I’m happy to report that homemade bagels are not difficult to make and rival any New York bagel shop. Take my word for it—I’m from New York, the land of pizza and bagels! The dough is quick to put together and the shaping is easy, as the dough is noticeably stiff and can be stretched however you want. I highly recommend eating a warm, chewy, delicious sourdough bagel straight from the oven to experience its one-of-a-kind thin and crispy crust.
About the Dough: Bagels are all about technique, which is a two-step process. First, boil the dough to set the crust, which prevents the dough from rising too much. You can’t skip this step, but it’s easy—it’s just like boiling ravioli. Then bake the bagels for a nice golden crust. For timing, you can break up the process over two days. Make the dough on Saturday evening and allow it to rise overnight. On Sunday morning, shape, boil, and bake.
- Yield: 8 Bagels
- ¾ cup (150 g) bubbly, active starter
- 1 cup plus 2 tsp (250 g) warm water
- 2 tbsp (24 g) sugar
- 4 cups plus 2 tbsp (500 g) bread flour
- 1½ tsp (9 g) fine sea salt
- 1 tbsp (20 g) honey
- Cooking spray or oil, for coating
- Mixed seeds, such as poppy, sesame, fennel, flax, and sunflower
- A few days before baking, feed your starter until bubbly and active. Store at room temperature until ready to use.
- In a large bowl, whisk the starter, water, and sugar together with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Combine to form a rough dough, then finish mixing by hand to fully incorporate the flour. Because this dough is stiff, consider using a stand mixer to give your hands a break; run on low speed for 5 to 6 minutes to combine. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile, replenish your starter with fresh flour and water. Store according to preference.
- After the dough has rested, work the mass into a semi-smooth ball, about 15 to 20 seconds.
- Bulk Rise: Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise until double in size, about 8 to 10 hours at room temperature, 70°F (21°C).
- Shape: Line a sheet pan with a nonstick silicone mat or parchment paper. If using parchment, lightly coat with cooking spray or oil to prevent sticking.
- Remove the dough onto a non-floured work surface. Flatten the dough into a rectangle and divide into 8 equal pieces, about 115 grams (4 oz) each. Gather the ends, flip the dough over, and roll each piece into a ball. Let the dough rest on your sheet pan for 10 to 15 minutes to relax the gluten.
- Working with one ball of dough at a time, poke a hole straight through the center. Lift up the dough, insert both index fingers through the center hole, and barrel roll to gently stretch the opening to about the size of a walnut. When finished, place the dough back onto your sheet pan. It’s okay if the hole shrinks slightly. Repeat shaping the remaining dough.
- Second Rise: Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. The dough will puff up only slightly at this stage.
- Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the honey and whisk well to dissolve. Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Add the seeds to a rimmed tray or shallow bowl.
- Boil the bagels: Add 2 to 3 bagels into the pot and wait for them to float to the top, about 10 seconds, or they will float right away. Simmer for 30 seconds on each side for a thin crust. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bagels back the sheet pan you used earlier, placing them rounded side up. Once slightly cool but still wet, dip the rounded side of the bagels into the seeds to coat. Place back onto the sheet pan and finish boiling the rest of the bagels.
- Bake: Bake the bagels for about 20 to 25 minutes. Flip them over to briefly cook the bottom side, about 1 to 2 minutes or less. When ready, your bagels will be puffed up and light golden brown, and they will feel light to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, but indulge yourself and eat one (or two) warm.
- The chewy texture of bagels is best enjoyed when made fresh. Store in a plastic bag at room temperature for up to 2 days. Bagels also freeze well; freeze them whole or sliced, covered in plastic wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 3 months.