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Homemade Yeast Bagels Recipe & Pictures

Updated on August 24, 2013

Why Make Homemade?

There are many reasons you may be considering making homemade bagels. You may want to be sure your food contains no additives or unnecessary chemicals. You may want to cut down on your grocery bill. Maybe you love fresh bagels, but there isn’t a bagel shop in your area.

Perhaps you enjoy the art of baking, the aroma of freshly baked yeast bread, and caring for your friends and family by giving them the very best. There are very few things in this world more universal than the need to eat.

The finished product. They taste as good as they look!
The finished product. They taste as good as they look!

Additives in Bagels

Alfred E. Newman said, “We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.”

It's important to know what is in your food. Let’s look at the list of ingredients in a bag of store-bought bagels.

  • Enriched bleach flour
  • Water
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Yeast
  • Salt
  • Wheat gluten
  • Calcium propionate
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Guar gum
  • Vinegar
  • “Natural and artificial flavors”
  • Monocalcium phosphate
  • Dough conditioner, which may contain monoglycerides, diglycerides, ascorbic acid, potassium iodate, enzymes, calcium iodate, and azodicarbonamide
  • Corn starch
  • Corn cereal
  • Modified corn starch (what does that even mean?)
  • Cottonseed fiber,
  • Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
  • Red #40
  • Blue #2
  • Green #3
  • Blue #1

And the list goes on.

Most folks I know try to avoid eating things when they are unsure of what it is they are eating, but when you buy a store-bought bagel, it is most likely you are eating dozens of things that you don’t need or understand. I know most of us cannot screen every single thing we eat, but when we can, it is best to know what we are eating and the effects those things have on the body.

For example, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil has long been shown to be extremely detrimental to health, specifically heart health. In some research studies, children consuming food dyes had increased impulsivity and hyperactivity. Azodicarbonamide has been labeled as a possible cause of asthma in the United Kingdom. And what about high fructose corn syrup? It has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and fatty liver disease, all of which can be fatal.

What About the Cost? Isn’t It Expensive to Bake Bread?

You can get a bag of 6-8 bagels at a grocery store for about $5. That’s somewhere between $0.63 to $0.83 each. Not too shabby. Of course, you have to take into consideration that they aren’t nearly as good as fresh bagels, not to mention all the aforementioned additives (yuck!). How much do homemade bagels cost? Let’s look at my recipe:

Dough

1 tbsp instant yeast = $0.10 (app.)

4 cups unbleached bread flour = $1

2 tsp salt = $0.01 (or less)

1 tbsp non-diastatic malt powder or brown sugar = $0.05

1.5 cups lukewarm water = an extremely small percentage of your water bill

Water Bath

2 quarts water = a little more of your water bill

2 tbsp non-diastatic malt powder or brown sugar = $0.05

1 tbsp granulated sugar = $0.01

Total cost: $1.22 for 8 bagels

Cost per bagel: $0.15

So for 15 cents you can have a delicious, gourmet, fresh, homemade bagel. I’ll take that over stale, chemical-laden, factory bagels any day!

What I haven’t touched on here is gourmet bakery bagels. Most shops are going to bake their bagels daily, so it’s less likely there will be chemicals added for preservation. They should be extra tasty too. But what about cost? I recently have heard a lot of people counting up the cost of their Starbucks addiction and then switching to home-brewed coffee when they realize they spend thousands of dollars on Starbucks coffee. Let’s look at your bagel habit.

A popular NYC bagel shop sells their bagels online for $1.67 each. I’m assuming that’s about the same as purchasing the bagels in person, but I wouldn’t know since I don’t get up to NYC very often (what a shame…bagels, Broadway, pizza, Times Square, cheesecake…oh, I am so jealous of you New Yorkers!). Add a little tax to that $1.67 and a bagel costs about $1.75. If you buy 3 bagels a week for the duration of a year, you would be spending about $273 a year on bagels. That’s not so bad, you say? Compare that to making your own at $0.15 each. That’s a grand total of $23.40. What can you buy with $250? You better start thinking about it, because that’s how much you’ll save each year baking your own bagels!

I’ll mention ordering online quickly, because this one is a no-brainer. That same shop in NYC will ship you your bagels as well. The total for one dozen bagels is $70.77. That includes shipping and handling, but I think if it were me, I would just save up my shipping and handling money and take a trip to NYC instead!

Baking is an Art Form

Of course, there are some folks who do not care about chemicals or the cost of their food. If money is not an issue and you feel safe eating store-bought bagels, then why waste your time and energy baking bagels? I’ll answer that. Homemade bagels are delicious. They are chewy and thick. You can put whatever toppings on them you want. You can eat them warm! Oh, there are so many reasons!

Baking with yeast is an art form. People who bake with yeast put their heart and soul into their food. They don’t just want to feed you; they want to feed you well. They want you to remember how good it was and how it made you feel. If your medium is dough, you know what I mean and that’s reason enough to bake your own bagels.

Easy Homemade Bagel Recipe

Below is the recipe I always use when baking bagels. It is one of the easiest I have found and the results are great every time.

