Homemade Bagels are soft, chewy, and only call for a handful of simple ingredients that you likely already have in the kitchen! Leave them plain or sprinkle on the sesame seeds – they’re delicious either way.
Next time you’re hosting a brunch party, surprise your friends with Homemade Bagels for the bragging rights alone! Not only can you boast that they really are made from scratch, but they’re also completely delicious. They’re soft, chewy, and can be topped off with whatever you want… Extra cream cheese for me, please!
It’s no secret that I love baking when the mood strikes. Cupcakes, cakes, muffins – my oven lives in a pretty constant state of preheating. As much as I love my sweeter dessert recipes, sometimes it’s nice to switch it up with recipes like Homemade Bagels. They’re totally plain, that way you can top them off however you’d like.
The outside of the bagels bake to the most delicious golden brown color while the inside stays white and oh so soft! There are quite a few steps to making these Homemade Bagels, but every single one of them is easy-peasy and worth the effort. Grab the cream cheese, butter, lox, or whatever else you like and dig into your new favorite bagels!
What You’ll Need:
For the bagels:
- Water – It needs to be warm.
- Maple Syrup – Try to make sure it’s real pure maple syrup.
- Active Dry Yeast – This is what allows the bagels to rise to the best shape.
- Bread Flour – Do not substitute this with another flour! Bread flour creates the signature chewy texture.
- Honey – I always try to use organic honey when I can.
- Baking Soda – This is what creates the golden color of the bagels. It’s an ingredient that can’t be left out or substituted!
- Egg Wash – One egg white mixed with a tablespoon of water is what you’ll need.
How to Make Homemade Bagels
For more detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post.
Activate the yeast. Whisk together the warm water, maple syrup, and yeast. Let it get foamy.
Make the dough. Whisk together the flour and salt. Pour in the yeast. Mix until a dough is formed.
Knead the dough. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead. Work in the flour.
Rest the dough. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour. Then punch it down and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
Form the bagels. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, shape each one into a ball, and create a hole in the middle of each ball.
Rest and prepare the water bath. Place the bagels on a prepared baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Rest for 10-15 minutes while you boil the water, honey, and baking soda.
Boil the bagels. Boil the bagels in batches for about 2 minutes.
Bake the bagels. Place the bagels back on the baking sheet, brush them with egg wash, desired toppings, and bake for 20 minutes at 425°F.
Is it really important to use bread flour? Bagels require a high protein flour to achieve that chewy bagel texture. You can use all purpose flour, but keep in mind that the texture will be different. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup, and level it off, do not scoop it into the measuring cup or you will use too much flour and the dough will be heavy and dry.
I don’t have any maple syrup – what should I use? You could use 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar (this is preferable for the taste) or 1 Tablespoon of white sugar.
What are some toppings I could add before baking? You could use sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, coarse salt or garlic. Trader Joe’s and many other grocery stores sell everything bagel seasoning now so you can sprinkle that on! You can also do cinnamon sugar but I would brush the bagel with butter while it’s warm and then sprinkle it on.
Can I add raisins or dried cranberries into the dough? Sure, at the end of the kneading process, that is when I’d sprinkle them in.
What are some things that are nice to serve with these bagels? Butter, jam, cream cheese (or flavored cream cheese), cheese, egg, lox, avocado, or cinnamon sugar.
Can I make the dough ahead of time? Yes, you may make the dough (up to step 5 below), and then instead of putting it somewhere warm, place the covered dough into the fridge. When you remove the dough from the fridge, allow an hour for it to come to room temperature, punch it down, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then move right into shaping the bagels. Or, you may freeze the dough for up to 3 months. Then, allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge. When you remove it from the fridge, allow an hour for it to come to room temperature, punch it down, let it sit for 10 minutes, then move into shaping the bagels.
Can I skip the boiling step? Nope. You will not get the bagel taste and texture without boiling the bagels.
When I add the bagels to the water, it bubbles over – am I doing something wrong? No, just turn the heat down a little bit.
How do I store extra bagels? Place the bagels in an airtight container (or wrap them well) and store at room temperature for a few days, or in the fridge for up to a week. Bagels may be frozen for up to 3 months.
A quick tip on freezing: I like pre-slicing them and then wrapping them individually to freeze. That way, when you take them out of the freezer, you can just let them thaw for about 5 minutes and each side easily comes apart. It’s so much harder to heat through an entire frozen bagel than it is two individually sliced pieces!
More breakfast favorites!
- 1 ½ cups (355 ml) warm water
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 envelope of active dry yeast, (¼ ounce, 2¼ teaspoons)
- 4 ¼ cups (531 g) bread flour, divided – save ¼ cup for kneading later
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 8 cups (2 l) water
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Egg wash: 1 egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water
- Place the warm water into a small bowl. Whisk in the maple syrup. Then sprinkle on the yeast and give it a gentle stir. Allow this to sit for 5 to 10 minutes to activate the yeast. It should get foamy. If it doesn’t, your water may have been too cold, or too hot. Or your yeast may have expired.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together 4 cups of flour and 2 teaspoons of salt. Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer.
- Pour the activated yeast mixture into the middle of the bowl with the flour/salt mixture.
- Mix this on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated. Then mix on medium speed for another 5 minutes, or until the dough is moist and firm. If you find that the dough is too dry, try adding 1 Tablespoon of water at a time.
- Then remove the dough from the mixer and place it on a floured surface (use the remaining ¼ cup we had set aside). And knead the dough until it is moist and firm (this will take 3-5 minutes more), working in the remaining ¼ cup of flour as you are able to.
- Form the dough into a ball and place it into a bowl greased with the 1 teaspoon of oil (roll the ball of dough around so it is covered in the oil). Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place it somewhere warm. Allow the dough to rise for an hour or until about double in size.
- Then punch down the dough and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Divide the dough evenly into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, and press your finger into the middle to make a hole about 2 inches in diameter.
- Place the formed bagels onto a baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Allow these to rest for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the water bath.
- Put the water, honey, and baking soda into a large pot. Bring it to a boil.
- Preheat the oven to 425 °F (218 °C).
- Boil 2 bagels at a time (if you are able to do this without crowding). You want to boil them on one side for 1 minute, then flip them and boil for another minute. You could flip them using a slotted spoon.
- As you remove the bagels from the boiling water, place them on the parchment paper lined baking sheet (4 per sheet).
- Brush each bagel lightly with the egg wash. (This is the time to add toppings such as sesame seeds or coarse salt or everything bagel seasoning, if you like.)
- Bake the bagels for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Then remove them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely before cutting.
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