A Great Bagel Recipe + What I Learned in the Process

At the beginning of the year, one of my resolutions was to learn how to make croissants. While I haven’t mastered that one yet, I did figure out a pretty foolproof recipe for bagels, which Ryan and I will be eating for the foreseeable future. They are fluffy, taste just right, and are made with four simple ingredients. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

While making bagels is on the easier side (compared to, say, croissants) there are some specific things I learned along the way that improved their outcome greatly. I want to share those first, in the hope that your first go at this recipe gives you a fabulous result.

  • Tip #1: Do not overproof your dough. If your dough rises too much in the first stage of proofing, they will deflate when you put them I the water bath. You will still end up with a perfectly edible bagel, however they won’t have that round, fluffy look we all know and love.
  • Tip #2: When forming your bagels, spin, twist, and pinch to create an optimal shape. We watched this video which helped a ton! I suppose it’s harder to explain in words..
  • Tip #3: If you’d rather not use plastic wrap when you store your bagels in the fridge, covering them with a towel will work. I did, however, find they stuck to the parchment paper more in this case and formed a firmer outside “shell” on the top. Luckily, this didn’t seem to have an impact on the final product.
  • Tip #4: Weather matters! I started making these bagels in the heat and humidity of summer which I’m sure has had a huge impact on proofing time and rising time, once the bagels are pulled from the fridge. Adjust accordingly, while erring on proofing less (see Tip #1).
  • Tip #5: I’ve had success with active dry and instant yeast, however I’ve only made these bagels in four batches now which doesn’t give me too much data to support whether one is better than the other.

If you try out this recipe, leave a comment below and let me know what you think. There is truly nothing like waking up and knowing you have a fresh bagel waiting for breakfast.

Ingredients (Bagels)

1 1/4 cups of warm water

1 tbsp. maple syrup

1 packet of yeast

540 grams of bread flour

*You will need a gram scale and a mixer with a dough hook attachment for this recipe. I have yet to find a way around this.. other than kneading for hours on hours

Ingredients (Water Bath)

6 quarts of water

1 tbsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. salt

Recipe

  1. In a glass measuring cup, heat 1 1/4 cups of water for 30 seconds to 1 minute in the microwave. Add maple syrup and yeast and stir. Let sit for 5 minutes until blooming.
  2. In a mixer bowl, weigh out 540 grams of flour. With a dough hook attached, slowly add your yeast and water mixture at slow speed. Then, increase your speed to medium and let mix for about 5 minutes. Your dough should be combined and smooth and should not be sticky to the touch.
  3. Place your dough in a clean bowl and cover with a dish towel. In warm weather, let proof for 30-45 minutes. In cooler weather, you may have to wait for 1 hour. Remember: over-proofing the dough in this stage means flat bagels!
  4. Once your dough has proofed, form a ball and cut into eight pieces (in half, then those halves in half again, and then one more time!) Shape your bagels (see video above) and place them on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  5. Cover your bagels with plastic wrap and place them in the fridge for 6-8 hours.
  6. When ready to boil and bake, remove your bagels from the fridge and let them sit at room temperature. In warmer weather, this should take about 30-45 minutes. In cooler weather, you may have to wait for 1 hour.
  7. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  8. In a pot on the stove, bring a baking soda bath to boil. Each bagel should boil in the bath for 1 minute on each side. Use a strainer to flip and remove them from the bath, placing them back on the parchment paper and cookie sheet.
  9. You can use an egg wash (I prefer egg white only) and Everything But the Bagel seasoning to spruce up your bagels or leave them as is. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown.

It’s best to let your bagels cool a few minutes before digging in, but most of the time we’re cutting, burning our fingers because we just can’t wait. I’ve found these bagels last well at room temperature for about two days and then I transfer them to the fridge. The great news is, they freeze well too! I’ve decided the only bagels I’ll ever buy again will be from NYC… if you know, you know.

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