I cannot kick bread. Can you? It’s manna from heaven, right? OK, I’m not a starving Israelite collapsing after a year in the desert. But maybe this is why everyone started baking bread during the pandemic? Just speculating.
So I started a bagel habit. And I need to stop it, not because it’s DELICIOUS but because it’s EXPENSIVE. Every weekend for the past month, I’ve stopped at Meshuggah Bakery on 39th in Kansas City, Missouri on the way to my studio. Either onion or an everything bagel, toasted, with dirty martini cream cheese. OMG get in my belly! They are perfection: hot ‘n’ fresh, extra chewy, soft in the center, golden brown, complete with a salty, crunchy crust.
In order to avoid bankruptcy, I started wondering if I could make bagels at home. Umm…yes we can, and you won’t believe how easy it is! I had success with my first batch. And it’s cheap! I’m done spending $4 for one bagel and a schmear when I can spend $4 and get 8 at home.
Incredible plain, toasted, with cream cheese, as a turkey sandwich, topped with a fried egg, avocado, and so much more. Recipes below are super savory. Next week I’ll attempt sweet versions for you.
Makes 8 bagels
1 and 1/2 cups warm water
2 and 3/4 teaspoons yeast
4 cups bread flour (spoon & leveled)
1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar (or barley malt syrup)
2 teaspoons salt
coating the bowl: nonstick spray or 1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 quarts water
1/4 cup honey (or barley malt syrup)
Store-bought Everything Bagel Seasoning OR
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
1 Tablespoon dried garlic flakes
1 Tablespoon coarse salt
egg wash: 1 egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm water and yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Add the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. The dough is very stiff and will look somewhat dry. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough for 4-5 minutes. The dough is too heavy for the mixer to knead it!
Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 60-90 minutes or until double in size.
Line a large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Shape the bagels: When the dough is ready, punch it down to release any air bubbles. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. (Just eyeball it– doesn’t need to be perfect!) Shape each piece into a ball. Press your index finger through the center of each ball to make a hole about 1.5 – 2 inches in diameter. Loosely cover the shaped bagels with kitchen towel and rest for a few minutes as you prepare the water bath.
Preheat oven to 425
Water bath: Fill a large, wide pot with 2 quarts of water. Whisk in the honey. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high. Drop bagels in, 2-4 at a time, making sure they have enough room to float around. Cook the bagels for 1 minute on each side.
Combine the everything bagel seasoning ingredients together. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash on top and around the sides of each bagel. Dip into the everything bagel seasoning. Place bagels onto lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. You want the bagels to be a dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow bagels to cool on the baking sheets for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Slice, toast, top, whatever you want! Cover leftover bagels tightly and store at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Freezing Instructions: Baked bagels freeze wonderfully! Freeze them for up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then warm to your liking. You can also freeze the bagel dough. After punching down the dough in step 6, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then punch the dough down again to release any air bubbles.
Yeast: Use instant or active dry yeast. If using active dry yeast, the rise time may be up to 2 hours.
Bread Flour: Bagels require a high protein flour. Bread flour is a must. I used King Arthur’s.
Barley Malt Syrup: This ingredient can be a little hard to find, but truly gives bagels that traditional malty flavor we all know and love. Most natural food stores carry it. I offer alternatives such as brown sugar in the dough and honey in the water bath; I’ve made bagels with these alternatives AND with barley malt syrup and honestly love both versions.
Everything Bagel Seasoning: Use store-bought everything bagel seasoning if desired. You can mix and match these seasonings, add more/less of any, leave 1 out, etc. These are just basic measurements to follow.
Bread Machine: Place the dough ingredients into the pan of the machine. Program the machine to dough or manual, then start. After 9-10 minutes, the dough will be quite stiff. Allow the machine to complete its cycle, then continue with the recipe.
By Hand: If you do not have a mixer, you can mix the dough together in a large bowl then knead by hand for 10-15 minutes.
-Adapted from SallysBakingAddiction.com
Dirty Martini Cream Cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
(only use Philadelphia)
4 ounces blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup minced green olives
1 Tablespoon dry vermouth
1/2 Tablespoon dried oregano
Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Done.
-adapted from TheLushChef.com