Bagels … Done Right!

May 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Well, I finally did it. I tried a complicated food that has intimidated me for years. And it wasn’t that hard after all. In fact, although my oven is stupid and I didn’t exactly follow instructions, what I got was deli-worthy bagels which are both cheap and healthy(ish). Go figure! The bagels here come out chewy because of the water bath – so if you’re not a fan of jewish-style bagels, these are not the recipe for you. I gave them an A+ for taste and myself a B- for evenly-rounded and normal looking. Ha! Apparently making perfectly round bagels is an acquired skill. Anyhow, I got this recipe from Melinda Lee and it was worth the effort. I tried to take step-by-step photos for this but missed a few b/c I was up to my elbows in flour. I will try to add them as I re-make the recipe in the future. Cost analysis and calorie information after the recipe.

Without further ado, here they are:

3 1/2 cups bread flour (I ended up using about 3 3/4 cups b/c it was raining and the dough was really sticky)
2 packages yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees)
3 quarts water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg white – beaten with 1 teaspoon water

In your mixer bowl, combine 3 cups of the bread flour and all the remaining dry ingredients (I use the “Stir” function for this). It’ll look like this:

Mixed Dry Ingredients

Next, get your hot water ready. I just use the tap water on full-hot, but I check it with a digital instant-read thermometer until it is over 120 degrees (but not over 130 degrees unless you want to kill your yeast and make crackers instead):

Correct Water Temperature

Pour the hot water into your dry ingredients and stir on low speed (mixer setting 2 or 3) for about two minutes. Add the remaining flour a little at a time, stirring constantly (again the “Stir” function). The batter should become thick and heavy and begin to stick to itself.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface (I use the top of my dishwasher). It should look like this:


Knead vigorously for 10 minutes (using the standard ram’s head, push-turn-fold technique) until the dough is smooth and firm if you pinch it. Add flour as needed throughout. It should look like this when you’re done:


Next, spray a large ceramic mixing bowl with cooking spray (I use PAM Organic Olive Oil). Place the dough inside, turning it over once to coat it, and cover the whole thing with a cotton towel. (The original recipe calls for plastic wrap, but I hate it and I prefer to cover the bowl with a clean, lint-free towel instead.) Place it in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size. Because I keep our house pretty cool, I use the oven. Turn it on to 350 for about 1 minute, then turn it off and place the bowl inside. It will rise perfectly in about an hour.

Toward the end of the rise, put 3 quarts of water into a large pot and bring it to a vigorous boil. When it reaches full boil, add the sugar and stir, then turn it down to a very low simmer. The water should be just barely moving.

When the dough has completed the first rise, turn it out onto your floured work surface and punch it down using a flat hand to remove excess gas. Mine usually ends up looking like a pizza crust by the time I’m done. Next comes the part that is the hardest for me. Divide the dough into 10 parts and form each one into a ball. Allow them to rest for a few minutes, then flatten them with the palm of your hand.

Take the flat dough-ball and push a hole into the middle (as close as possible to exact). It is important to make the hole larger than you think is actually necessary due to re-rising. I learned this lesson the hard way. Put the dough over your finger and spin it rapidly in a circle until you can fit it around your hand. That’s about the right size. When you have completed all 10 bagels, cover with wax paper and allow them a half-rise (about 10 minutes or even a little less).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. You may also want to coat a pan with a lint-free dishtowel to drain the bagels onto. At the end of the second rise, place the bagels into the simmering water two at a time. Turn them over after 30 seconds (or so) and then remove them from the water and onto your prepared dish towel at the one minute mark. Give them a few seconds to drain, then move them to your prepared baking sheet. Repeat this process until you have water-bathed the whole batch. They will be shiny because of the sugar in the water and will look like this:

Almost ready

Next, brush the tops of all the bagels with the prepared egg white mixture. You can also flip them over and do the bottoms, but to be honest, I tried this the first time around and I didn’t like the bottom of my bagel with that texture.


After you brush with egg whites, you are finally ready to bake! The original recipe says to turn them over when the tops have lightly browned to prevent the bottom from being flat, but you don’t have to unless you want to. (Plus, I can’t open my oven that often without screwing the cooking process all up.) So I didn’t. Bake for 25-30 minutes, then remove onto a wire rack to cool. The finished product will look like this:


As you can see, my oven doesn’t cook evenly. It came with the apartment, I can’t help it. But the results? Delicious!!

Makes 10 bagels, about 187 calories each.

Bread flour (approx 4 cups = 1.12 lb) – $0.37 (I buy 25 pound bags of bread flour at Sam’s Club)
Yeast (2 packets = .5 oz) – $0.19 (I buy yeast in 1 pound packages from King Arthur Flour)
Sugar (4.5 tablespoons = 2.25 oz) – $0.07 (I buy 10 pound bags of sugar at Sam’s Club)
Salt (1 tablespoon = 1 oz) – $0.04 (Regular 26oz round container of Morton from IGA)
Egg (1 large) – $0.05 (Eggs are currently about $0.60 a dozen here)
TOTAL: $0.72

Yes, you read that right. It costs less than a dollar, not including energy and time, to make 10 delicious bagels. That’s $0.07 a piece. Just saying, but that’s ridiculously cheap.



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  1. OMG, they look great! It’s making me want a bagel now.

  2. Those look so good, you are making my tummy rumble.

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