4 stars from 1 rating of Easy Homemade Bagels

Cook Time

Prep time: 2 hours
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 2 hours 30 min
Yields: 8 bagels

Ingredients

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar, or non-diastatic malt powder
  • 1 1/2 cups water, warm
  • 2 quarts water, more or less, depending on how large your pan is
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar, or non-diastatic malt powder
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • poppyseeds, sesame seeds, optional
  • asiago cheese, minced dried onions, optional

Instructions

  1. Combine dough ingredients and mix until cohesive.
  2. Knead for 10-15 minutes, by hand, with stand mixer, or bread machine.
  3. Lightly grease a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat with oil.
  4. Cover bowl and place in warm area to rise for 1 hour. Dough likely will not double, but should rise somewhat.
  5. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll into balls. A scale works well here.
  6. Place the dough balls on a parchment lined baking sheet at least 1 1/2 inches apart. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tbsp. brown sugar or non-diastatic malt powder and 1 tbsp. granulated sugar. Reduce heat to barely boiling. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  8. To make holes in bagels, pick up one dough ball and push your index finger through the middle of the ball. Stretch the hole out to about 2 inches. You also may sling the dough around your outstretched finger until it has reached the desired size.
  9. Once you have readied 4 bagels, place them in the water not touching and slow boil for 2 minutes.
  10. Flip the bagels and boil for 1 more minute.
  11. Using a strainer, move the bagels back to the parchment lined baking sheet. I have seen other recipes say to place bagels on a clean dish towel. This has not worked well for me, as the moist bagels stick to the towel sometimes.
  12. Allow bagels to dry while you boil the second batch.
  13. Once all bagels have been boiled and have dried 5 minutes or so, you may apply topping (optional; directions follow).
  14. Bake bagels at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. If baking plain bagels, turn them after 15 minutes for even browning.
  15. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before slicing.

Tips for Baking Bagels

  • It takes a some experience baking with yeast to know when dough is too wet. For example, today I made some homemade bagels. They turned out delicious, but the dough was a little too wet and it made shaping them a pain! After kneading, the dough should be springy. If it’s squishy, it needs more flour. Just add a tablespoon or less at a time until you get the spring you need.
  • When adding topping to your bagels, make an egg white wash first. You will need: 1 egg white, beaten until it’s frothy and 1 tablespoon of cool water to add to the egg white. After the bagels have boiled, it is time to add toppings.
  • To top the bagels, put the bagels on a wire cooling rack with a piece of parchment or wax paper or a sheet pan underneath. Brush the egg wash onto the bagels with a pastry or basting brush. Immediately add lots of topping. Try sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, and/or fresh cracked black pepper. Once you have topped all the bagels, place them on the baking sheet per the recipe instructions and proceed as directed. Carefully, pull the parchment out from under the cooling rack and make a funnel with it. Pour the seeds into a sealable baggie and save for your next bagel adventure. You can make an everything bagel with a combination of all your toppings!
  • If you are going to add a cheese topping or onion topping, do that in the last couple of minutes of baking so the toppings do not burn.
  • Watch the bagels closely toward the end of the baking time. Some ovens run hot and some run cool. It’s important to take the bagels out when they are done, but no sooner and certainly not later.
  • Invest in a bread knife. It makes slicing the bagels so much easier and faster with less crumby mess and fewer broken bagels.
  • If you don’t think you will eat the bagels within a couple of days, refrigerate them. Some people pop the refrigerated bagel in the microwave prior to eating, some toast them, some like them straight out of the refrigerator. I like them ANY way!

For more baking with yeast tips, take a look at my other article about the first time I tried to bake with yeast. Maybe you can learn from some of my mistakes before beginning your journey into baking with yeast.

Bagel Topping Ideas

Experiment with spreads and toppings for your sliced bagels. Try any (or all!) of these:

-Enjoy the gourmet side with cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers.

-Channel your inner Elvis with a peanut butter and sliced banana bagel. Nutella or almond butter would work as well.

-Go Greek with goat cheese, roasted red peppers and kalamata olives.

-Get nostalgic and spread butter with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on your bagel, then toast it under the broiler or in your toaster oven.

-Experience the flavors of summer with cream cheese and fresh fruit or your favorite jam or marmalade.

-Add some fresh herbs to your cream cheese for an extra delicious treat and to use up your overgrown herb garden.

-Slather some pizza sauce on a sliced bagel, then add your favorite pizza toppings and bake at 425 degrees until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

-Try Benedict Bagels by adding a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. You could sneak in some smoked salmon or crab meat with asparagus on the side for a totally gourmet brunch.

So many ideas!!! Make it your own and have fun with it.

Before they go in the oven
Before they go in the oven
Poppyseed bagels
Poppyseed bagels
Kosher salt bagel
Kosher salt bagel
Sesame bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese
Sesame bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese

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    • lucybell21 profile image

      Bonny OBrien 4 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

      Awesome hub. I love to bake,and I always wondered how they were made. I am going to try to make these at work.