Thick with the right amount of toothsome chew, this overnight bagel recipe makes the best homemade bagels.
Are homemade bagels worth it? 100% yes. They are definitely worth the effort. They use a thick, stiff 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. For the best flavor, make overnight bagels and let the dough chill in the fridge overnight. However, if you're in more of a hurry they can be made on the same day too.
Fresh, homemade bagels are something special. They're slightly dense, with a chewy crumb and a shiny exterior. They're great fresh or toasted, and make the best vessel for cream cheese, salmon, and avocado.
Season the outside of the bagels with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and more. There's nothing more satisfying than biting into a good bagel.
Bagels are made from lean dough, meaning there's no added fat to the dough. It's a very simple dough made with ingredients readily found in the pantry. You will need -
- lukewarm water
- dried yeast (instant or active dry)
- soft brown sugar
- strong all-purpose flour or bread flour
- honey (for poaching)
- seeds or seasonings for toppings
Bagels should have a decent amount of toothsome chew to them. Use a high-gluten flour for the classic bagel chew - flour with a protein level between 11-13%. This is best done with bread flour. 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 the protein in the flour that when mixed with water will form the gluten. It's best to check the protein level of each flour rather than going by the name of the flour.
Use instant or active dry yeast 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 a sourdough starter, you can make sourdough bagels instead!
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.
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 enough to work with as it won't stick to your hands, but it requires a little elbow grease to knead. Put a few songs on while doing so and time will pass quickly! It's a dough that is best worked by hand, as it can be a bit thick for some stand mixers. If you do choose to use a stand mixer, use a dough hook attachment at low speed.
The recipe below has provided the gram measurements as well as US cup measurements. For best results, weigh your ingredients in grams using a kitchen scale. Cup measurements are not consistent.
Overnight bagel recipe
You have the choice to give the dough an overnight rise in the fridge and shape and bake them the following day or make and bake them on the same day.
An overnight slow rise (or even longer) gives the best texture and flavor, as well as gives some flexibility to when you want to bake them. Place the dough in an oiled bowl or contained and covered with an airtight lid, plastic wrap, or a beeswax cloth. Let the dough rest in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
How to shape bagels
The next morning, pull the ball of dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces (a scale works well to ensure even bagels) and shape each piece into a ball. Let these dough balls rest for 10 minutes.
Using your thumbs, push a hole into the middle of the dough ball, then roll the dough ball around your fingers in a circular motion to widen the hole. Aim for a large hole as it will shrink back in size once it sits.
Place the shaped bagels on a prepared sheet pan lined with 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 in boiling water and honey prior to baking gives them a golden and chewy crust. A boiling step is a crucial step to making iconic new york city style bagels.
You could poach your bagels in a baking soda or lye solution, too but baking soda gives the bagels more of a pretzel taste, and lye isn't always easy to find (or use). Honey in the poaching liquid does an excellent job. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add in a tablespoon of honey. Keep the water at a rolling boil and poach 2-3 bagels at a time.
They don't need a long boiling time, only 30 seconds on each side. After poaching, remove the boiled bagels with a slotted spoon or spatula and place them on a baking tray and sprinkle with seeds or seasoning (if using.)
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. Place them on a wire rack to cool down.
Serving and storing
Bagels are delicious when served on the day they are made. Leftover bagels can be stored, and covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Bagels freeze very well too which will prolong their life. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen bagels at room temperature, in a toaster, microwave, or low-temperature oven.
- 250g warm water (95-104°F / 35-40°C)
- 1 ½ teaspoon instant yeast or active dried yeast
- 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
- 440g bread flour (with a protein level of 11-13%)
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 liters water
- 1 tablespoon 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 on to 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 10 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 428°F/220°C.
- Bring 2 liters 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 around 20-22 minutes until deep golden brown. If they are baking unevenly or your oven has hot spots, turn the oven tray around after 15 minutes of baking.
- 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.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 240Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 450mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 8g
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.