It’ll be hard to go back to storebought bagels after these.
These homemade bagels were simply delicious, and as though that were not enough, they were both easy and fun to make on top of that. They had a perfectly chewy crust and a tender/chewy inside that stood up well to butter and jam. The bagels also toasted perfectly – and in a bagel, that is just about all you can ask for.
I decided that plain was the most versatile type of bagel to make, so I only topped this batch with a simple egg wash to give them a shine. Poppy or sesame seeds can easily be added on top of that glaze to liven things up a little.
The most difficult part of bagel-making is shaping them. But it is only difficult because so many sources will steer you wrong about how it should be done. You should absolutely not attempt to form the bagels by rolling the dough into a “snake” and pinching the ends together. The “snake” will come undone in the boiling water and you’ll be left with a less than optimal shape. They’ll probably taste fine, but they’re not going to fit easily in the toaster that way. The much easier, more foolproof way is to shape the dough into tight balls and poke a hole through the center of each. Stretch out the dough into a ring with your fingers and you’re all set! Make the hole a little larger than you want the finished bagel to have, as it will shrink slightly while the bagel is expanding during the baking process. Along with the recipe below, I’ve included a step-by-step photo that demonstrates bagel-shaping to help you along.
These aren’t the giant-sized bagels that make for good sandwiches, but rather more “normal” sized, good for breakfast or a snack. If you do want sandwich-sized bagels, follow the instructions below and, instead of making 12 bagels, make 6 or 8 with the same amount of dough. Increase the baking time by a few minutes and you’ll have the right size to suit your needs.
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups water, warm (100-110F)
4 cups bread flour (not all purpose)
1 tbsp salt
1 egg, for egg wash
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) combine yeast, sugar and water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in flour and salt. Mix dough thoroughly until it comes together in a large ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add an additional tablespoon of flour or water, if needed.
If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If using a stand mixer, knead dough with the dough hook until elastic, about 8 minutes on a low speed. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 400F.
When dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces (first quarters, then thirds). Shape each piece into a tight ball as illustrated below, pinching the corners together at the bottom of the piece of dough. When all the balls are shaped, let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with a clean dish towel.
Once dough balls have rested, the bagel shape can be formed. Using your fingers, poke a hole through the center of each dough ball. Stretch out the dough into a ring with your fingers and be sure to make the hole a little larger than you want the finished bagel to have, as it will shrink slightly while the bagel is expanding during the baking process. Let bagels rest for about 10 minutes.
Working four at a time, drop the bagels carefully into the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes on the first side, then flip and boil for an additional minute. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer bagels to a clean towel to drain for a moment, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining bagels.
Brush boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg (a pastry or bbq brush is a good tool for this) and bake for 20-24 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool completely on a wire rack.
Slice and toast to serve.
Makes 12 bagels.