Sunday, August 22, 2010

Homemade Bagels

I didn't have the pleasure of eating a freshly baked bagel until the age of 28. Tragic right? After that first bite of crusty bagel exterior and tender insides, I shot my fists in the air and vowed, Scarlett O'Hara style, never to eat frozen or 2 day old bagels again. I kept that vow (because I'm hardcore like that).

I'm not going to lie to you...making bagels is quite a process, but the end result is so worth it. The recipe I use comes from a Julia Child (may she rest in peace) cookbook and requires it be refrigerated during the 2nd rising. So if I want bagels on Sunday morning, I would make the dough the night before and pop it into the fridge overnight to rise. That way, when I wake up, the dough is ready for me to turn them into delectable bagels. Another thing about making bagels is they need to be boiled in water before being baked. Just a brief soak in the hot tub will give them the chewiness we all appreciate and expect.  After having said all that, I advise that you read through the recipe thoroughly. You can do this! Now get to it.

By: Lauren Groveman

For the bagels:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper(optional)
6 cups high-gluten flour (bread flour)

For the water bath: 

8 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the glazing and topping:  
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon cold water
Sesame, poppy, and/or caraway seeds
Kosher salt

Makes 10 large bagels or 16 medium bagels

Brush the inside of an 8-quart bowl with some melted butter; set aside. Reserve remaining melted butter. Whisk yeast into 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Add a pinch of sugar and let mixture rest until creamy. Pour remaining water into a large bowl and add the shortening, the yeast mixture, sugar, salt and pepper, and stir with a wooden spoon to mix. Stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, add the flour (use almost 6 cups of flour) -- dough will be soft and sticky. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead 6 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Use additional flour to keep dough from sticking to hands and work surface. Form dough into a ball and transfer to the buttered bowl. Brush top of dough with melted butter, cover bowl with buttered plastic wrap, and top with a kitchen towel. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Deflate dough, cover as before, and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and place a baking stone on it, put a roasting pan on the oven floor and preheat to 500°F. Fill a stock pot with water and bring to a rapid boil. Line 2 baking trays with kitchen towels. Rub flour into one of the towels. Deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough in half; cover and chill one piece. Cut the other piece into 5 equal pieces; work with one piece at a time and cover the remaining pieces with a towel. Draw up the dough from the bottom, stretch it, and pinch it at the top.

Keep pulling the dough up and pinching it until it is a perfectly round, tightly packed ball of dough with a little topknot.

Turn the dough over so the knot is against the work surface and plunge your finger into the center of the dough. (Pardon my dish pan hands)

Wiggle your finger around to stretch it, then lift the bagel, hook it over the thumb of one hand and the index finger of the other, and rotate the dough, circling your thumb and finger and elongating the hole to a diameter of 2 1/2 inches. (I didn't make the hole large enough on the bagel below, this resulted in a pudgy looking bagel with no hole).

Put the bagel on the baking sheet with the floured towel, and cover with another towel. Shape the remaining 4 pieces of dough into bagels.

Before boiling the bagels, add sugar and baking soda to boiling water. With a large slotted spoon lower the bagels into the water. They will sink to the bottom, then rise to the top. Once they have surfaced, boil for 2 minutes on each side, flipping them over with the spoon. Remove the bagels, and put them on the baking sheet with the unfloured towel, keeping the smoothest side of the bagel up. Keeping the smooth sides up, transfer bagels to a cornmeal-dusted peel.

Whisk the egg whites and cold water together until the whites are broken up, then push the glaze through a sieve and brush each bagel with the glaze. Brush with another coat of glaze and, if using a topping, sprinkle it evenly over the bagels. Put 4 ice cubes in a 1-pint measuring cup and add 1/4 cup cold water. Put the bagels into the oven and immediately toss the ice cubes and water into the hot pan. Quickly close the oven door to capture the steam, turn the temperature to 450°F, and bake for 25 minutes. Turn oven off and let bagels remain in the oven for 5 minutes. Open the oven door and leave bagels in for another 5 minutes.

Transfer bagels to a rack and cool. While the first batch is baking, cut and shape the remaining dough. Boil and glaze these bagels as above. Before baking, bring the oven back to 500°F.

These are great eaten right out of the oven or...

Cut in half and toasted...

And smeared with onion and chives cream cheese.

If you're feeling especially fancy, top with smoked salmon, red onions and capers!


  1. Nicely done!! My daughter recently started making pretzels with me, this is going to be our next project.

  2. Thanks Kim :) I was thinking of baking soft pretzels soon!

  3. You don't go for the easy stuff, do you? :-) I had bagels for breakfast a few mornings while on vacation and since they weren't very good, I wondered about making them at home. Of course, you would go and actually do it. Good for you! These bagels look perfect! You've amazed me again. :-)

  4. Wow, your bagels look delicious. And very pretty and polished.

  5. Wow! Looks like you are a pro at this! Why is it the best breakfast items require overnight rising, I've got to start thinking ahead! Nice job and thanks for all the pics, it always helps!

  6. Wait wait wait...28? As in 2-8?

    This is usually where I would grab you by the shoulder and give you a good (but gentle) shake but at the same time, I'm 29 and have been eating sub-par (sometimes frozen) bagels for almost 20 years. So I think you win.

    The texture of the bagel looks SO good. I'm seriously impressed.

  7. I love homemade bagels - can't wait to try this version!

  8. Wonderful! I have made these twice, and both times they were delicious. The second batch I even doubled it. Great recipe.

  9. Awesome! I'm so glad they turned out for you. I haven't made these in a while...I think it maybe time to give them another go!


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