooking Light Magazine, Nov 2011)

2 cups warm water (100 to 120 degrees)

1 tsp active dry yeast

1 3/4 lbs all purpose flour (could use bread flour)

2 tsp kosher salt

12 cups water

3/4 cup sugar

Add the yeast to the warm water and let it sit for 5 minutes. The yeast should foam up or ‘proof’.

Measure flour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the salt. After your yeast is proofed, pour it in with the flour and salt. With a bread hook on your mixer, let the mixture knead in the bowl for 6 minutes. It will come together and for a pliable ball of dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Place dough ball into a bowl sprayed with nonstick spray. Turn dough to coat. Cover with a clean cloth and place in a warm (85 degrees) draft free place and let rise 30 minutes. After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a clean surface and divide it into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and poke a hole in the center. Stretch the hole until the dough looks like a bagel. Place the 12 bagels onto a baking sheet and cover with the towel again. Let rise 10 minutes. They won’t rise much.

In the meantime, bring water and sugar to a boil and preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

After the bagels have rested for 10 minutes, work in batches of 3 and boil for 30 seconds. Remove to a rack. Sprinkle with whatever topping you wish while they are still damp. Afer all 12 are boiled, divide onto 2 baking trays. Bake for 7 minutes and rotate your trays. Bake for an additional 7 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. (Most ovens have hot spots so it is always a good idea to rotate anything you are baking halfway through the recommended bake time.)

The ‘everything’ topping I used is very easy and versatile. You can modify the ingredients based on what you like or have on hand. I have even made up batches of this to put  in cute little containers and given it as gifts to foodie friends.

Everything Seed Mix

 1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 Tbsp poppy seeds

1 Tbsp white sesame seeds

1 Tbsp black sesame seeds

1 Tbsp minced onion

1 Tbsp Kalonje seeds

  (Also sold as Nigella seeds. You can find them in Indian or Asian grocery stores. They have a mild oniony flavor.)

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/4 tsp ground sumac (can be found in most Middle Eastern markets)

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp dried minced garlic

Mix everything together and store in an airtight container. 

Now that I have made a few batches of these bagels I am definitely making more. And I have a specific flavor request from Tim that I am going to experiment with. I’ll let you know how that goes. Happy baking!


Gimme Some Sugar

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