Foodieobsessed's Blog


In my home town we had a local bakery that specialized in bagels. My Aunt happened to work there for about a year when I was twelve and she would get the “left overs” at the end of the day and many of those made their way to our kitchen. These bagels were chewy, delicious, and begging to be smothered in cream cheese (because really, bagels are mostly a conveyer belt for that right?). I remember trying every of their fourteen or so varieties and my absolute favorites were Scored Garlic (parmesan, tons of garlic, parsley) and Sesame Seed. I also love a good Everything Bagel.

Home made bagels is an extremely daunting task in theory. What you say? I have to make the dough ahead of time? Boil them? Bake them? Top them?

I know, I know. In this busy world you can buy a bag of bagels for a small amount at the grocery store but the difference between a bag of bagels and home made with love bagels is galaxys apart. I live in rural Northern California so I don’t have access to my beloved fresh bagel shop or the delicious bagels from New York or New Jersey.

These are pretty darn good if I do say so myself–I don’t make them often because of the process but boy when I do!

I use Peter Reinhart’s bagel recipe from “Bread Bakers Apprentice” with a couple of changes that I found make it easier for me.

Peter Reinhart’s Bagels
Yield: 12 bagels or 18 mixed bagels (some small, some big)

1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cups unbleached bread flour

2 cups unbleached AP flour (originally calls for all bread flour, but I used AP and they turned out great!)
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour (I used AP)
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon honey

To Finish
1 tablespoon baking soda

Cornmeal for dusting

Topping: I used both a knock off “scored garlic” topping I made with 1 cup parmesan cheese and 1 TBS garlic powder and a few cracks of black pepper, as well as sesame seeds, and coarse salt.

1. Day one: To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients for a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough. (I found it impossible to mix this dough in the mixer–you really need to use some man power for this one kids!)

3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 71 degrees F. If the dough seems to dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

This is where my recipe deviates from Peter’s. . . .

4. Place into an oiled bowl and cover with a damp paper towel or cling wrap. Place in the fridge and let set over night.

5. In the morning when you wish to make the bagels remove dough from fridge at least 2 hours before you begin and let the dough come to room temperature.

6. Divide the dough into 4 1/2 ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired (I did 1/2 4.5 ounces and 1/2 2.5 ounces to have some smaller options). Form the pieces into rolls. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

7. Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Proceed with shaping. Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter (half of this for the smaller bagelsl). The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots.)

8. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature while preparing water and oven.

9. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

10. Remove the bagels pans and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minutes flip them over rand boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you decide to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.) If you want to top the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water. You can use any of the suggestions in the ingredients list or a combination.

11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450 degrees F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.

12. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.


These turned out great. I took a little of the perfect science out of Peter’s original fabulous recipe and changed the order of things a little bit to make them more friendly to my Sunday baking. It is of course completely up to you (just google Peter Reinhart Bagels to get the original recipe) but I could not taste a difference.

My favorite were of course the cheese topped bagels! Though the salt and sesame are delicious. Be careful with the salt bagels–they need to be eaten within the first two days because the salt will whick away any texture to your bagel.




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