August 25, 2022

Homemade Bagel


I've been baking more and more bread over the years.  And happily, as I bake more often, I find that I've been getting better at it.  Yay!  It's the best feeling, really, to be able to provide fresh bread for my little family.  Today I want to share this homemade bagel recipe that's one of our favorite breads.  

First let me tell you that when I first started making bagels I really struggled with it.  I tried different recipes and methods and still my bagels came out really 'meh'.  It was pretty frustrating but I persisted, cuz, duh, bagel ♥️!   

But ultimately my efforts paid off.  Finally my bagels came out the way I wanted.  Every time!  I'm confident that if you follow this recipe you will end up with delicious homemade bagels with a delightfully dense and chewy interior and a shiny and crunchy crust.  Yummilicious!


The ingredients for bagels are pretty simple.  Like normal bread it's made with bread flour, also known as strong flour or high gluten flour, and yeast.  But bagel dough has one extra ingredient that provides the distinctive flavor that bagels have: usually barley malt but in our case cuz we couldn't find barley malt,  Chinese maltose syrup.  

Chinese maltose syrup 麥芽糖 is used in all kinds of Chinese desserts like cakes, mooncakes, even breads.  This is the first time I've used it for a western recipe and I totally suspect it's the reason our bagels taste so good.  Plus it's really affordable, just look for it in the honey/jam section of asian supermarkets.

Tip:  Maltose syrup is like honey but much thicker.  And super sticky.  The best way to get it out of the container is to pour some cold boiled water directly in the jar.  Then use your fingers to dig up the amount you need. The cold water will prevent most of the stickiness, allowing for efficient handling of the maltose.  Pour water out when done.

Dough tucked into itself to form ball
Dough balls left to relax

The dough is kneaded until it can pass the "window pane" test.  Stretch the dough out to test.  If the dough stretches enough to allow light through without breaking it's ready.  The dough is covered and left to rise until doubled.  If you want to increase flavor with a longer rise you can cover and let the dough rise overnight in the fridge.

Punch down and divide the dough into portions.  I like to weigh my portions out so that I can make beautifully professional looking bagels of the same size.  Take each weighed portion and form into a ball by tucking dough in on itself until a tight ball is achieved.  

Dip the bottom of the dough balls in semolina flour to prevent sticking and let rest, covered, on a tray for 5 mins to let the gluten relax.  


Once the dough balls have relaxed it's time to make bagel shapes!  Take a dough ball in hand, poke thumb through center.  Yup, it's that easy.  And fun!  


Insert opposing index fingers through the center hole you've just punched.  Twirl and stretch the hole until at least 2 inches wide.  It will seems like the hole is too big but it's not because the hole will shrink as it rises and bakes.  So minimum 2 inches!

Bagels formed
Plumped up after 2nd rise

You'll notice that when you've finished stretching that the edges of the hole you've made are sharpish.  Use gentle fingers to plump and round any edges.  Dip bottom 1/3 of bagel in semolina.  This step is important because the bagels will expand during the 2nd rise and will stick to the tray if not properly dusted with semolina*.  Place onto a tray, leaving room for expansion.

Cover and let rise for a half hour.  The bagels won't double, just plump up and expand a bit.  Check out the photos above to see the rise expected.  

A side note here: There are many recipes that say that a long overnight rise in the fridge after shaping the bagels makes for a great bagel.  I tried that many times and it never worked for me.  It was only after I gave up on overnight shaped bagel rises that my bagels started to turn out good.

*Note:  I like to use semolina flour to sticky proof my bagels because it bakes up to a nice glossy texture.  Alternatively you could grease the tray to prevent sticking but I think semolina works better.


The next step is distinctive to the bagel and is what provides it with its distinctive dense texture and delightfully crisp crust.  The risen bagel dough is boiled.  That's right, just drop those babies into a pot of boiling sweetened water. 

Tip:  Keep that water at a roiling boil the whole time!  I didn't realize this was so important at first.  Once I did it really improved my bagels!

The boiling gelantinizes the starches in the dough, creating that oh so distinctive crisp outer crust and dense, chewy interior.  The sugar in the water caramelizes the crust while adding a shine and a touch of sweetness.  I usually use white sugar but brown sugar and maltose is good as well. 


You'll find that the dough will puff up a bit as it boils. And then the dough will deflate a bit once taken out, as in the photo above.  Don't worry about that.  The boiled bagels will puff out again once in the oven.  

If you want toppings add them once the bagel boiled and still wet.  Just sprinkle and press toppings onto the bagel.  I've found that these toppings will stay on through the baking but not much more handling.  If you want the topping to really stay I suggest an egg white wash at this point before adding the toppings.


Slide the boiled bagels into a hot oven and watch them puff up and turn golden.  Bageliciousness!  It's that easy once you've got the hang of it.  Once golden brown remove from oven and let cool.  And then it's bagels and lox, baby!  

Check it out, my homemade bagels.  I'm happy to say that they taste as good as they look!  Which is still a surprise to me, honestly.  I expected homemade bagels to be lesser than 'professional' bagels but guess what, they're better!  Who knew, right?  Try it and see if don't fall in bagel ❤️!
Homemade Bagel Recipe
(adapted from recipe here)  (makes 10 bagels)
Prep time: 20 mins  Rise: 1 hr    Cook time: 25 mins


    Water bath
  • enough water to allow bagels float
  • 3 tbsp white or brown sugar


Mix yeast, flour, salt, maltose syrup and water together.  Knead for 10 mins until the dough passes the window pane test.  Window pane test:  Stretch the dough.  If the dough stretches to the point where the light passes through without the dough breaking, it is ready.

Cover and let rise until the dough is doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  

Punch down the dough.  Weigh the dough and divide by 10.   Portion out dough by weight.  Form into balls by stretching dough to one point until a taut ball is formed.  Dip into semolina flour and place on to tray.  Cover and  let dough relax for 7 mins.

Take a dough ball and punch through the center with your thumb.  Stick opposing index fingers into hole and twirl while stretching until the hole is 2 inches wide.  Dip bottom 1/3 of bagel into semolina flour and set onto a tray.  Repeat for all dough balls, being sure to leave 1 inch between shaped bagels.  Cover and let rise for 1/2 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).

Five minutes before the half hour rise is up you will need to prepare the water bath.  Fill a wide cooking pot with 3 inches water and 3 tbsp of sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Keep at high heat through the water bath.  Carefully lift up a bagel and slip into the water.  Add as many bagels in as will fit the pot in one layer.  Let cook 2 mins.  Flip over and let cook 1 more min.

Use spatula to scoop bagels out and place onto a wire rack to let water drip off.  Sprinkle poppy seeds and caraway over wet bagels and press lightly.  Repeat for all bagels.

Bake for 25 mins or until the bagels are golden brown on top.  Remove and cool on a rack.

Eat your bagels fresh.  If keeping longer than 2 days, freeze.  To reheat just stick em into the toaster oven for a bit longer than usual.  Enjoy!



  1. Awesome! I definitely want to try this.

  2. Bagels are the best aren't they? Especially fresh from the oven! ~ellen