I LOVE bagels so of course I had to try making them eventually! I love the chewiness of a good bagel. Those ones that are the texture of sandwich bread aren’t real bagels to me. You need to get your jaw working a bit with a GOOD bagel. I like ’em plain, toasted with butter, with jam or with cream cheese! I love making sandwiches with them as well! I remember going out grocery shopping with my mom on Saturday mornings when I was growing up and we would go to Bruegger’s Bagels (which was right next door to the grocery store) and get bagel sandwiches for lunch. For some reason another memory of bagels I have is of my love of our bagel slicer. You know, those guillotine looking devices especially sized for bagels? But they are also awesome for cutting ciabatta rolls (another one of my favorite breads). And why I haven’t actually purchased one of these devices in the many years since I moved out on my own, is beyond me. One of these days, perhaps. Christmas gift idea? 😉

For now a bread knife will have to do.


The recipe I decided to use comes out of Peter Reinhart’s “Artisan Breads Every Day”. Peter Reinhart is an authority on bread making so what better source to turn to? The recipe is simple and requires few ingredients. The key to this recipe is time. You must prepare the dough the night before you plan to bake so that it can ferment in the fridge overnight. This is what creates that wonderful and unique flavor the bagel possesses; that along with the only ingredient you probably don’t already have in your pantry: barley malt syrup. I found this in the organic section at my local grocery store. Reinhart says that if you cannot obtain this syrup, that honey may be substituted however the flavor will not be as distinctly “bagel”. So i hunted it down. I’ve read that barley malt syrup may be substituted for molasses in many recipes so hopefully I will remember that I have it and use in future culinary endeavors! I do recommend using the barely malt syrup because the flavor of these was SPOT on! I made plain bagels, sesame seed bagels and cinnamon raisin bagels both with and without a cinnamon sugar crust. Bagel Heaven.


These bagels are as good, or better, than those you’ll find at your local grocery store or bagel shop. I was so proud of these and once I tasted them I knew I nailed it! Wegmans is the only grocery store around me that I know of that makes good chewy bagels like these. So if you aren’t lucky enough to have a good “source” for fresh bagels, just make some! Make more than you need and freeze them for later! It is a surprisingly easy kind of bread to make. I do need to improve upon my technique of sealing the ends to each other while forming them because I ended up with little points that stood up while the bagels baked. Didn’t affect the taste at all but for presentations sake I will try to really fuse these ends together more fully next time.

Actually the crunchy tips were yummy but I want them to look even more professional. Still, I’m pretty proud of these!


After the dough is made, it is allowed to rise for one hour before being shaped. To shape the bagels you can use one of two methods: divide the dough up into individual balls and poke a hole in the center of each, then stretch out the circle to the desired size OR each portion of dough can be rolled into an 8 inch rope and then connected at the ends to form a circle. I guess the “rope” method is what “professional” bagel makers use so that’s what I went for. As I said, it worked relatively well other than the fact that I didn’t anticipate the very tips to of the rope to point up. The ends need to really be mashed together more thoroughly. I may try the method of poking a hold in the center in the future but I’m not sure that the shape would be quite right. The formed bagels are then allowed to ferment overnight in the fridge (as stated above) and are then boiled. They are boiled in a “poaching liquid” consisting of water, more barley malt syrup, baking soda and salt. Don’t be alarmed when you add the baking soda to the water- it will fizz up a bit and then go down as it dissolves in, although never quite fully. After this brief boil the bagels are baked until golden brown. I temped mine just to be sure they were done. These are considered a lean bread since there isn’t egg, milk or butter in them so they should be right around 190 degrees F internally. They need to rest for at least 30 minutes before you slice them to hold their shape and to cool down.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels with and without cinnamon sugar crust

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels: left are plain, center brushed with butter, right cinnamon sugar crusted

This recipe makes 6 bagels so I decided to make a double batch, which I’m very glad I did. I mixed each batch separately so that I could make one plain and one cinnamon raisin.



Makes 6 bagels

(from Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart)

Ingredients for the Bagel Dough:

  • 1 tbsp. barley malt syrup (or honey if you can’t find it)
  • 1 tsp. instant yeast (NOT active dry yeast: if you use active dry you will need to bloom it first)
  • 1 ½ tsp. iodized salt OR 2 ½ tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. lukewarm water, 95 degrees F (255 grams)
  • 3 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
  • For cinnamon raisin bagels: add ½ tsp. ground cinnamon to the flour and 1 1/3 cup raisins to the dough during the last 2 minutes of the initial mix

Ingredients for the Poaching Liquid:

  • 2-3 quarts water
  • 1 ½ tbsp. barley malt syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt or 1 ½ tsp. coarse kosher salt


  • Make the dough the night before you plan to bake. Stir the malt syrup, yeast and salt into a large measuring cup or small bowl with the lukewarm water


  • Place the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (and the cinnamon, if using)
  • Pour the malt mixture in with the flour and mix on the lowest speed for 3 minutes. The dough should form a stiff, coarse ball. If there are still dry bits of flour, stir in a little more water until fully hydrated. If using raisins, add them after 2 minutes. If the raisins aren’t fully incorporated don’t worry, you can knead them in in the next step. Let rest for 5 minutes.


