home made bagels

Let’s make some bagels, can we? Yes we can! For starters, today is my birthday, and on my birthday we can do anything we want. We can eat cake for breakfast and bagels for lunch and because it’s my birthday the calories don’t count. Please remember that I have an actual degree in nutrition, so if I say it, it must be true. Bagels for everyone!

Also, it’s pretty easy to make your own bagels at home and you will impress yourselves and everyone who you hand a fresh home made bagel to. These bad boys have been on my culinary bucket list for eons, and I really don’t know why I thought that making them was so intimidating. Maybe because you have to boil them which means that there are, like, *two* steps to the bagel cooking process. But you’ve boiled things before, right? Pasta? Potatoes? Eggs? Boiling bagels is no big deal. 

I won’t lie, you need to set aside some time for bagel making, and, since they are best if they’ve been left to cure in the fridge overnight, you need to plan a little in advance. But, like boiling things, we plan ahead all the time, right? Hey, what are you doing tomorrow? Making bagels!

I got over my bagel baking fear when I saw that three of my favourite spaces on the internet had each posted a bagel recipe, all from the same source. Here, here, and here. Give them a read, they’ve got some good info. What I have posted here is the same recipe with some personal tips. The most important thing is for you to read the recipe from start to finish before you start. That way you’ll know you’re supposed to let the bagels sit on the counter for 20 minutes before you put them in the fridge, and you won’t be pulling chilled bagels out of the fridge in a mad panic and hoping you haven’t effed them up too badly (don’t worry, you won’t have). So go ahead, give it a good read, and then go get your bagel on. Happy birthday to me!

One year ago: Savoy Slaw

Home Made Bagels Recipe:

Recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

A note about flour – this recipe recommends high gluten bread flour. If you live in Canada your All Purpose flour has a much higher gluten content than does AP flour in other parts of the world, so you’re good to go. If you live in the US or in Europe the gluten content in AP flour is generally much lower and I would suggest getting a higher gluten flour or bread flour. If you’re in Sweden look for Special Vetemjöl, which has a higher gluten content than regular vetemjöl, or look for a bag of Manitoba Cream, which is a high gluten bread flour from Canada (what what!).

If you’re going to top your bagels with seeds or anything else you may want to consider adding an egg wash. I didn’t, and I lost a good amount of the seeds off of the tops. Next time I think I will try gluing the toppings down.

If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, this is a good place to use it. If you don’t, you’re going to get a nice forearm workout, this dough is stiff! But tough it out, the results will be well worth the effort.


For the sponge:

1 tsp instant yeast

4 cups high gluten or bread flour

2 1/2 cups room temperature water

For the dough:

1/2 tsp instant yeast

3 3/4 cups high gluten or bread flour, divided

2 3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp honey, molasses, or malt syrup (I used honey)

For finishing:

1 Tbsp baking soda

oil for the trays

desired bagel toppings


To make the sponge, in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and water into a wet, shaggy dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for 2 hours. The sponge should have about doubled in size and the surface should be covered in bubbles when it is ready.

In the same bowl add from the dough ingredients the yeast, 3 cups of flour, honey, and salt. Mix well. Now you’re going to knead in the remaining 3/4 cups of flour, a bit at a time. If you’ve got a mixer, run it on low with the dough hook and add the flour about 1/4 cup at a time, kneading well between additions. If you’re kneading by hand, you’ll want to knead it in a bit at a time, and don’t give up! We want to knead this dough for about 6 minutes by machine, or 10 by hand. The kneaded dough should feel soft and silky, and be pliable but not sticky.

Divide the dough into 16 even pieces – I weighed my dough with my kitchen scale, divided the number by 16, and then weighed the bits to ensure they were even. My dough bits were around 115 – 120g each. Form each piece of dough into a smooth ball and set it on the counter top. Cover the balls with a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel, and let rest for about 20 minutes.

Prepare your baking trays. Line two trays with parchment paper, and brush the parchment lightly with oil. When you are ready to start forming your bagels, take a dough ball and holding it with both hands, push your thumbs through the center. Work your hands around the dough with your thumbs on the inside and your fingers on the outside, widening the hole evenly. Place the formed bagel on the prepared tray, and repeat, ensuring you leave about 5cm between bagels. When all of the bagels are formed, brush them very lightly with oil and then cover lightly with plastic wrap (I used plastic shopping bags, two on each tray) and let them rest on the counter top for 20 minutes.

Now you’re ready to ‘retard’ your bagels. They should go into the fridge for at least 2 hours, but you can leave them for up to 48 hours. I left mine in the fridge over night.

Bagel baking time! Preheat your oven to 250 C / 500F. Fill your biggest, widest pot with water, and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling add 1 Tbsp of baking soda to the water. Now add bagels to the pot a few at a time. My largest pot was wide enough to accommodate 4 bagels at a time. Boil for 1 minute on each side (or, as I did, 2 minutes on each side for chewier bagels), then remove from the water with a slotted spoon and replace on the same oiled parchment lined tray that they came from. Repeat with all bagels. If you’re going to add toppings (I used a blend of sesame seeds and coarse salt) add them immediately when the bagels are removed from the water.

Place trays of boiled bagels into the preheated oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the trays both 180 degrees AND up to down if you’re baking more than one tray at a time. Bake for another 5 minutes. I needed to bake my bagels for an additional ten minutes (rotating again after 5 min) before they were browned to my satisfaction.

Remove bagels from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2012



  1. Cammy says

    While I’ve never made bagels, I have used the boiling step for making pretzels and it is so easy… You know I have to ask though, how do I make these babies whole grain? Just go straight across all-prupose to whole wheat or should I change liquid/kneading time etc.?

    • themuffinmyth says

      Of course I knew this question was coming… honestly, experiment. I wanted to try the recipe as is to start with to get a feel for the techniques and for how the dough should feel in my hands. I suggest you do the same (give them away if you don’t want a batch of non whole grain bagels kicking around) that way when you start blending in whole grain flours you will be able to feel if the texture of the dough is way off. When you do start blending whole grains I suggest you use a high gluten bread flour as opposed to all purpose and start adding whole grain bit by bit. My plan is to start conservatively and see how far I can push it. I’d also suggest adding the whole grain flour to the sponge portion so that it has a chance to soak up the liquid while the sponge ferments. Kneading time will likely have to increase, as will liquids, but tread carefully, change things out a bit at a time. I’ll be playing around with this recipe now that I’m comfortable with the techniques, and I’ll definitely post what I come up with.

  2. Meg says

    This is pretty exciting. I was thinking of maybe starting the bread you posted last week, but now I’m thinking bagels would be kickass. Yes, yeeesssss (insert evil laugh here) bagels! Happy birthday Katie!

  3. Leanne says

    Happy birthday to you!! I knew I needed a piece of chocolate cake today for a reason, so I’ll have one and toast to you. And way to go, tackling bagels– they’ve been on my culinary bucket list, too, but knowing that I needed to boil them was enough to make me not even read through a recipe. Until now. Yes, you are right, this needs to get done. My husband’s birthday is this weekend– maybe he’ll have fresh bagels on his big day, too : )

  4. Veronika says

    Those look great and yes, I have been thinking about making bagels and bialys for ages now, and it is the boiling which sort of deters me. But as I routinely bake bread with overnight fermentation, planning ahead is not a problem!

    Going to bookmark these and stick them on my list to make soon. Mmm, real bagels – have not had those since I moved from USA to Sweden, oh, years ago!


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