Traditional Bagel Recipe

Hi mom, welcome to Cooktophia. Now we will make a Traditional Bagel Recipe. These Traditional Bagel Recipe are soft, chewy, and delicious. Try them lightly toasted with butter or with your favorite spread for breakfast, lunch, or a snack. I love a good bagel with Broccoli Soup!

Traditional Bagel Recipe

Traditional Bagel Recipe

This bagel recipe comes from Peter Reinhart via Smitten Kitchen. If you’ve never been over to Deb’s site, I would highly recommend it. I love love love it. Anyways, onto these bagels! They are made using traditional methods (a yeasted dough boiled then baked), using some pantry staples and some less common ingredients. Don’t worry though, I have substitutions if you can’t find a certain ingredient. They come out fresh and soft plus they are way cheaper (and yummier) to make than store-bought bagels. Did I mention you can freeze these babies too? Yeah, you can. Overall, these were really delicious lightly toasted with butter and tasted like a bagel. Shocking, I know.

close up of a homemade bagel

Traditional Bagel Recipe Main Ingredients

The ingredients for these bagels are divided into 3 sections- sponge, dough, and finishing ingredients. Here is everything you’ll need:

For the Sponge Method aka Yeast Starter

  • Instant Yeast – make sure you use fresh yeast for this recipe. That way you are guaranteed big soft poofy bagels.
  • Unbleached High Gluten Flour – If you can’t find unbleached high-gluten flour in your grocery store, then bread flour will work as a substitute.
  • Water – room temperature water works best. Just be sure that it isn’t cold.

For the Bagel Dough

  • Instant Yeast – yes, more of this wonderful stuff.
  • Unbleached High Gluten Flour – or bread flour like mentioned above.
  • Salt– for flavor balance.
  • Malt Powder – for this particular recipe, I found and used Barley Malt Powder or ‘malt extract’. If you can’t find that, then malt or barley syrup, brown sugar, or honey are acceptable alternatives.

To Finish

  • Baking Soda – This is added to the water when boiling the dough and creates that signature crunchy outside with a soft interior.
  • Semolina Flour – this is used for dusting and helps prevent bagels from sticking to the pan. Use cornmeal if you can’t find semolina flour.
  • Sesame Seeds +Poppy Seeds + Kosher Salt – to add on top of the bagels. Adds a slightly salty and nutty flavor and makes it pretty. You could also just go with the Everything Bagel Seasoning here.
  • Rehydrated Dried Minced Garlic or Onions – to rehydrate simply let the dried ingredient soak in water for 15 minutes. (A note from Deb: this was what I chose, and found the taste very authentic, or chopped onions that have been tossed in oil – optional)f
close up of a bagel with sesame seeds on it

How To Make Traditional Bagel Recipe

For all of the nitty-gritty details on how to make these amazing homemade bagels, see the recipe card down below 🙂

Step 1: Make Yeast Starter

Stir yeast into the flour. Stir in the water until it forms a sticky thick batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm spot in your kitchen until the mixture is foamy, bubbly, and almost double in size.

Step 2: Make the Dough

Stir in the rest of the yeast to the sponge using a stand mixer {use the dough hook}. Stir in 3 cups of flour, salt and malt powder or syrup. After a minute or two, the dough will come together into a ball. Continue to sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup flour into the dough with the machine on low. {At this point, I had to remove the dough and knead the rest of the flour in by hand.}

Step 3: Continue Kneading

If you keep your dough in the mixer, continue kneading for 6 minutes. If you transfer the dough to the counter to knead by hand, knead for 10 minutes. At this point, all the flour should be incorporated into the dough and the dough should be soft, smooth, and firm. If the dough is too dry {it rips} add in a little water. If the dough is tacky {sticky} then add in a little more flour.

Step 4: Divide Dough

Divide dough into 4 1/2 ounce pieces for normal ‘standard size’ bagels and 2 1/4 ounce pieces for mini bagels. Roll dough into smooth balls and place on lightly greased parchment paper. Cover rolls with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let them rest for 20 minutes or so.

Step 5: Pinch a Hole In Each Roll Forming a Bagel

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Take each roll in your hand and carefully punch a hole into the center forming a bagel. Try to keep the bagel as even as possible doing your best to avoid thick and thin spots. {You can also roll the dough into a rope and form bagels that way–I just thought it was easier to poke the hole in the center.}

Step 6: Place On Baking Sheets, Cover

Place each bagel 1-2 inches apart on the prepared pans. Mist the bagels with non-stick cooking spray and cover them loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

bagels stacked on top of one another

Step 7: Test Bagels for Over-Proofing

After 20 minutes, check to see if you’re ready to finish the bagels. Drop a bagel into room temperature water. If it floats within 10 seconds, then they are ready to be boiled and baked. If the bagel doesn’t float, pat it dry lightly and return it to the pan to continue to proof. Check back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. Once a tester floats, place bagels into the fridge until you are ready to cook them, OR get ready to boil and bake!

Step 8: Prep Water To Boil Bagels

When you are ready to bake the bagels, preheat the oven with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the baking soda and optionally, a few tablespoons of barley syrup.

Step 9: Boil + Add Sesame or Poppy Seeds

Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit. After 1 minute flip them over and boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. If you want to top the bagels with sesame or poppy seeds, do so as soon as they come out of the water so they stick!

Step 10: Bake + Cool

When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.

After the rotation, lower the oven setting and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer. I ended up baking mine for 15 minutes to get the golden color I like, turning my pans 3 times, once every 5 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and cool the bagels 5-10 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack.

Storing Traditional Bagel Recipe

A Traditional Bagel Recipe is best eaten fresh, honestly. They tend to dry out quickly in a manner of days. However, once completely cools, you can leave them in a rolled-up paper bag on the counter at room temperature for a couple of days. I’ve heard of refrigerating bagels to keep them fresher for longer, but refrigerating bagels actually makes them dry out faster.

Freezing Instructions

You can also freeze them in an airtight bag for up to 3 months. Here’s a helpful tip, slice your bagels before you freeze them that way they can go straight into the toaster for a couple more minutes for a fast defrost and toast time!

Traditional Bagel Recipe Notes

  • I didn’t have semolina flour to dust on the bottom of the pan before baking, so I just left them on the lightly greased parchment paper and they were fine. I had no problems with them sticking.
  • Right after you boil the bagels, top them with your desired toppings right away so they stick! Don’t wait. Do that pronto.
  • I baked my bagels for closer to 15 minutes to get a golden brown. Every oven is different, so keep a close watch!

Traditional Bagel Recipe Nutrition

Calories: 233kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 619mg | Potassium: 91mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 6IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg

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