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There is a Shona proverb that says, chitsva chiri mutsoka. In English it means, you see new things when you travel. That is how I feel about bagels. I don’t remember ever seeing them in any bakery.

Homemade bagels

When I first tried them, I was expecting them to be soft and sweet. They are the opposite, the crust is chewy and they  are savoury. I could not figure out how they were made, never mind that there are many recipes and tutorials online.  Then I saw them being made on TV.

Homemade bagels

Bagels are made using a regular bread dough. The difference is that before being baked they are parboiled in a water and sugar bath. This gives them the chewy crust.

I used a recipe from Natural Chow. Unlike most recipes it uses all purpose flour which I always have so I did not need to buy bread flour that I hardly ever use.

Homemade bagels



  • 1½ cups warm water 110° F
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Water Bath:

  • 2 quarts 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached pure cane sugar


  1. Pour the water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle in the yeast and brown sugar. Let sit 2-3 minutes. Add in the flour and salt and mix on low speed until a cohesive dough has formed. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest for 1.5 hours.
  2. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts and shape into smooth, round balls. Cover them with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
  3. While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath by heating the water and brown sugar to a very gentle boil in a large pan (I use a wok).
  4. Preheat your oven to 425° F. Use your pointer finger to poke a hole through the center of each ball, then twirl the dough on your finger to stretch the hole until it is about 2 inches in diameter (the entire bagel will be about 4″-5″ across).
  5. Place each bagel on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  6. Transfer the bagels to the simmering water, four at a time. Increase the heat to bring the water back up to a gently simmering boil, if necessary. Simmer the bagels for 2 minutes, flip them over, and simmer 1 minute more.
  7. Using a skimmer or strainer, or the end of a wooden spoon, remove the bagels from the water and place them back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
  8. Bake the bagels for about 25 minutes, or until they’re browned to your preference. To top with seeds, remove them from the oven after about 15 minutes, brush with water, and sprinkle with seeds. Return to the oven to finish baking.
  9. Place the bagels on a cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with cream cheese, lox, eggs, or whatever you’d like.

Recipe Notes

Sesame Seed Bagels: Brush each bagel, just before baking, with a glaze made of 1 egg white beaten until frothy with 1 tablespoon water. Glaze each bagel and sprinkle heavily with sesame seeds.

Onion Bagels: Bake bagels for 20 to 22 minutes and remove pan from oven, keeping the oven on. Working with one bagel at a time glaze as instructed above and sprinkle with minced, dried onion. Bake for 2 more minutes.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels: Knead about 2/3 cup of raisins into the dough towards the end of the kneading process. Just before you’re done kneading, sprinkle your work surface heavily with cinnamon-sugar and give the dough a few more turns. Divide the dough into eight pieces, or more if doubling, form each piece into a ball, and roll each ball in additional cinnamon-sugar. Let rest and shape as directed above.

By KhaliL

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