Forming and Baking Bagels Article -
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How to Form and Bake Bagels

Step-by-step instructions for boiling, topping, and baking perfect bagels.

With a little practice, you can make bagels that rival those in New York's best bagel shops.

1. To make bagels, a stand mixer is highly recommended. The best bagels are made with high-gluten flour or bread flour, so the dough is very stiff. It also requires a long mixing time to develop properly. We used the Bagels II recipe.

2. Once the dough has risen once, divide it into 12 equal pieces and form them into dough rounds. Cover the rounds with a damp cloth and allow them to rest for 5 to 10 minutes for easier shaping. Meanwhile, bring 3 to 4 quarts of water to boil in a large stockpot, preheat your oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) and lightly oil two baking sheets.

    3. Lightly coat your hands with vegetable oil and gently press a dough round down with the palm of your hand. Find the center of the round and push a finger through to make a hole.

      4. Swing the bagel around your finger to widen the hole. Be gentle; the goal is to widen the hole without ripping the walls of the bagel. The walls should be approximately 1-inch thick and the hole 2 inches wide. Don't worry if the hole seems too large: it will close up quite a bit as the bagel boils and bakes. After each bagel is shaped, place it back underneath the moist towel.

        5. Why boil? Boiling gelatinizes the starch in the outer layer of dough, giving the bagels their characteristic chewy crust. Some bakers add malt syrup (available at health food stores and specialty grocers) to the water to sweeten it, enhancing the bagel's flavor. We used fresh boiling water with no added flavoring. Carefully drop the bagels, two or three at a time--depending upon the size of your pot--into the boiling water. Don't crowd the bagels in the pot; this will cause the water to cool down and the bagels to stick together.

          6. Boil the bagels until they have expanded in size and underside appears cooked (1 to 2 minutes); turn them with a slotted spoon or spatula. Let them boil for another minute or two, until both sides are evenly cooked.

            7. Remove each bagel from the boiling water; the bagels will have puffed up and the centers will be nearly closed. They will be off-white in color and have some blisters just below the surface. Drop each bagel into a bowl of cold water to cool.

              8. If you wish to top your bagels, arrange toppings--poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dehydrated onion--on plates. Remove bagels from the cold water bath and dip the top and sides in the seeds. Arrange the seeded bagels on the oiled baking sheet.

                9. With strongly flavored toppings, such as Kosher salt, garlic, caraway, or fennel seeds, sprinkle on the toppings rather than dipping the bagels to coat completely.

                  10. Bake the bagels in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. After 10 minutes, check the bagels and loosen them from the baking sheet if they are sticking. Once they are done, place them on a rack to cool.

                    11. You don't need to get up at 4 am, like the bagel bakers do. The shaped rings of raw dough can be frozen and kept for up to three weeks. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bringing to room temperature before boiling. Bake as directed.