  • Mix again, on the lowest setting, for 3 minutes OR knead on a very lightly floured work surface by hand for 3 minutes (the raisins will incorporate easier if you knead by hand if you are using them). The dough should be stiff yet smooth and supple and slightly tacky. If it is sticky or very tacky, knead in a little more bread flour
plain bagel dough

plain bagel dough

cinnamon raisin bagel dough

cinnamon raisin bagel dough

  • Allow the dough to rise for one hour at room temperature in a lightly oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap or a clean towel
after rising for 1 hour

after rising for 1 hour

  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone mat and lightly mist with cooking spray
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll into balls with your hands on a clean, dry (NOT floured) surface


  • Shape the dough balls into bagels. Do this by rolling each ball into an 8 inch rope and slightly taper the ends. Grasp one end of the dough in the palm of your hand and wrap the dough around your hand so that the two ends are overlapping by about 2 inches. Roll this overlapping portion of the dough on the work surface to seal. Even out the circle a bit so the width is relatively uniform around the circle. Also, try not to twist the dough too much to get a more uniform texture in the finished project. This happened when I was forming my cinnamon raisin ones since that is a more difficult dough to work with. Still turned out great but I will careful to minimize that next time.


  • Place on the baking sheet. If making a double batch you will need two trays
I realize I didn't divide the dough up so evenly! Oops, practice makes perfect!

I realize I didn’t divide the dough up so evenly! Oops, practice makes perfect!

See? These are much more uniform :)

See? These are much more uniform 🙂

  • Once all of the bagels are formed, lightly mist them with the cooking spray and cover the tray with plastic wrap
  • Refrigerate overnight
  • Remove the tray(s) from the refrigerator 60-90 minutes before you plan to boil and bake them
  • Check to see if the bagels are ready for baking using the “float test”: fill a small bowl with cold water and place one of the bagels in it. If it sinks, it is not ready. Shake it off, return to the pan and wait another 15-20 minutes and test again. Once one floats, the rest will be ready as well. If bagels pass the float test before you are ready to bake, put them back in the refrigerator to avoid over-proofing.


  • About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F
  • Make your poaching liquid: fill a large pot with 2 to 3 quarts of water so that it is at least 4 inches deep.
  • Cover, bring to a boil and then lower the heat just enough to maintain a simmer
  • Stir in the malt syrup, baking soda and salt


  • Gently lower the bagels into the solution. Place as many in at once as will comfortably fit, working in batches if needed. They should all float to the surface in about 15 seconds


  • After 1 minute, flip each bagel with a slotted spoon and poach for another 30-60 seconds
You can see that they started to cook and changed color a bit

You can see that they started to cook and changed color a bit

  • Spray your sheet tray with cooking spray again.
  • Remove bagels with slotted spoon and transfer back to the sheet tray, domed side up.
  • If using any toppings, sprinkle them on at this point (except for cinnamon sugar)
  • Place the bagels in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees F
  • Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and check the bottoms of the bagels. If they are getting too dark, place another sheet under the baking sheet to help insulate the first tray and prevent over browning. Bake for another 8-12 minutes or until the bagels are golden brown


  • Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before eating
Half with cream cheese and half with butter. YUM

Half with cream cheese and half with butter. YUM

I added sesame seeds to the tops of some of my plain bagels by lightly brushing the bagels with an egg white wash (1 egg white beaten with 1 tbsp. of water) and then liberally coating with roasted sesame seeds BEFORE baking in the oven. The egg wash really helps the seeds stick. Also, with some of my cinnamon raisin bagels, I brushed them with melted butter and then dipped them in cinnamon sugar to give them a nice crust! This is done AFTER the bagels are done baking (you don’t want to burn the sugar). YUM!



11 responses to “Bagels

  1. I have to say, this tutorial is pretty awesome. Love the float test… i never would have thought, but then again, bagels are boiled and then baked… is the boiling bit needed just so you can get the baking soda solution on? like pretzels sort of thing? Great post, every step of it!

    • The boiling is mainly done because it creates the chewy crust by setting the crust in the poaching liquid and therefore inhibiting rising in the oven. This also contributes to the dense nature of the bagel. The malt is added for flavor and for color of the crust. The longer the boil, the thicker the crust. The baking soda also helps to gelatenize the crust which helps prevent the interior from getting soggy and also contributes to the chewiness of it.

      • Hmmm… I was thinking I might try using the malt syrup when making pretzels and do a boil on them as well. I’ve always just dunked pretzels in a baking soda solution but I know that some people boil them so maybe I will try it in that application. If you wanted a much denser, chewier loaf of bread I suppose you could give them a quick boil. Maybe rolls? You could boil them for like 20 seconds on each side for a slight crust. I don’t know… Food for thought! Let me know if you experiment! 🙂

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