Homemade Bagels ~ ElephantEats.com

My blogger friend Alyssa alerted me to Love and Olive Oil’s bagel challenge and encouraged me to try it along with her, and I’m so glad she did! Bagels were one of the foods on my list of things to attempt in my kitchen at some point in my lifetime (along with pretzels, marshmallows, graham crackers, and a few others).

I followed Peter Reinhart’s recipe from his book Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day. They were so much easier to make than i was expecting. Most yeast recipes I have followed require so much rising, but this one (I’m assuming because of the “instant” yeast used) only had one 1-hr rise and then time overnight spent in the fridge.

Homemade Bagels ~ ElephantEats.com

I don’t have the dough hook for my Kitchen Aid mixer and it’s the mixer is such a pain to get out anyway that I rarely use it. I made this recipe by stirring with a wooden spoon and then kneading. I must be seriously out of shape because after 3 minutes of kneading, my abs were seriously sore the next day.

My bagels came out a little flatter than I was expecting but they were still totally delicious. I think it might be because I rolled the dough out into too thin of a “rope.” The recipe says to have a 2.5 inch hole but making it smaller may have kept the bagels puffier.

I also was reading up on flat bagels online and it seems that not refrigerating and simply baking after the first rise might solve the problem, but it could sacrifice the texture.

Homemade Bagels ~ ElephantEats.com

Personally, I was ok with their shape because their texture was SOOO good. They were everything a good bagel is supposed to be- crispy on the outside, airy but chewy on the inside. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bread person and I’m salivating just thinking about it. They smelled amazing too!

Some things I learned that you might find helpful:

  • If you use the second technique in the recipe to form the bagels, do not roll the “ropes” too thin and long.
  • Keep the bagel hole on the small side, especially if you make smaller bagels. If you divide into 8 pieces, keep each hole around 1″ wide
  • If using method two to shape the bagels, don’t overwet the ends or they won’t stick together.
  • Don’t overcrowd your pot when you boil the bagels.
  • If you line your pan with parchment, be sure to snip off any overhang, or it will majorly burn in the very hot 500° oven.
  • The “domed” side of the bagel the recipe is talking about is the side that ends on the bottom.
  • The recipe included here calls for instant yeast, not active dry yeast, but it still needs to be fully dissolved in lukewarm water before being used. If you only have active dry yeast, use 25 percent more (1 1/4 teaspoons instead of 1 teaspoon). Instant yeast is widely available and can also be ordered from King Arthur Flour or Amazon. If frozen, in an airtight container, it will keep up to two years.
  • I saw malt syrup in the market but it was so expensive and only came in a huge bottle so I just used honey in the recipe and it was totally fine.

That’s about it. Other than that, the recipe was super easy to follow. Enjoy!

This post is also being submitted to Yeastspotting!

Homemade Bagels ~ ElephantEats.com

Homemade Bagels

From Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day via Epicurious

Print this recipe!

makes 6-8 bagels

1 tablespoon (0.75 oz / 21 g) barley malt syrup, honey, or rice syrup, or 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) diastatic malt powder
1 teaspoon (0.11 oz / 3 g) instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons (0.37 oz / 10.5 g) salt, or 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 oz / 255 g) lukewarm water (about 95°F or 35°C)
3 1/2 cups (16 oz / 454 g) unbleached bread flour

Poaching liquid
2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 oz / 181 to 272 g) water
1 1/2 tablespoons (1 oz / 28.5 g) barley malt syrup or honey (optional)
1 tablespoon (0.5 oz / 14 g) baking soda
1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

Do Ahead:
To make the dough, stir the malt syrup, yeast, and salt into the lukewarm water. Place the flour into a mixing bowl and pour in the malt syrup mixture. If using a mixer, use the dough hook and mix on the lowest speed for 3 minutes. If mixing by hand, use a large, sturdy spoon and stir for about 3 minutes, until well blended.

The dough should form a stiff, coarse ball, and the flour should be fully hydrated; if it isn’t, stir in a little more water. I had to add some more water. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Resume mixing with the dough hook on the lowest speed for another 3 minutes or transfer to a very lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for about 3 minutes to smooth out the dough and develop the gluten. The dough should be stiff yet supple, with a satiny, barely tacky feel. If the dough seems too soft or overly tacky, mix or knead in a little more flour.

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

When you’re ready to shape the bagels, prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat, then misting it with spray oil or lightly coating it with oil. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal pieces. (A typical bagel is about 4 ounces or 113 grams before baking, but you can make them smaller. If you make more than 6 bagels, you may need to prepare 2 sheet pans.) Form each piece into a loose ball by rolling it on a clean, dry work surface with a cupped hand. (Don’t use any flour on the work surface. If the dough slides around and won’t ball up, wipe the surface with a damp paper towel and try again; the slight bit of moisture will provide enough traction for the dough to form into a ball.)