                    Dec. 17, 2009 7:44 pm
                    Wow this sounds really good and promising. I might have to give this a try sometime!
                    Jan. 18, 2010 11:15 am
                    here's how i do it (start at step 5) 1. boil in 3qt water & 3tb sugar. 2. boil 30 seconds each side, more or less dep. on size. for 2" bagels 30s is enough. 3. skip cold water bath, just lay on same cloth you had them under 4. dip in seeds or egg white, up to you. i just push them facefirst lightly into a pyrex of egg white to glaze. 5. i dont like nonstick, so i put tin foil over baking pan (the one that comes with the oven). sprinkle plenty of corn meal over it. the meal will prevent sticking. that's why btw many bagels have these little yellow dots all over their bottoms... that's corn meal. dont worry about this extra work, because you dont need to replace the foil (or even the meal!) after each use as long as its used relatively soon. i make batches daily so i use the same foil for about a month, adding more meal as necessary.
                    Mar. 29, 2010 8:48 am
                    I ove bagels but I need to make them without the hole because I like to top them with cheese and toast them in the toaster oven. As you can see the hole presents a problem. Therefore I want to make "Bagel Pucks" . John
                    May 3, 2010 3:25 am
                    If the bagel does not have a hole in that it's nothing more than some sort of hard roll ! Why don't you make scones that's what you're making any way . NORB .
                    May 8, 2010 12:07 pm
                    NORB, a scone is NOT a bagel, not even close. bagels are yeast breads, made with a lean dough, and generally savoury. scones are quite the opposite. and while bagels were made to resemble stirrups, i don't think a hole-less bagel is the sacrilege you claim it is.
                    May 16, 2010 4:33 am
                    I tend to make the holes in my bagels really small, about 3/4 inch, which by the time it boils and puffs up are basically closed - thus allowing for bagel sandwiches or melty cheese without the drippy problem!
                    May 19, 2010 1:41 pm
                    I'm so hungry now that I'm reading all of this stuff! Someone throw me a bagel please!!!
                    Jul. 8, 2010 3:20 am
                    I just made bagels with garlic, fried onions, rosemary, sweet marjoram, raisons and sundried tomatos each and they already are gone in a family of 4! Never thought making bagels was so easy. Second batch is in the process
                    Jul. 19, 2010 12:34 pm
                    i am really looking forward to trying this. My only issue is the pictures of finished bagels are enormous. Like two or three bread servings per. I think i'll stick to making smaller bagels that are not going to blow my bread allowance for the day, but i love the idea of a bagel roll. I think that could be shifted to making the pretzel roll i was talking to someone about recently. SUPER AWESOME!
                    Jul. 22, 2010 9:58 am
                    I'm going to give this a try. It's sounds great. I have a dream of having my own bagel/coffee shop....I can say it all started here :)
                    Sep. 1, 2010 4:57 pm
                    easier to cut in strips and wet them with water and roll them up like a pinwheel then stick the hole in the center
                    Oct. 19, 2010 10:45 pm
                    Wonderful. The clearest, most user-friendly description of bagel-making I have ever come across. By the bye, the hole is a necessity-- as with some doughnuts, it was found the centers were often undercooked or even a tad raw. The hole allows the bagel (or doughnut) to cook evenly. The other necessity is the boiling stage, without which a true bagel texture cannot be achieved, and one has simply bagel-shaped bread, however dense. Do mention about the making of Egg Bagels (a personal preference), whole wheat bagels, and other variations...
                    Oct. 20, 2010 5:30 am
                    I will never cook Bagels. But, this was so interesting in reading and learning. I love Bagels and am now very proud that I know how they are made. Thank you all for the knowledge. GJB
                    Oct. 20, 2010 7:21 am
                    The instruction you have provided are perfect! I wish all instruction were that clear & short. Thanks, I will try this, as I have been wanting to learn how to make Bagels.
                    Oct. 20, 2010 8:01 am
                    Wonder if it is possible to use donut cutters to make these bagels.
                    Oct. 20, 2010 8:27 am
                    Can't wait to experiment:-)
                    Oct. 20, 2010 8:35 am
                    I'm interested in using rye flour or making pumpernickle bagels, or wheat flour any revisions that I should make other than the seed?
                    Ann Kolpin 
                    Oct. 20, 2010 9:42 am
                    Today is my FIRST day of retirement and I will definitely try these babies. And John....I like the idea of no hole. you don't need a hole. Would make a great toast in my easy-bake oven...that's what I call my toaster oven. Thanks for this recipe. Can't wait to try it.
                    Oct. 20, 2010 11:13 am
                    Now that I know how to make bagels I can't wait to make them . My favorite are sesame seed bagels and onion bagels.
                    Oct. 20, 2010 12:08 pm
                    I'm going back to the basic of making my own breads and other meals from scratch. Can't wait to try these.
                    Oct. 20, 2010 12:30 pm
                    In reference to the "holeless bagel". What if you just made the hole smaller so it nearly closed up during baking? You'd still get a completely cooked bagel with the same result you were looking for. Compromise :)
                    Oct. 20, 2010 2:30 pm
