Homemade Bagels


Three weeks ago, I brought my kid to a public library for a story reading. After the story reading, I went browsing around the library and saw the cookbooks on the shelves. I never used cookbook before. Everything I want to try are on online. My phone is my cookbook, camera and where I type my posts. If I need a reference on how I made a recipe before, I go to my post, read how long I baked it, and click the link for the recipe. But there’s a book that caught my attention, I remembered the title since it’s often mentioned on The Fresh Loaf (a website for bread making enthusiasts). The book is called The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. So, I took it home and though I didn’t have a chance to really read it yet, it is a great book that makes you really want to try the all the bread recipes in there. So after 3 weeks, I decided to try one of the recipes – homemade bagels. For us, Montreal, QC Canada has the best bagels we’ve eaten not NYC (we go to Doughnut Plant in NYC for our best donuts). Though I don’t remember which one we’ve been too since there are 2 popular ones. The bagels in Montreal are chewy, skinnier, lighter and softer compared to the NY bagels.

The recipe below is my own personal notes. That means I didn’t type the recipe as is, I did some re-wordings and stripped/added some details that may only apply to my own cooking. If you wish to try the recipe, I would recommend getting the book. It is an amazing book with clear instructions and explanations.


1 teaspoon instant yeast

4 cups unbleached high-gluten/bread flour

2 ½ cups water, at room temperature


½ teaspoon instant yeast

3 ¾ cups unbleached high-gluten/bread flour

2 ¾ teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons malt powder
or 1 tablespoon  dark/light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar

To Finish:

1 tablespoon baking soda

Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting

Seeds – sesame, poppy, dried garlic/onions or kosher salt

Makes 12 large/24 mini

1.       To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking only until it forms a smooth, sticky butter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature approx. 2 hrs. , or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly.
I used bread flour and honey since those are the ones I have in hand.

2.       To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl, add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.

3.       Knead the dough to the counter for at least 10 min. by hand or 6 min. by machine.  The dough should be firm, stiff but still pliable and smooth. All flour should be hydrated. Add water/flour to adjust dryness or stickiness.


4.       Immediately divide the dough into 2.3-2.4 ounce pieces for mini bagels.

5.       Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approx. 20 min.


6.       Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and brush lightly with oil. Proceed on shaping the dough.

7.       Place each of the shaped pieces 2 in. apart on the pans.  Brush the bagels lightly with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap at room temp. for approx.  20 min.
On the book, they use a spray to mist the bagels with oil and I just used brush.

8.       Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the fridge by using Float Test. Fill a small bowl with cool/room temp. water. Take one bagel and test it. It should float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water.  If it floats, pat it dry and put it back on the pan and refrigerate overnight (max. of 2 days). If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof checking back every 10-20 minutes and retest.



9.       When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 500 deg. F with the 2 racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring large pot to a boil, add the baking soda.

10.   Drop as many bagels fit comfortably on the pot (they should float within 10 sec).  Boil bagels for 1 or 2 minutes per side (2 minutes for chewier bagels).  While bagels are boiling, sprinkle parchment paper with cornmeal/semolina.  Top bagels as soon as they come out of the water.
I put sesame seeds, kosher salt and crushed dried sliced garlic for the topping.

11.   When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the middle 2 oven shelves. Bake approx. for 5 minutes, then rotate pans halfway, switching shelves. After rotation, lower temp. to 450 deg. F and continue to bake for about 5 minutes or until bagels are light golden brown (approx. 15 min.).

12.   Cool them down, make the cream cheese spread and make sure you got a smoke salmon and last but not the least enjoy them!
I mixed oven dried tomatoes I’ve made before and low fat cream cheese for the spread.

For Cinnamon Raisin Bagels:

·         Increase yeast in the final dough to 1 teaspoon.

·         Add 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of sugar to the final dough.

·         Rinse 2 cups loosely packed raisins with warm water and add them during the final 2 minutes of mixing.

·         When they come out of the oven, you can brush them with melted butter and dip them in cinnamon sugar (optional)

I can’t say they taste like authentic since I used bread flour for high gluten flour and honey for malt powder but they are just like or maybe better bagels you can get from Einstein Bagels (a popular bagel chain here in the US). These bagels seem to stay soft longer than Einstein. These are not labor intensive at all. It takes a long process but I like it that you can prepare them the night before and just require about half an hour before you can enjoy fresh homemade bagels.

“Remember, man does not live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little buttering up.”
~John C. Maxwell



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