There are two methods to shape the balls into bagels:

The first method is to poke a hole through the center of the ball to create a donut shape. Holding the dough with both thumbs in the hole, rotate the dough with your hands, gradually stretching it to create a hole about 2 inches in diameter.

The second method, preferred by professional bagel makers, is to use both hands (and a fair amount of pressure) to roll the ball into a rope about 8 inches long on a clean, dry work surface. (Again, wipe the surface with a damp towel, if necessary, to create sufficient friction on the work surface.) Taper the rope slightly at each end and moisten the last inch or so of the ends. Place one end of the dough in the palm of your hand and wrap the rope around your hand to complete the circle, going between your thumb and forefinger and then all the way around. The ends should overlap by about 2 inches. Squeeze the overlapping ends together by closing your hand, then press the seam into the work surface, rolling it back and forth a few times to seal. Remove the dough from your hand, squeezing it to even out the thickness if need be and creating a hole of about 2 inches in diameter. (I think you should make a smaller hole)

Place each shaped bagel on the prepared sheet pan, then mist with spray oil or brush with a light coating of oil. Cover the entire pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days. (You can also proof the full piece of dough in the oiled bowl overnight and then shape the bagels on baking day, 60 to 90 minutes before boiling and baking them, or as soon as they pass the float test.)

On baking day:
Remove the bagels from the refrigerator 60 to 90 minutes before you plan to bake them, and if you plan to top them with dried onion or garlic, rehydrate those ingredients (see the variations).

Immediately check whether the bagels are ready for baking using the “float test”: Place one of the bagels in a small bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn’t float back to the surface, shake it off, return it to the pan, and wait for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they’re all ready to be boiled.

If they pass the float test before you are ready to boil and bake them, return them to the refrigerator so they don’t overproof. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) and gather and prepare your garnishes (seeds, onions, garlic, and so on).
To make the poaching liquid, fill a pot with 2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 oz / 181 to 272 g) of water, making sure the water is at least 4 inches deep. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain at a simmer. Stir in the malt syrup, baking soda, and salt.

Gently lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid, adding as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. They should all float to the surface within 15 seconds. After 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to turn each bagel over. Poach for another 30 to 60 seconds, then use the slotted spoon to transfer it back to the pan, domed side up (the part that’s now on the bottom). (It’s important that the parchment paper be lightly oiled, or the paper will glue itself to the dough as the bagels bake.) Sprinkle on a generous amount of whatever toppings you like as soon as the bagels come out of the water (except cinnamon sugar; see the variation for details).

Transfer the pan of bagels to the oven, then lower the oven heat to 450°F (232°C).
Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and check the underside of the bagels. If they’re getting too dark, place another pan under the baking sheet. (Doubling the pan will insulate the first baking sheet.) Bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, until the bagels are a golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.

You can replace any amount of the bread flour with an equal amount of whole grain flour (by weight), such as wheat or rye. If you do so, increase the water in the dough by 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz / 14 g) for every 2 ounces (56.5 g) of whole grain flour you substitute.
Top your bagels with any combination of the following garnishes: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt, or rehydrated dried onions or garlic. (Soak dried onions or garlic in water to cover for at least 1 hour before applying.) The toppings will stick even better if you first brush the top of each bagel with an egg white wash made by whisking 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz / 14 g) of water. If using coarse salt as a garnish, remember that a little goes a long way.
For raisin bagels, mix in 1 1/3 cups (8 oz / 227 g) of raisins during the final 2 minutes of mixing and, if you like cinnamon, stir 1/2 teaspoon (0.14 oz / 4 g) of ground cinnamon into the flour before you start mixing. When the bagels come out of the oven, brush the tops with melted butter and dip the top into a bed of cinnamon sugar to give it a very tasty cinnamon crust. You can make cinnamon sugar by whisking 2 tablespoons (1.6 oz / 44 g) of ground cinnamon into 1/2 cup (4 oz / 113 g) of granulated sugar.


  1. I looooove making bagels!

    I use the poke a hole through the middle method after they’ve risen. Puffy bagels everytime! Of course…any bagel is a good bagel in my book. :D

    I have homemade lox in the fridge right now for a new batch of bagels. But, I don’t have any right now. Ummmm…send some over?

  2. Oh Amy – wow!!! You made bagels! How cool is that! I actually like that your bagels are flatter. And sesame bagels are my #1 favorite. Yours looks sooo good and I can practically smell them and taste the texture as you describe it. Once in a while, I have to run into the town center to ‘manhattan bagel’ for a sesame bagel…when it is warm, it is just divine. Yours really turned out so well – the brown color, the airy interior and all those lovely sesame seeds. Ahh…I could use one of your bagels, toasted with cream cheese right now! Great job!!

