Britta’s Bagels

First off, a former tour guide extraordinaire I worked with and current baking/pastry master of deliciousness is gearing up to start pastry school.  You can definitely look forward to lots of good posts from her in the future over at ARoseBakes.

Last week as I took the last quarter of my sourdough loaf out of the freezer to eat I realized that I would soon need to bake up something to replace it.  Normally of course this would be exciting and I would scour WordPress and my Google Reader for new recipes to try.  However what instead happened was an epic battle between my inherent laziness and my desire to not spend money (I won’t say cheap, I’d just like to think of myself as a saver).

When it’s 95 degrees outside and you live on the top floor of a tiny apartment building with poor air circulation, the idea of running the oven at 4-500 degrees for an hour is not very enticing.  When not at work I spent most of the week sitting in front of a fan.  However a loaf of wheat bread on campus would cost me double what I pay to make it myself.  So of course, you see the bind this put me in (but not really).

In the end my desire to have an extra 2 bucks in my pocket won out and on Sunday morning I pulled out my trusty copy of Bread Baker’s Apprentice to make a dozen bagels.  I don’t need to explain why bagels are delicious and amazing, but it worth noting that once again, it is not as difficult as you may think!  What’s that?  You didn’t watch the video above?  Go back and do it, and then watch the first three season of Community if you haven’t already.  Actually it’s totally worth re-watching even if you have (I think I just found some weekend plans…).

This is a two day recipe where mixing and shaping are done on the first and the bagels proof overnight before being boiled and baked the second day.  What is nice though is that those bagels will keep in the fridge for another two days, so you have some flexibility in when you make them.  That it means I can have a fresh bagel for breakfast two days in a row.  So I made the dough on Sunday, made one for breakfast Monday, made 10 Monday night, and the final one this morning for breakfast.

Start off by making a sponge by mixing a teaspoon of yeast, 4 cups of bread flour and 2.5 cups of water.  It will have the consistency of a thick pancake batter.


Cover and let rise for about 2 hours (or until doubled).


Add another 1/2 teaspoon of yeast to the sponge and stir it down.  If you didn’t already have it in one, transfer to a stand mixer and add in the salt, malt powder/syrup/honey/ sugar and 3 cups of the flour.  I’d gradually add the flour otherwise it will just fly everywhere once you turn on the mixer.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour as needed.  This will be a very stiff dough and should knead for about 5-6 minutes.  Compared to other breads this dough is exceptionally ‘dry’ in that the hydration ranges around 55-57% (water to flour ratio) and it will feel very dense.

The bagels will proof overnight in the refrigerator, but before that happens they have to be shaped.  Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (if you have a kitchen scale each will be about 4.5 oz) and form them into rolls.  Cover and let sit for about 20 minutes, and in the meantime line two baking sheets with parchment paper (very lightly oil as well).

There are two ways to shape these, I’ve found that poking a hole in the center and rotating with your thumb to widen the hole works best.  This video does a good job of showing the process.  Alternatively, you can roll the dough into a rope and then seal the ends together.

Place your bagels on the pans and cover with plastic wrap.  Let them sit at room temperature before putting in the refrigerator.  These will keep up to two days for when you are ready to bake.


The following day, preheat your oven to 500 degrees and bring a large pot of water to boil (the wider the pot the better).  Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the water and drop in your bagels to boil (I was able to get 3 at a time to fit).  Let them boil for a minute on each side (or two per side if you like your bagels chewier).


While your bagels are boiling sprinkle cornmeal or flour on the baking sheets they had risen on (still use the parchment paper).  After boiling transfer to the baking sheets, dipping in any toppings along they way.  You can see in the above picture my plate of sesame and poppy seeds.  Bake at 500 degrees for 5 minutes and then rotate your pan(s) 180 degrees.  Turn the oven down to 450 and bake for another 5 minutes, or until they are done to your liking.  Let cool for 15 minutes before eating.


These will keep fresh for a few days but also freeze very well.

Recipe courtesy of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.



  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 7 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups water, room temperature
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Cornmeal/flour for dusting


In the bowl of a stand mixer combine water, 1 t yeast and 4 cups flour.  Mix until all ingredients are combined, then cover and let rise for 2 hours or until doubled.

Once risen add in remaining 1/2 t yeast and stir down sponge.  Gradually add in 3 cups of flour in addition to salt and malt powder (or substitute listed above).  Knead for 5-6 minutes in a stand mixer and add remaining 3/4 cup of flour as needed.  The dough will be very stiff.

Divide into 12 equal sized pieces (16 or 24 for smaller bagels) and shape into rolls.  Let sit while covered for 20 minutes and then shape into bagels using desired method.  Place on parchment lined baking sheets at least two inches apart and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit at room temperature another 20 minutes then place in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees and bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add 1 T baking soda to water and gently drop in bagels (as many that will fit).  Boil for 1 minute, then flip and boil another minute.  Dust sheet pans with cornmeal and place boiled bagels back on the parchment.  Add toppings as desired.

Bake in a 500 degree oven for 5 minutes and rotate the pans 180 degrees.  Following rotation lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake until done, about 5-7 minutes.  Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

5 thoughts on “Britta’s Bagels

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  4. I just made these bagels tonight. Do you feel like the hydration is too high in this recipe and lacked salt? I’m just getting into bagel making so I would love some feedback!


    • Hi Nick,

      Thanks for your comment! I’ll admit that it has been a long time since I made this particular recipe, and it was my first foray into bagel making. It is definitely a higher hydration than a lot of the other recipes out there, though I can’t remember the taste enough to say anything about the salt content. Though glancing at the recipe again it is definitely a lower percentage than you would normally expect.

      I suppose I’ll have to revisit this one. Bagel making is a delicious learning process!

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