Thick with the right amount of chew, these easy homemade bagels are simple to make from scratch.
Are homemade bagels worth it? 100% yes. They are definitely worth the effort. They use a thick dough so it's easy to knead by hand, and it's fun to shape, poach and bake them! A stack of freshly baked bagels makes the BEST brunch.
Bagels should have a decent amount of toothsome chew to them. Flour with a higher protein level is required for the chew - a level between 11-13%. Some all-purpose flours have a protein level of over 11% in which case you can use that sort of all-purpose flour for homemade bagels. A higher protein level will give the best results.
It's best to check the protein level of each flour rather than going by the name of the flour.
Instant or active dried yeast can be used in this recipe. Whichever one you use, it needs to be viable. Usually, the instant yeast sachets are pretty full-proof, but sometimes active dried yeast can lose viability.
If using active dried yeast, activate it first in warm water. After 5 minutes the yeast should rise to the top and become foamy. This shows that the yeast is still alive. If it doesn't do anything, it's time for new yeast.
Or, if you want to use wild yeast you can make sourdough bagels instead!
Easy Bagel Dough
The dough in this bagel recipe is quite low hydration. This means there isn't a lot of liquid compared to flour. It makes a thick dough that is easy to work with and won't stick to your hands. It requires a little elbow grease to knead it, but put a few songs on while doing so and time will pass quickly!
Overnight Bagel Dough or Same Day Bagels
You have the choice here to chill the dough overnight in the fridge and shape and bake them the following day (for breakfast or brunch bagels!), or make and bake them in the same day.
An overnight chill (or even longer) gives the best texture and flavor, as well as giving some flexibility to when you want to bake them.
How to Shape Bagels
Cut the dough into 8 even pieces (a scale works well to ensure even bagels) and shape each piece into a ball. Let these dough balls rest for 5 minutes.
Using your thumbs, push a hole into the middle of the dough ball, then roll the dough ball around your fingers to widen the hole. Aim for a large hole as it will shrink back in size once it sits.
Place the shaped bagels on parchment paper and let them puff out a bit, for around 20-30 minutes while the oven preheats and a pot of water is brought to a boil.
Poaching the Bagels
Poaching the bagels in boiling water and honey prior to baking gives them a golden and chewy crust. Some bagel recipes are poached in a baking soda or lye solution.
However, baking soda gives the bagels more of a pretzel taste, and lye isn't always easy to find (or use). I much prefer honey.
After poaching, place the bagels on a baking tray and sprinkle with seeds (if using.)
Baking the Bagels
The bagels are baked initially in a very hot oven for a few minutes, then the temperature is turned down a bit to let them bake all the way through.
As the bagels come from the oven they will be very hard. Don't worry, they will soften as they cool.
Some brands of all-purpose flour have a protein level that's more than 11%. In this case, those brands of all-purpose could be used. However, a bread flour with higher protein levels will give the best chew.
If you make the initial holes too small when shaping the bagels, the dough will shrink back too much and you'll lose the bagel holes.
If the bagels were left to rise too long they may overproof and lose their structure, resulting in flat or deflated bagels.
Lack of gluten development (which could be a lack of kneading or a weak flour), can result in a rougher bagel crust.
This could be due to expired yeast or lack of proofing.
Spices can be added at the same time as the other ingredients. Larger additions such as dried fruits, nuts or seeds can be added at the end of the kneading period.
Between 8-24 hours.
Have you made this? Tag me and let me know!
- 240g warm water (95-104°F / 35-40°C)
- 1 ½ tsp instant yeast or active dried yeast
- 1 Tbsp soft brown sugar
- 450g bread flour (with a protein level of 11-13%)
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 2 litres water
- 1 Tbsp honey
- Sesame seeds for sprinkling
- In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast and brown sugar and stir it together. Leave it to sit for 5 minutes until foamy.
- Add the flour and salt and use a fork to combine everything into a rough dough. Switch to using your hands and push the dough together into a stiff, rough ball. Tip it into a clean bench.
- Knead the dough for around 10 minutes to develop the gluten. If you get tired, take a break and let the dough sit, then come back to it after a few minutes.
- Once kneaded, place it in a greased bowl. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
- Alternatively, if making same-day bagels, let the dough rise at room temperature for approximately 1 ½ hours until doubled in size, then move onto shaping the bagels.
Shaping the bagels
- Remove the dough from the fridge and pull it from the bowl onto a clean bench. Cut the dough into 8 even pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Let the dough balls rest for 5 minutes.
- Using your thumbs, push a hole into the middle of the dough ball, then roll the dough ball around your fingers to widen the hole. Aim for a large hole as it will shrink back in size once it sits.
- Place the shaped bagels on parchment paper and let them rise for around 20-30 minutes until puffed. Preheat the oven to 464°F/240°C regular oven, or 428°F/220°C fan-bake.
- Bring 2 litres of water to a boil and add in the honey. Keep the water at a rolling boil and drop in 2-3 bagels at a time. Poach each bagel for 1 minute (30 seconds on each side.)
- Use a slotted spatula to lift the bagels out and let them drain for a few seconds. Place them on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and sprinkle over any seeds for toppings whilst they are still sticky from the water.
- Place the poached bagels in the oven and let them bake for 4 minutes before turning the temperature down to 428°F/220°C regular oven, or 397°F/200°C fan-bake. Bake for a further 16-18 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove the baked bagels from the oven and let them cool and soften for 30 minutes before slicing.
Baked bagels can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to three months. If you slice them before freezing, the sliced halves can easily be defrosted in the toaster.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 240Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 450mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 8g