                    thanks for the tastiest..... recipe on the above it has really helped me in alot improving my skills.... thanks alot....
                    Oct. 21, 2010 4:26 pm
                    Great recipe. Can't wait to try it.
                    Oct. 21, 2010 5:52 pm
                    I made bagels over 30 years ago, basically the way described-without the cold water bath and I think I'm ready to try again. As soon as I can assemble the items I need and I have a day off work I will be making bagels-hopefully enough that I can freeze some dough for other days. And John if you want bagels with cheese that's not a problem especially if you're heating them up in a toaster oven. I work in a retail bakery and we make cheesy onion and breakfast bagels-both with cheese-they heat and toast well in a toaster oven or regular oven-I have to remind my family not to put them in the toaster though-I love that extra cheese is the holes too... I can't wait to give this recipe a try...
                    Oct. 21, 2010 6:01 pm
                    sorry for the back to back comment-I've printed out the recipe and noticed that it mentions cooking with steam... I don't know of any personal oven that makes steam-do any of you try to make steam in the oven while baking bread/bagels/etc??? I know at work steam is an integral part of baking our bread/bagels-helps make it crustier or is steam not really needed???
                    Angie Alberts 
                    Oct. 23, 2010 4:21 am
                    Pam - to cook with steam, all you do is put a pan of water on the bottom rack of your oven. I wouldn't have know that myself execpt I was making something else months back and the recipe instructed to put a pan of water at the bottom of the oven.
                    bob c 
                    Nov. 12, 2010 4:47 am
                    I have been eating bagels for over fifty years. to create a good steam.put a few ice cubes in a aluminum pan placed at the bottom of the cubes for some reason, produce more steam then plain water
                    Nov. 20, 2010 12:42 am
                    Good call on the use of Ice cubes, Bob C.They have less surface area than one puddle of water. The many little puddles of water heat and evaporate faster than heating one large puddle. I agree with Gilfaethwy and Wick of Twizt, the hole is necessary but only needs to be there during the boiling stage.
                    Nov. 23, 2010 12:48 pm
                    Just a little tip for the hole in the bagel. I use a cookie cutter to shape the bagels and then a wooden spoon end to make the hole. You can spin the bagel on the dowel end and it makes a perfect hole. I then let rise for another 10 to 20 minutes. I have never had a problem with the hole being to big. You just need enough of a hole to let water boil through and around the bagel.
                    Dec. 27, 2010 12:35 pm
                    So, I tried to blend these instructions with the "Boiled Bagels Recipe." The results were so-so. I think next time I would shape the bagels, THEN let them rise. I don't know, then they might have a problem at the boiling stage. I don't know enough about the chemistry of baking to judge... The first rise was beautiful and promising, but then I shaped the bagels and they never "fluffed up" again, or while boiling... they also baked unevenly, so while some were starting to burn, others still had gooey spots. I tried to eat one, and the bottom was crusty - burnt almost - and the top tasted like boiled dough (and I even flipped them during baking). It was just weird... and disappointing. Back to the drawing board, I guess.
                    Jan. 8, 2011 4:48 pm
                    I made them for the first time today, quite succsssful. I boiled them for 7 minutes, not two, which puffed them out. I did not use the cold bath, either. I topped with minced garlic and dry onion flakes. I also added 2 TB brown sugar to boiling water + 1 tsp salt instead of malt. Yield was 8 good sized bagels. (Note my yeast pak was 4 months past expiration date but still worked here).
                    Jan. 28, 2011 11:14 am
                    I did everything, all, most of, or some of the above things. The bagels coming out of the oven were beautiful and delicious. BUT the next day the were too tough to chew--almost. Why???
                    bob c 
                    Feb. 1, 2011 7:25 pm
                    bagels don't seem to sty as fresh as long as most breads I cut the bagels all most all the way through, and freeze them,when I want one, I just pop it in my toaster oven
                    Apr. 2, 2011 3:42 am
                    I worked in a bagel shop for a few years but never baked.Instead of a plate you can fill shakers with desired toppings and sprinkle them on while they are on the sheet. im now living overseas and the only bagels ive found are ....not good to say the least. can't wait to try this recipe!
                    Apr. 11, 2011 11:28 am
                    I love all of the comments. My kids and grand child are awaiting the trial of this recipe. Anyone know of an exceptional Doughnut recipe?
                    Jul. 17, 2011 4:16 pm
                    Can't wait to try this
                    serious salt 
                    Oct. 1, 2012 9:40 pm
                    Yay this should help a lot. The last time I tried bagels was not very pretty. Thanks for breaking it down.
                    Mar. 13, 2013 6:32 pm
                    I've got divaticulis, but love sesame bagels! Does anyone know of a recipe to make a sesame flavored bagel without the seeds? like with the sesame oil?
                    Jul. 5, 2014 7:19 pm
                    I seem to have a problem when it comes to boiling the bagels. When I put the first two or three in boiling water they Just go flat and wrinkly. I take them out and continue baking the rest of them and they turn out fine. Can someone help me out why this happens. Thank you Barb
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