Homemade Bagels

Returning from a lovely but busy vacation, I had little motivation to cook. I basically just wanted Indian food or sushi delivered to my door for days on end. But now I have my mojo back. This became rapidly apparent when I decided to make homemade bagels last night. Starting at 9:00 PM. Hey, when inspiration strikes, go with it!

I’ve made bagels before, but they turned out a little lumpy and flat. I think it was my shaping method. Take note: I highly recommend sticking your thumbs in the middle to make a hole rather than forming a log and joining the ends. It makes for prettier bagels. I also think the overnight resting period in this recipe plays a key role in developing the flavor.

Making homemade bagels takes a fair amount of time and some strong biceps, but it’s so worth it. Next up, homemade cream cheese? Hmmm, I’m thinking about it… that would take some serious mojo.

Homemade bagels

Homemade bagels

Homemade bagels


Homemade Bagels


  • 1 tsp. instant yeast
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water


  • 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 2 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour

To Finish

  • 1 Tbs. baking soda
  • egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbs. water)
  • cornmeal, for dusting the baking sheets
  • desired toppings (see below)

Make the sponge: In large bowl stir together yeast and flour. Stir in water until a sticky dough forms. Cover and place in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, or until bubbly and doubled in size.

Make the dough: When the sponge is ready, stir in the additional yeast, salt, and honey. Stir in 3 cups of bread flour until a ball forms. (You can use a stand mixer for this step if it’s easier.) Turn the dough onto a counter and knead for at least 10 minutes by hand, or 6 minutes if using a stand mixer. If the dough is too sticky, add additional flour. If it seems too dry, add a few drops of water. The dough is done when it’s firm but pliable and satiny smooth, not tacky. It should also pass the windowpane test.

Divide the dough evenly into 16 pieces and form each piece into a roll. (I used a kitchen scale to help divide the dough, and each piece weighed 3.3 ounces.) Cover with a damp towel and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with oil.

Shape each roll into a bagel by sticking your thumbs through the middle and carefully turning the dough until an even hole forms. The hole should be about 2 inches in diameter. Place the shaped bagels on the parchment-lined baking sheets and spray lightly with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for another 20 minutes at room temperature.

Time for the float test: Place a bagel in a bowl of water to see if it floats within 10 seconds. If the bagel doesn’t float, place it back on the baking sheet and let the bagels continue to rest for another few minutes. Try the float test again. Once the bagel floats, place the baking sheets (still covered with plastic wrap) in the refrigerator. Refrigerate overnight, or up to two days.

When it’s time to bake the bagels, preheat oven to 475° F. Bring a large, wide pot of water to a boil and stir in baking soda. Prepare egg wash by beating together egg and water, and gather your toppings. Remove bagels from refrigerator.

Carefully place bagels in boiling water– 3 or 4 at a time– and boil for one minute. Flip bagels over and boil for one more minute. (You can boil them for two minutes on each side if you want chewier bagels.) While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the empty spots on the parchment-lined baking sheets with cornmeal. Using a slotted spoon, remove bagels from boiling water and place on baking sheets. Brush bagels with egg wash and sprinkle with desired toppings.

Bake on center rack of oven for 5 minutes, turn the baking sheet 180° and bake for another 5 minutes, or until golden brown. (At this point you can bake for an additional 3-5 minutes if you want darker bagels.) Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 16 bagels.

Source: Slightly adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart via Smitten Kitchen

Bagel Topping Ideas:

Everything: Stir together 1 Tbs. each of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dehydrated minced onion, and dehydrated minced garlic. (You can also add caraway seed and kosher salt, but I’m not a fan.)

Cinnamon sugar: Stir together 1/4 cup of brown sugar with 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon.

Cheese: Freshly grated parmesan or asiago.

Garlic: Simply sprinkle with dehydrated minced garlic.

Onion: Simply sprinkle with dehydrated minced onion.

Sesame: Yup, just sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Poppy seed: Okay, you get it. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.


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