April 29th, 2008

building a better bagel


above: everything you need to make the perfect bagel (sort of). i’m no bagel snob, but i do enjoy a really good toasted bagel with butter (oddly enough, i didn’t eat cream cheese until high school. i know, it’s weird). i’m also not from nyc, so i’ve probably got a distorted view of what makes a good bagel. i’ve only got childhood experience with local pennsylvania bagel shops to go on, but i like to think that the pennsylvania dutch touch found its way into many of those places, and those guys knew what they were doing.


in college, one of my roommates (hi jenn) worked at a walkathon for some good cause. she ended up coming home with something like 100 leftover bagels that we needed to get rid of. so began the great bagelthon of 2004. we had a contest to see who could eat the most bagels until they were all gone. no rules. i was eating like 10 a day (seriously), which, for future reference, is not actually beneficial to your health. for the record, i won bagelthon. oh yes, i won.


above and below you can see my standing mixer, which is not a kitchenaid, but a sunbeam. i love it with all my heart. i’m a recent convert to standing mixers, having pretty much baked and cooked everything in the past 10 years with a glass bowl and wooden spoon.


when i formed the bagels and and boiled them, a bunch of the ends came undone so i was left with croissant shaped bagel thingers. next time i’ll do make more by flattening the dough balls and punching a hole in the middle with my thumb.


i’ll be enjoying these for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next few days (or for as long as i can withstand this constant bageling). enjoy!



CHOW’s bagels from the CHOW.com “perfect bagel” project

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
2 Tbsp malt syrup
2 tsp salt
4 tsp sugar
1 egg white (for egg wash)
sesame and poppy seeds for topping

1. dissolve yeast in 1 1/2 cups of warm water and set aside.

2. combine the flour, malt syrup, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the yeast and mix on low.

3. mix until dough becomes shredded (2-3 minutes) and increase speed until the dough becomes smoother (8 min more).

4. shape the dough into a ball and put into a greased bowl covered with a damp towel to rise for about 20 min. the dough will not double in size, but should rise a bit and become more elastic.

5. heat the oven to 425 F and fill a large, shallow pan (i used a 9×13 cake pan) with water, 2 Tbsp malt syrup and a pinch of salt. put the pan on the range and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

6. divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into a 9″ long rope. join the ends of the rope to form the bagel. You can also make the dough into a flattened ball and punch a hole into the center with your thumb to make the correct shape. cover the newly formed bagels with a damp towel and let them rest for 10 min. place a wire rack on a baking sheet to prepare for the next step.

7. the bagels will have expanded just a bit after the rest, so you can stretch them a bit to keep the hole about the size of a quarter. boil the bagels 2 or 3 at a time, about 30 seconds on each side. i used two spatulas to flip them as tongs tended to put too much pressure on the dough. place the boiled bagels on the wire rack to let them drain.

8. create a simple egg wash with 1 egg white and about 1 Tbsp water. brush the bagels with the egg wash and coat with your favorite toppings. space the bagels about 1″ apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pan about 15 minutes in. when done, the bagels should have a rich caramel color and a hearty crust.

9. let the bagels cool untouched for at least 30 minutes before toasting or eating. i had one about an hour after baking and it was great. the one i had the next morning was even better.

6 Comments for building a better bagel - why not leave some love?

  1. Lil'Bee says:


  2. Kim says:

    I am impressed! When I go visit my family in New England in a few weeks, I am going to try these with my dad who does the bread baking in the house. Nothing like a good bagel.

  3. Susan says:

    i am a bagel lover as well. although, if i’d eaten 10+ bagels a day, i may be a little less in love with them. 🙂

    i had the same problem with my bagels – the ends coming apart. but yours look much better than mine did. if you want a good laugh, check this out: http://sweetnsavory.wordpress.com/2008/04/21/the-ugliest-bagels-youve-ever-seen/

  4. PJ Hamel says:

    Pete, thanks for using our good King Arthur bread flour! Those bagels look awesome, and the photography on your home page is BEAUTIFUL – love the sunlit look. Cheers! – PJ Hamel, King Arthur Flour test baker

  5. Beatrice says:

    My mom used to make bagels when I was a kid. I’ve never known anyone else who made their own bagels!

    I am having fond homemade bagel memories now…

  6. Dave from PA says:

    Awesome site and great looking bagels. I’ve been looking for a good bagel recipe to try, and I think this might be it. Also, always nice to see another guy that isn’t afraid to admit he likes to bake. I’ve been really into “real” sourdough breads lately myself. I’m anxious to try these bagels though. Keep up the good work.

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