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Make New York Bakery-Style Bagels at Home
This recipe has no fancy rolling or forming techniques but produces a bagel as pretty and tasty as you would buy at any good bakery! Making good-quality bagels has long eluded many a home cook—until now. This recipe is very easy, and it yields the lovely texture and high-quality flavor that many miss when poaching and baking bagels at home; the outside is crispy, while the inside is soft, yet it still has that "toothy" quality all truly good bagels must offer.
This is my favorite bagel recipe, which offers a very light caraway seed (rye) flavor. I also usually sprinkle ½ teaspoon of the caraway seed on top of each egg-washed bagel before baking them. If that doesn't appeal to you, you can eliminate the caraway and basil. However, for a real bakery-style "plain" bagel, leave in the garlic and onion powder.
Add a schmear of cream cheese and paper-thin slices of smoked salmon, and this homemade bagel becomes a perfect traditional snack. This recipe is as simple as simple can be, with results even my Jewish grandmother couldn't argue with (but be sure, she would totally find something else to complain about).
Warning: After making this recipe, you may never want to buy a bagel again!
Ingredients (Makes 18 Bagels)
- 2 packages rapid rise highly active dry yeast (this eliminates the need for a second rise)
- 2 cups warm water, about 120°F to 130°F
- 5 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3 tsp salt
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
- 3 to 4 quarts water
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/4 cup cormeal, for sprinkling on baking sheets
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tbsp cool water
- 1 tbsp dried basil (optional)
- 1 tbsp whole caraway seeds (optional)
Bagel Flavor Options
- Onion: For a very onion-flavored bagel, add ¾ cup instant toasted onion to the yeast mixture along with the sugar and salt.
- Poppy or Sesame Seed: Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of poppy seeds or sesame seeds on each egg-washed bagel before baking them.
- Salt: Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon coarse salt on each egg-washed bagel before baking them.
Step 1: Make the Dough
- Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl.
- Stir in the salt and 3 tablespoons of the sugar.
- Gradually mix in 4 cups of the flour.
- Beat well until it becomes a smooth batter.
- Mix in about 1¼ cups more flour to make the dough quite stiff.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic (10 to 20 minutes), adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. This dough should be firmer than with most other yeast breads.
- Turn the dough over in an oiled bowl, and make sure it is fully coated in oil.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size (about 45 minutes).
Photo Guide: Make the Dough
Step 2: Shape the Dough
Once the dough rises, it's time to shape it! You'll find no impossibly fancy rolling techniques here—just the simplest way to make your dough into a lovely bagel for boiling and baking.
- Once the dough is ready, punch it down and knead it briefly on a lightly floured surface to release the air.
- Divide the dough into 18 equal pieces.
- Knead each piece, forming it into a smooth ball.
- Holding the ball with both hands, poke your thumbs through the center. With one thumb in the hole, work around the perimeter and shape it like a doughnut 2½ to 3 inches across.
- Place the formed bagels on a lightly floured board, cover lightly, and let stand in a warm place until you've finished shaping all the dough.
Note: there is no need for a second rise when using the highly active rapid rise yeast.
Step 3: Boil and Bake
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Bring water-sugar-honey mixture to a boil in a five-quart pan; adjust heat to keep it boiling gently.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal or place a piece of parchment paper on the baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.
- Gently lift one bagel at a time and drop it into the poaching water. You can boil anywhere from three to five at a time depending on the size of your pot.*
- Turn each one over every 30 seconds, and boil for a total of 6 minutes.
- Lift the bagels out one at a time with a slotted spatula (I use a rubber fish spatula because of its broad size and long slots), and drain on a clean towel for about 10 seconds (no longer, or they will stick to the cloth).
- Pat the top of each bagel dry with the corner of the same towel, then place it on the baking sheet.
- Brush each bagel with the egg yolk mixture.
- Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until well browned and crusty.
- Cool on a wire rack.
*Note: make sure the pot is large enough for the bagels to move freely, with water touching all sides of each bagel. They should not touch each other during the boiling process for any extended length of time, though some bumping is expected.
Photo Guide: Shape, Boil, and Bake
Time to Enjoy!
Now that your bagels are boiled, baked, and cooled, slather on cream cheese, preserves, peanut butter, or anything else you're craving, and dig in!
How to Store Your Freshly Baked Bagels
We place ours in a zip-top bag and keep them in the refrigerator for up to five days; they stay very tasty this way, but you need to make sure they have cooled completely before putting them in the plastic bag, or they can get a little mushy from the condensation. We then freeze a few in an airtight, sealed bag; these will last up to six months. Just defrost them, slice them, and pop them in the toaster or under the broiler and eat as you would any fresh bagel.
How Long Does It Take to Make Bagels?
Making yeast mixture
Mix flour and yeast to batter stage
Mix dough to stiff stage
3 to 4 minutes
Turn out and knead dough
15 to 20 minutes
Rise dough until doubled in size
40 to 45 minutes
Punch down dough after rise & knead lightly
Cut into 18 even pieces
Form 18 pieces into individual balls
Shape 18 pieces into bagels
Boil bagels 3 at a time for 6 minutes
36 minutes (you can increase batch size as long as the pot has room to add the extra bagels)
Drain each bagel for 10 seconds
Brush each with egg wash
Bake two batches of 9
50 minutes to 1 hour
Cool on rack
TOTAL COOK TIME:
About 1.5 to 3 hours including rising, boil, and cook times. The broad time variance is due to increase in the boil and bake batch sizes. Baking all 18 in one batch cuts bake time by half. Boiling more than three bagels at a time reduces this timeline as well.