How to make: Bagels

bagels by rcakewalk, Flickr
bagels by rcakewalk, Flickr

Before I was a Chef de Partie, I thought making bagels was considerably more complicated than making a loaf of bread. Once I learned I found that it’s so easy.

bagels by rcakewalk, Flickr
bagels by rcakewalk, Flickr

When I make bagels I always seem to get more use out of them than if I make regular white rolls. Homemade bread doesn’t have additives in it and therefore only retains its freshness for about 24 hours. Bagels have a more solid texture to begin with that just doesn’t seem to deteriorate as quickly as loaf bread. I generally toast them before eating anyhow so I tend to get a few days out of them which comes in handy for school lunches. The interesting thing about bagels is that they are boiled before baking, giving them this heavy texture and unique shape. Heat kills yeast and so stops the respiration process, keeping the hula hoop shape of the dough intact and stopping the dough from rising further.

This recipe ostensibly makes 10 bagels but I like mine carb-heavy so I’d call it more like 6.

  • 7g dried yeast (one packet)
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 450g strong flour
  • optional – poppy seeds/whatever for the top

Put the yeast into a little warm water with the caster sugar and leave it for a few minutes to become frothy.

Put 200ml warm water into a bowl, sieve in the salt and half the flour. Stir it about while adding the yeast mixture and remaining flour. You want the dough to be soft but not wet so you might want to add a little more water or a little more flour. See how it goes yourself and adjust to touch.

Knead it for 10 minutes.

kneading by have you any wool?, Flickr
kneading by have you any wool?, Flickr

Leave it in an oiled bowl for an hour to prove in a warm place. I like to cover the dough lightly with cling film to stop the dough getting a crust where the air touches it. Just lightly press the clingfilm onto the dough so it still has the freedom to rise but is not really exposed to the open air.

On a lightly floured surface tip out the risen dough and separate it into however many bagels you want. Take each piece and knead it into a flattish ball that is smooth and has no wrinkles.

To make the bagel shape, take the end of a wooden spoon and stick it into the middle of each ball and swirl it about to create a hole in the centre. Get a pan of water on the boil while you’re doing this.

Put each bagel into the boiling water for 1-2 minutes before draining it and placing it onto a baking tray. Don’t put any more than 4 bagels into the pan at a time because they might get stuck together.

At this point you can garnish the tops of the bagels, then go ahead and bake them at 180 degrees for about 25mins.

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