Bagels: My First Yeasted Dough

Photo by Olivia Coffey

I bake all the time but I rarely leave the realm of muffins, cupcakes, cookies, or brownies. The only times I’ve used yeast were for challah, which we make in the bread machine at my house (don’t gasp, we just make the dough in there and then braid it and bake it in the oven).

So I decided to try my first real yeasted dough – for bagels! I got the recipe from this post on Baking Bites, which is my go-to for any kind of baked good. In fact, we’ve posted about that blog before on Penn Appetit. If you go to the original post, there are great instructional photos for how you should shape the dough. I also consulted Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything about adding toppings and such.

The recipe is reprinted below, with my notes in italics. I made poppyseed, onion, plain, and poppyseed-onion bagels, and ate them with lox and cream cheese. Damn good.

Homemade Bagels (from Baking Bites)
makes 1 dozen


1 tbsp. active dry yeast (I actually used Perfect Rise Yeast which claims to be a “fast rising active dry” yeast)
1 tbsp. sugar
1 3/4 c. water, warm, about 100-110F (I didn’t have a thermometer so I just guessed. I found a website that claims it’s better to have the water too cold than too warm.)
4 c. bread flour
1 tbsp. salt (again, I would cut this down to 1 or 1 1/2 tsp.)
1 egg, for egg wash

In a large bowl combine yeast, sugar, and water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in flour and salt. Mix dough thoroughly until it comes together in a large ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add an additional tablespoon of flour or water, if needed.

If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If using a stand mixer, knead dough with the dough hook until elastic, about 8 minutes on a low speed. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 400F.

When dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces (first quarters, then thirds). Shape each piece into a tight ball (as shown in the photos on the Baking Bites blog) pinching the corners together at the bottom of the piece of dough. When all the balls are shaped, let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with a clean dish towel.

Once dough balls have rested, the bagel shape can be formed. Using your fingers, poke a hole through the center of each dough ball. Stretch out the dough into a ring with your fingers and be sure to make the hole a little larger than you want the finished bagel to have, as it will shrink slightly while the bagel is expanding during the baking process. Let bagels rest for about 10 minutes.

Working four at a time, drop the bagels carefully into the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes on the first side, then flip and boil for an additional minute. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer bagels to a clean towel to drain for a moment, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (At this point, you can dip the bagel in poppyseeds, sesame seeds, sauteed onion, etc.) Repeat process with remaining bagels.

Brush boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg (only if they don’t have toppings!) and bake for 20-24 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.