Homemade Bagels

I’ve lived in Seattle for over three years, and while I love this city, I just have to say: Seattle has a bagel problem.  Having moved here from New York City (by way of San Francisco, fine), I admit my standards are high, but Seattle, come on!  Get your bagel game together.

I’m looking for a New York style bagel.  A bagel bagel.  I don’t want one of these “Montreal-style” shenanigans.  I’m looking for a bagel that’s bigger than my fist, one with a chewy crust (with just a bit of crackle), and a crumb that’s tender but not overly doughy.


In my dreams, I open up a wildly successful bagel shop here in Seattle.  We sell hot, fresh bagels, plain and flavored cream cheese, and lox on lox on lox.  Also maybe some black and white cookies, because I miss those, too.  Side of fresh OJ and coffee with extra cream?

It’s a nice dream.  Until then, these homemade bagels will have to do.

Homemade Bagels

Adapted from Peter Reinhart


For dough:

  • 2 tablespoons barley malt syrup (can substitute honey)
  • 2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups lukewarm water (it should feel just warm to the touch)
  • 7 cups bread flour

For poaching liquid:

  • 2 to 3 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons barley malt syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • poppy seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • dried minced onion, rehydrated in a small bowl of water
  • cream cheese and lox (psh, obviously)


Make the dough:

Stir the barley malt syrup (or honey), yeast and salt into the lukewarm water.

Place the flour into the bowl of an electric mixer (or into a mixing bowl, if working by hand) and pour the water/yeast mixture on top.  Using the dough hook on the lowest speed (or using a sturdy wooden spoon), mix for about 5 minutes, until the dough is well blended and forms a smooth, barely tacky ball that pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl (if you’re working by hand, remove the dough from the bowl once it forms a rough ball, and continue kneading by hand on a very lightly floured work surface until you get that satiny consistency).

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover it tightly with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight.

Shape the dough:

Before shaping, line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper, and lightly spray the paper with baking oil (Pam, etc.).  Turn the dough out of the bowl (on an un-floured surface) and divide it into 12-13 equal pieces (I like to make my bagels about 115 grams each, if we’re going to get real precise about it).

On an un-floured surface, use a cupped (un-floured) hand to roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball.  Then, shape into bagels: roll each ball into a rope (about 8-inches) with tapered ends.  Place one end of the dough in the palm of your hand and wrap the rope around your hand to complete the circle.  The ends should overlap by about 2 inches. Squeeze the overlapping ends together by closing your hand, then press the seam into the work surface, rolling it back and forth a few times to seal. Remove the dough from your hand, squeezing it to even out the thickness, and creating a hole of about 2 inches in diameter.

Place the shaped bagels on the prepared sheet pans (6 or 7 per pan), spacing them evenly apart.  Mist them with baking oil and cover with plastic wrap.  Let the bagels rest at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, then boil and bake.  (While the bagels rest, rehydrate your dried onions in a bit of water, if you plan to make onion bagels.)

Boil and bake:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Add the water to a large pot, and place the pot on the stove over high heat (the water in the pot should be at least 4-inches deep.)  Cover, bring to a boil, then remove the lid and lower the heat to a lively simmer.  Add the malt syrup, baking soda and salt, and stir to combine.

Gently lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid, adding as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. They should all float to the surface within 15 seconds. After 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to turn each bagel over. Poach for another 30 to 60 seconds, then use the slotted spoon to transfer it back to the pan, domed side up. (It’s important that the parchment paper be lightly oiled, or the paper will glue itself to the dough as the bagels bake.) While the bagels are still wet from their poaching bath, sprinkle on a generous amount of toppings (and in the case of the onions, press gently to adhere).

Place the bagels in the oven and immediately lower the heat to 450 degrees F.  Bake the bagels, rotating the pans midway through baking, until deeply golden brown, 15-20 minutes.

Cool the bagels on a wire rack for about 3o minutes before slicing, spreading with schmear and serving.

Bagels are best on the day they’re made, but if you have extras they hold up well (pre-sliced) in the freezer.  Just toast them directly from frozen and serve.

Makes 12-13 bagels.

Join the Conversation


  1. Would it be wrong to make that picture of the lox and bagels my screen saver?

    I’ve never made bagels (or any type of bread for that matter) — would be fun to give it a try though.

  2. These looks delicious! You ought to try Eltana Bagels – different but still really yummy! 🙂

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