The Satisfaction of Bagel Making

Everything Bagels
Yields: 8 Servings Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 30 Mins Cook Time: 15 Mins Total Time: 45 Mins

If It’s Tuesday, I Am Bagel Making

Bagels, with their distinctive chewy exterior and a soft interior, are lovely to eat warm, toasted, or right out of the oven. (ouch, hot!) There is no doubt that the single most consumbreakfast bageled food in my house is the bagel. Because of our high bagel consumption, and to avoid mediocre grocery store bagels or the waste of purchasing too many bagels at the warehouse store, I take the time to make bagels every week.

My husband enjoys a bagel every morning for breakfast. Lightly toasted, shmear, lox, tomato, and some cucumber. His father does the same. If this bagel tradition went back generations, I would not be at all surprised.

A good bagel is something to savor. Forever ruined is the grocery store bagel once you have added bagels to your baking repertoire.


Ed Levine of The New York Times, quoted in The Atlantic, described the bagel perfectly:

A bagel is a round bread made of simple, elegant ingredients: high-gluten flour, salt, water, yeast and malt. Its dough is boiled, then baked, and the result should be a rich caramel color; it should not be pale and blond. A bagel should weigh four ounces or less and should make a slight cracking sound when you bite into it instead of a whoosh. A bagel should be eaten warm and, ideally, should be no more than four or five hours old when consumed. All else is not a bagel. – From The Secret History Of Bagels, The Atlantic.

If bagel history is intriguing to you, check out “The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread” by Maria Balinska. Bagels have held a place in social, political, and religious life for centuries.

If At First You Don’t Succeed

bagel gearMy first attempt at bagel making was a fail. My bagels looked funky. Wrinkled and small, overboiled bread rolls with small holes, these bagels were not my best baking result. While they didn’t taste as bad as they looked, they were only okay.

After and in spite of my failure, I started trying different recipes, taking a bit from here and a bit from there. When I found the right tools, it made the job easier. Each time I made bagels, I got better, and they got better.

The first time I made egg bagels, my husbands favorite, I was happily successful. Wanting to push the limits of egg in my bagel, for my next attempt, I added one more yolk to my recipe. This attempt was another fail. Experimentation and failure is part of the learning process, so I did not allow myself to become disheartened.

Now, as demand requires, I happily settle in, on Tuesdays, to make fresh bagels.

Here is a simple bagel recipe I believe you will enjoy. Check the notes for more information for modifying this recipe.

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0/8 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
    For The Dough
  • For The Water Bath


0/8 Instructions
    Make The Dough
  • Combine all dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer.
  • Knead until dough is firm but tacky. If you are using a mixer with a dough hook, knead on high speed for 10 minutes. You are listening for the "thwack" of the dough against the side of the bowl. The dough should not spread when removed from the hook. If you knead by hand, knead vigorously.
  • Place dough in an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise for up to 90 minutes. The dough should rise to just under double in size. A marked container is perfect for monitoring dough rising.
  • With lightly oiled or floured hands, shape dough into smooth balls. Cover the dough with cling film and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Note: If you weigh your risen dough you can calculate how much each bagel should weigh. I make eight, 125 +/- g balls.
  • Making The Water Bath
  • While the dough rises, combine water, malt (or brown sugar), and sugar to create your water bath. Use a pot that is deep enough to hold the water and allow you to submerge your bagel. Bring water to a boil. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (f).
  • Shape
  • Using your finger, make a hole in the center of the dough and "twirl" the dough until you have your bagel with a hole. To make this easier, I bought bagel molds. See the recipe notes for more information.
  • Boil The Bagels
  • Working two at a time, carefully drop your bagels in the boiling water. Turn the bagel after one minute and allow to boil another 30 seconds. If you are using bagel molds, push the top of the mold down to submerge the bagel. The mold gets hot so use a spoon or spatula. If the bagel does not completely submerge, use a spoon to pour water over the bagel for about a minute and a half.
  • Your boiled bagels with have a shine and will spread out from the puffy dough consistency. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown (not blonde!). Cool on a wire rack. (see notes for variations)



Egg Bagels: Beat 3 egg yolks,  add to the dry ingredients. This will add additional moisture you need to compensate for. As you knead the dough, gradually add up to one additional cup of flour to achieve the strong, tacky dough.

Everything Bagel: Beat one egg white. After you boil the bagels brush with the egg white and sprinkle some everything bagel topping. Bake. Watch them closely as the egg white will brown your bagels faster. You can do this with any topping. If you choose to use dehydrated onion flakes, put them on halfway through the bake because they burn.

Cranberry Orange: Add one cup of dried cranberries and the zest of a medium orange to the dry mix. Continue as directed by the recipe. Try this with raisins and cinnamon or any combo that sounds good to you.


This list contains links to suggested products. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

Dough-Rising Tub: keep track of how far your dough has risen with the measurements on this handy dough-rising tub.

Bagel Molds: These make the entire bagel-making experience so much easier.

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