Making your own Bagels

I love making bagels. What I’m looking for is a chewy dough that’s not too dense. Bagels are poached briefly in simmering water before they are baked- this gives them their shiny crust and dense texture. It can be tricky shaping them. I find it works best to roll the dough out into a long sausage shape and then bring the two ends together, making sure the join doesn’t come apart by wetting both ends with a little water. Putting the dough in the fridge over night or for up to 3 days, can help to create a more chewy and interesting bagel. I also like to add a little rye flour for texture, colour and flavour. It can seem quite complicated because of the shaping and poaching – but once you’ve done it a couple of times you realise its quite straightforward. As with all bread making, you also need to experiment with timing so that you find a way to make it fit in with your life, and because you can put the dough in the fridge and take it out when you are ready, this can work well.  This recipe is adapted from  Peter Rhienhart’s book, ‘Artisan Breads Every Day’. This is a great book, which is very straightforward. I would also recommend his ‘Bread Baker’s Apprentice’, which is a classic for any aspiring baker.

Do try making these  and let me know how you get on.


1tsp diastatic malt powder (you can order this from ‘Bakery Bits’ on line, if you’re in the UK)  or honey will do

1 tsp instant dried yeast (this comes in small packets-don’t use the type that you have to activate first in water, make sure the packet is not past its due date)

1 1/2  tsp salt

I cup +3or4 tblespoons of lukewarm water ( I use American cups)

3 cups white bread flour

½ cup of rye flour (or you can just do 3 ½ cups of white flour)

Poaching water

fill a very large saucepan with boiling water

1 tablespoon of barley malt syrup or honey (optional)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Topping of your choice

Sesame seeds,  poppy seeds, rock salt.

You will also need baking parchment

Making the Dough

Put the flours, salt, yeast and malt powder (or honey) in a large bowl and mix.

Add the water and stir with a large spoon so that most of the flour is hydrated.

Start kneading in the bowl and then turn out and knead on a work surface for 10 minutes. You want the dough to be stiff but not dry, and be a little tacky but not sticky.

Leave the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warmish place ( room temperature in a warm kitchen will do)

At this point I often put the dough in the fridge overnight or longer (up to 3 days should be fine) I take it out of the fridge and let it warm up for about 1 ½ hours before shaping it. But you can start shaping at this point. I think  you get a chewier bagel if you leave the dough in the fridge.

When I was making them this weekend, I shaped and then baked half the mixture straight away and then put the rest in the fridge and then baked another batch the next day. That way everyone  gets to eat freshly baked bagels, when they are at their best.

Getting the Poaching water ready

When you are ready to shape the bagels get the poaching water ready.  Fill your casserole with plenty of hot water and add the barley malt syrup and bicarb.

Then pre-heat the oven to 245 degrees C

Shaping the bagels

Take roughly half the dough out of the bowl, and then divide that in half.

Take one of these halves and roll into a fat sausage and divide into three.

Take each third in turn and roll and stretch into a thin sausage about 22cm long, then wet both ends with a little water and bring the ends together and roll/ press the join together.

Place on a baking sheet that is lined with lightly oiled baking parchment, shiny side up (for some reason greaseproof paper doesn’t work very well- as it tends to stick). Then cover with a floured piece of cling film.

Roll all your bagels (12 in all, I like this size, but bagels are often a little larger, so if you like them larger then you could divide into 8 or 6 instead)


Now for the fun part- poaching and sprinkling

Your shaped bagels need to rise for about 20-30 mins, but the time it takes for them to be ready can vary. To see if your bagels are ready to poach, fill a medium bowl with cold water and if your bagels look a little puffy, then put one of them in the water- if it floats, you are ready. Otherwise wait another 10 minutes and try again.

Make sure your poaching water is at a simmer, then gently put your bagels in to the water just under a minute ( I do this 6 at a time) then with a slotted spoon, flip them all over and leave for just under a minute.

Take them out and put them on lined baking trays and sprinkle to your hearts content with whatever you fancy for a topping. I sprinkled mine with sesame seeds and rock salt.



Once all 12 are done make sure your oven has reached 245 degrees  and put them in for 6 minutes. Check them in case they are browning too fast,  it’s a good idea to rotate the baking trays at this point. Turn down the oven to 225 degrees and bake for another 5 minutes until they are golden brown, and have made a good crust on the bottom.

Then cool on a wire wrack.

These were the first 6, which I  baked immediately


And these are the next 6 that I baked after the dough had been chilled


I like them the classic way with smoked salmon and cream cheese- but they are also delicious toasted with jam and butter


Hope you enjoy making them. Do let me know how you get on and I’ll be happy to answer any questions if you are not sure about something.


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6 responses to “Making your own Bagels”

  1. kathiehp says :

    Reblogged this on kathiescakes and commented:
    A fantastic introduction to bread-making

  2. kathiehp says :

    Can’t wait to try this!

  3. lisathorpeartist says :

    Hey Lucy, I’m so glad you turned me on to your blog and thanks for the encouragement on mine. I can’t wait to try the bagels. I remember when we visited a few years back that you did some baking in a ceramic bowl, am I remembering right? I’d love to see a blog post on that! ps> I’m a new follower!

    • carlmarksfamily says :

      Hi Lisa, great to hear you want to try the bagel recipe. Yes I still bake using a ceramic lidded baking dish, called a La Cloche, but you can use a Le Creuset Caserole dish if you have one. Look forward to hearing how you get on.

  4. Stephanie says :

    I love bagels. Surprisingly they are a little hard to find in the area where I live (Brisbane, Australia) so I should try to make them myself. Thanks for sharing this great recipe!

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