Bagel recipe….and a great arm workout

BagelsI have been naïvely promising my other half that I would make him some homemade bagels. How hard could it be? Ha! Well now I know. The end product was both pleasing to the eye and taste buds, but holy cow was it a lot of work. I started with a recipe I had seen on Smitten Kitchen’s website (and halved the recipe) on Saturday morning and after a long evening out was rudely awoken at 7am Sunday without so much as a cup of tea by a husband muttering, you said you would make bagels.

So I was off to the kitchen to complete the process. To be honest, the bulk of the work is kneading the really stiff dough and forming the bagels and proofing them the day before. This morning was the boiling and baking of said bagels. I opted this time for plain bagels with a bit of sea salt on top, next time I will invest in a dough hook and will make cinnamon raisin bagels.

Even with all the work, they were leagues better than any bagel I have been able to find anywhere in the UK as yet. I cannot comment on the bagels made in Brick Lane in London (I have heard they are amazing), but I can say with clear conscience, that these are excellently chewy bagels.

I made 2 types of quick flavoured cream cheeses, both of which were well worth the quick amount of time they took.

Vanilla nut cream cheese

  • 2 Tablespoons light cream cheese (I use philadelphia)
  • Dash vanilla extract
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 3 pecans finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Stir all ingredients together and away you go. Will keep for a few days in the fridge

Veggie cream cheese

2 Tablespoons light cream cheese
1 T Julienned carrot, finely chopped
1 T Finely chopped mild onion (or spring onion, chives)
Tiny pinch of sea salt and pepper

Stir all ingredients together and serve. Will keep for a day or so in the fridge.

So my first foray in the baking bagels has been successful, thankfully as it was a lot of work and I would definitely try these again.

Bagel Recipe

Serves 6-7
Prep time 3 hours
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 3 hours, 10 minutes
Allergy Wheat
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Bread, Breakfast, Lunch, Snack
Misc Freezable
Region American
Website Smitten Kitchen
These bagels have a lovely golden chewy exterior and a lovely soft interior.


  • 1/2 teaspoon Instant yeast
  • 2 cups High gluten or strong bread flour
  • 1 1/4 cup Water (room temperature)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Instant yeast
  • 1 3/8 cups cup High gluten or strong bread flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon Honey (or malt syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon Bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Polenta/cornmeal (for dusting the trays)


I made this entire recipe by hand, I do *not* recommend this unless you want quite an arm workout. This dough is really stiff and not like making normal bread as it takes a lot of kneading.


Step 1
Day one: To make the sponge use the first 3 ingredients. Stir the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, stirring only until the the mix becomes smooth and sticky. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours when the mixture should have become very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop. As my house is fairly cold, I had to put my mixture near the radiator.
Step 2
To make the dough use the same mixing bowl. Add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Now add all but 1/2 cups of the additional flour and all of the salt and honey. Stir in, or mix on a low speed with the dough hook, until the ingredients form a ball. Then add in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour to stiffen the dough.
Step 3
Lightly oil your counter top and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes if using a machine). The dough should be quite firm and smooth. All flour should be fully incorporated and the dough should not be crumbly or dry (or you should add a few drops of water and keep kneading). If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The finished dough should feel smooth and pliable and should not be tacky.
Step 4
Now divide the dough into 4.5 ounce pieces for standard bagels, this wil make 6 or 7 or smaller if desired using a scale. Form into round balls and place on a baking parchment lined baking tray and cover immediately with a damp tea/dish towel so that the dough does not form a skin. Allow to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
Step 5
Poke a hole in the center of the ball and roll around your index finger ensuring the whole is about 2 inches wide and the bagel is even all around.
Step 6
On baking parchment lined baking trays, mist lightly with oil spray and place bagels on the trays about 2 inches apart. Mist lightly with oil spray, cover with cling film/plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes.
Step 7
Check to see if the bagels are ready to be placed in the refrigerator by checking to see if 1 of the bagels float in water. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be refrigerated when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to rest the dough, for another 10 - 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. Again once ready place the covered trays in the refrigerator.
Step 8
When you are ready to bake the bagels, preheat the oven to 230 C/210 fan assisted/500 degrees F with the oven racks set in the middle of the oven. At the same time bring a large pan of water to the boil, adding the baking soda which will bubble up.
Step 9
Take the bagels from the refrigerator and gently put them into the water (only placing in as many as fit the pan without overlapping). After 2 minutes flip them over and boil for an additional 2 minutes (do not overcook). Sprinkle the parchment-lined sheet pans with polenta/cornmeal. If you are using any toppings, then add them when you take the bagels out of the water and are still damp. Sesame seeds or sea salt are nice options.
Step 10
Post boiled bagel
When all the bagels have been boiled and placed on the baking trays, place them in the over and bake for approximately 5-7 minutes, then rotate the trays and swap shelves rotating the trays 180 degrees. Now lower the oven temp by 20 degrees C/50 degrees F and continue baking for approximately 5 minutes, or until they have reached a deep golden brown.
Step 11
Remove the bagels to a cooling rack and cool for 30-60 minutes.