I love bagels! Everything Bagels, Sesame Bagels, Egg Bagels, Cinnamon Bagels, Blueberry Bagels… I could go on and on. However, I’ve never had the guts to try making them myself. Breads scare me a little, the whole yeast thing and the kneading thing…  You would think as an artist who took so many ceramic classes, I would be comfortable around the whole kneading aspect. To be honest, I love kneading… clay! You can’t mess up clay by over-kneading. Breads on the other hand… So when Ari suggested bagels, I was a little apprehensive, but said yes because she was in the kitchen with me and had made bread before.

Geek Alert

There are two prominent styles of bagels in North America: Montreal-style and New York-style. The Montreal bagel contains malt and sugar with no salt; it is boiled in honey-sweetened water before being baked in a wood-fired oven; and it is predominantly either of the poppy or sesame seed variety. The New York bagel contains salt and malt, and is boiled in water prior to baking in a standard oven. The resulting New York bagel is puffy with a moist crust, while the Montreal bagel is smaller (though with a larger hole), crunchier, and sweeter. See wikipedia article for more info. The bagel recipe we used is a New York-style bagel.

Ari pulled out a bread cookbook and said “let’s try this recipe, and while we are at it, let’s also add cocoa and red food coloring and make Red Velvet Bagels. Red Velvet Bagels and Cream Cheese, nom nom nom nom…” Ok, so I am paraphrasing – but all of these statements came out of her mouth at some point in the days leading up to the experiment. If you haven’t already noticed, Ari loves everything to do with red velvet.

The overall experience was enjoyable. However, we didn’t do that much investigating when it came to the recipes. Looking back at it now, we should have looked up a sweet bagel recipe for the red velvet idea. Don’t get me wrong, the bagels were delish! Salty Everything Bagels are right up my alley, but salty un-sweet cocoa bagels, though good, just didn’t cut it. We did add honey to some cream cheese and served the red velvet bagels slathered with this sweet concoction. It was tasty, but we can definitely do better! The recipe that we used didn’t call for sugar, and sugar makes everything better. So we will be revisiting the sweet bagel. And you know what? I might just go ahead and try more bagel recipes on my own!

New York Style Bagels
Recipe type: Bagels
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yields: 10
Adapted from, "My Best Bagels" by Daniel Leader & Judith Blahnik in the cookbook Bread Alone. We used White Whole Wheat flour.
  • 1¼ cups water
  • 4 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 2½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons barley malt syrup
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • Bagel Toppings (optional)
  1. Combine the water and yeast in a 4-quart bowl and let it stand 1 minute before stirring with a wooden spoon until the yeast is dissolved.
  2. Add the whole wheat flour, salt and enough of the all purpose flour to make a thick mass that is difficult to stir.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead vigorously, adding more of the remaining flour as needed until the dough is soft and smooth (about 15-17 minutes).
  4. The dough will remain somewhat sticky and soft even when well kneaded. It is ready when a small amount pulled from the mass springs back quickly.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest in a lightly floured surface while you scrape, clean and lightly oil the bowl.
  6. Place the dough ball in the oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat the top with oil.
  7. Cover with a clean, damp towel or plastic wrap and place in a moderately warm draft-free place until it doubles in volume (1 to 1½ hours).
  8. Preheat oven to 425°F a little before dough is finished rising.
  9. Deflate the dough by pushing down the center and pulling up on the sides of the dough and then turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.
  10. Cut the dough into 10 pieces about 2½ ounces each. Flatten each with the heel of your hand and shape into a tight 1½-inch ball. Place on a lightly floured board and cover with a clean damp towel or plastic wrap and put back in a warm draft-free place for 10 minutes.
  11. Roll and stretch each into a log 8 inches long. Wrap around your fingers to form a ring, pinching the ends together and rolling seam on work surface.
  12. Place on board, re-cover and place back in a warm draft-free place for 10 minutes.
  13. Combine 3-quarts of water and the barley malt syrup in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, then reduce to a light simmer.
  14. Place the bagels, 2 or 3 at a time, into the simmering water, turning after 30 seconds for each side.
  15. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Repeat process until all of the bagels have been poached and drained.
  16. Sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal and place the bagels 1½ inches apart.
  17. Brush bagels with beaten egg white and sprinkle with toppings if desired and bake until lightly folder, 15-20 minutes.
  18. Cool on wire rack.