I don’t have a very compelling argument for making bagels at home. If you live in New York, amazing bagels are cheap and available. Making a good bagel at home requires buying two ingredients you probably don’t have, malt (malt syrup is available at Whole Foods and malt powder is available at King Arthur) and unbleached high gluten flour (available at King Arthur Flour). If you think you’re going to do most of the kneading in your Kitchen-aid. Wrong. That’s what I thought until the engine of my Professional Series 6 Quart started smoking, and then it took me about 20 minutes of heavy kneading. First I was cursing, then praying, then wishing I was stronger. Taller would have helped with more leverage over the strong dough. (Actually, it feels like some hunky biceps by the time it’s done.)

black sesame bagel with The Bread Baker's Apprentice 3

Depending on where you live, you might not be able to get a decent bagel though. Not convinced huh? Well, how about some classic Jewish mom guilt. Yom Kippur is just around the corner and since I enjoy the breaking of the fast, but don’t fast, I could tortuously make the bagels for everyone instead. It is easier than fasting.

If you do venture to make these bagels, this recipe, adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart, is really an excellent version, particularly the chewy dough beneath the tight skin. Lon thought the dough could have more flavor so for some maybe a tad more malt and a tad more salt, but if you’re going to add butter, cream cheese, lox, or whatever, you won’t notice.  I’m a native New Yorker, which means I am literally made of bagels. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood too (Forest Hills, Queens) which also explains why I always dated Jewish guys and am now married to one, but that’s a different story. (BTW, I’m Chinese.)

Black Sesame Bagel Sliced 2

The good news is that most of the work is done a day or two in advance so you could make it, leave it in the fridge, and just boil and bake the day you want it. Nothing beats that fresh bagel right out of the oven.

~12 bagels



  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups unbleached high gluten flour
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon malt syrup


  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
  • any toppings: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, etc.

Instructions –

1. Make the sponge by putting the flour in a large mixing bowl. Stir in yeast. Add water and stir until it’s a smooth and sticky batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in room temperature for about 2 hours, or until double in size.


2. To make the dough, stir in the additional yeast. Add 3 cups of the flour, salt, and malt. Stir until the ingredients form a ball. Slowly work in the remaining 3/4 cup flour. (Just forget about doing this in the stand-mixer unless you have an industrial one. I made a mess and nearly broke the engine.)

flour mess

3. Start kneading dough on the counter (it shouldn’t stick) and get ready for a fight. The dough is stiff but still pliable and should be smooth. If it’s sticky, add some more flour. If it’s too dry, add a few drops of water. Continue kneading until it passes the windowpane test and is between 77 and 81 degrees F. It took me a little over 20 minutes to finish. Divide the dough into 4.5 oz pieces and roll them into balls.

bagel dough

4. Cover the balls with a damp towel and rest for 20 minutes.

5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with a little oil. Poke a hole in the center of each dough ball and stretch the hole out to about 2.5″ diameter. Try to keep all parts of the dough even.

6. Lay the bagels on the prepared baking sheets and mist lightly with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.

retarded bagel dough

7. Check if the bagels pass the “float test” (by just testing one bagel). The float test refers to the bagels floating within 10 seconds of being dropped in cool or room temperature water. If it passes the float test, pat dry and return to the pan. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight (up to two days). If the bagel does not float, let it continue to proof (rest on counter) and check again in 10 to 20 minutes.

8. When you are ready to bake bagels, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with two racks set up in the middle of the oven. Bring two large pots of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to each pot. Have a spider ready.

9. Take the bagels out of the refrigerator, and drop three into each pot of boiling water. Boil for 1 minute and flip it over to boil for another minute. While bagels boil, sprinkle the parchment paper (the same one bagels were on in the fridge) with cornmeal or semolina flour. When bagels are done boiling, place them back on baking sheets and sprinkle with whichever toppings you like. (We did 3 black sesame, 3 sesame, 3 poppy seed, 2 kosher salt, 1 rosemary and kosher salt.) Repeat this process with the remaining 6 bagels. Boiling can be increased to two minutes per side if you want chewier bagels.

boiling bagel dough

10. Place the bagels in the middle of the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the pans 180 degrees and switch shelves. Lower the temperature to 450 degrees F and bake for another 5 minutes, or until light golden brown.

11. Remove bagels to a rack to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

torn sesame bagel

posted by jessica at 11:18 AM Filed under Bread, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.