    • Hehe, thanks, Monica! I have to say that this is the easiest yeast bread recipe I’ve ever tried. i don’t know if it’s because bagels are really easy to make or because the recipe used instant yeast, but you SO need to try it! I’ve never been to Manhattan Bagel, but my favorites in that area are Bagels 4 U, down at the edge of the Panera shopping center on Morris Ave. Those are the bagels I ate growing up and they’re awesome. Sesame seed is my fave topping too!!!

  3. So want to try this!! Saving for later!!!

  4. High 5, awesome job on this Amy! They look great.

  5. Yum! Bagels!! They aren’t so scary, right? Or even as time-consuming as some people make them out to be. It’s funny because I did a “bagel face off” ummmmm like 2 years ago, where I was supposed to test two bagel recipes against each other…. To this day I still haven’t gotten around to making the second recipe… hahaha! Maybe I’ll be motivated and make all three and then compare :)

  6. Beautiful, Amy! Ah nothing like fresh homemade bread :) I love love love the maltiness of good bagels. These look fantastic.

    • Thanks, Irina :) I didn’t use the malt syrup but i def want to give that a try next time. I wonder if I’ll notice a big difference.

  7. I’ve never thought to make my own bagels before but now I really want to! These looks really good. Well done, Amy.

  8. I’ve always wanted to try making bagels! Your look incredible, and the texture inside looks perfect. YUM!!

  9. Yours look like they came out so good!
    I used active dry yeast because that’s what we had. I don’t remember if I compensated for it, but that could be why mine ended up so pretzely.

  10. Wow I can’t wait to make these! Homemade is the best! Great job!

  11. Your bagels look great and kneading dough sounds like a great exercise! :P I think I’ll skip the dough hook and give this a try next time too. I have many pounds to shed!

  12. I was so excited to make bagels this year at school! (And English muffins. And PRETZELS!) It’s so satisfying to make something like that AT HOME!! Yours look awesome. We used a Reinhart recipe as well – not the one you used, but very similar (actually we tested a couple recipes, but his was our favourite). Here’s the thing about flat bagels made at home: they’re still better than the ones you buy at the grocery store, and they fit in a toaster.

    • Thanks, Movita!! I’m glad to hear that this recipe was the one you used. I wasn’t too upset about them being a bit flat…i agree :)

  13. your bagels look incredible, amy! i mean, so, so awesome. Also, i just added love and olive oil to my reader, because i’m not sure why it wasn’t there before, but now it is officially in there. I’m SO organized. :) i wish i was home, because i would have totally done this bagel challenge; i have actually never made a successful bagel (although i HAVE made two failed bagels, so there’s that). you make me want to try again! I kind of like that yours are flat-ish; i agree with Movita…better in the toaster.

    • Thank you Shannon!!! Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to comments (and I know I still haven’t responded to your email…it’s on my list to do tonight!). Yeah, I just found that site as well and I really like it. Next challenge we’ll do together, k? :)

  14. I think your bagels look really good. There’s nothing better than home baked bread and good on you for taking up the challenge xx

  15. Bagels are one thing that I love to make but rarely take the time to do, which is a shame because the end result is sooo good. Yours look beautiful even if they are a little flat. I’ve baked a similar recipe and wonder if you used non-instant yeast if it would help. Either way, they would still taste like heaven coming out of the oven.

    • I hadn’t made them before but will certainly be doing it again! I should try non-instant yeast but wonder how it would affect rising time and number of rises…any idea/

  16. I’ve made that recipe before (but with cinnamon raisin flavors) and it is just SO.GOOD. Dare I say it even beats out NYC bagels for deliciousness. Yours look pretty dang good to me!

    • Ooooh, I bet cinnamon raisin is amazing! I was too lazy to mix the toppings into the dough because it meant more kneading, hehe. Maybe next time :) Thanks, Joanne!

  17. Sesame is my bagel of choice and yours look terrific, Amy! I seriously need to make a batch ASAP….nothing better than homemade bagels!

  18. Suhhhhhhhhhhweeeeeeeeeeeet!! I haven’t made bagels before, but I love the sound of a poaching liquid. There aren’t many things you can poach (that come to mind)….. eggs and wild animals are the two I’m thinking of.

    I’ve never been a big bagel fan because I’m not into the super doughiness and endless chewing – so your flatter bagels actually sound perfect to me:)

    • Poached wild animals?! I don’t even wanna know. Poached eggs are tasty, as is poached salmon. Poaching the dough was pretty fun. I promise these aren’t very doughy. Give em a shot, Emma!

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