4 September 2010


I had an interesting little discussion with my friend Jane this morning, who said she knew of a baker who reckoned you couldn't cook bagels at home, because you need a steam oven.  ~scratches head~  Well, we seem to be managing it!

Mind you, I say "we", but it is in fact Hubby who has become the Chief Bagel Baker.  The original recipe came from my friend Melanie Boxall - Quiddity - thanks, Mel!  He's tweaked the recipe and changed from dry yeast to fresh yeast and now thinks he's got the perfect recipe.  So - as he appears to have perfected it - here it is (by popular demand!).  This is the recipe for the basic plain bagel.  We have tried cinnamon & raisin (which I recommend) and have got it in mind to try cheese & onion bagels, using the fried onion pieces you get for sprinkling on salads.


Makes 8-10 (depending on how big you make each individual bagel)

Ingredients :

13.5 fl oz of warm water (112-115 deg F)
3 tablespoons sugar (normal granulated is fine)
15g fresh yeast (available from your local Supermarket's bakery - just ask for some and you should get it for free) if using dried yeast, 2 teaspoons (7 grams).
4.5 cups of strong bread flour
1 tablespoon of salt
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

Method :

1.  Start the yeast, by mixing the yeast and sugar with the water, then leaving to froth up (around 3 minutes).

2.  Decant into a large bowl and add half the flour and the salt, mix, then add the remainder of the flour.

3.  Knead well until smooth, cover and allow to rise.

4.  Let rise until doubled in size - about an hour in a warm kitchen.

5.  Divide into equal sized balls.  Then press down with a finger in the centre of each ball, making the customary hole in the middle of the bagel.

6.  Set aside and allow to rise again for 10-20 mins.

7.  Place a large pan of water on to boil, pre-heat your oven to 200deg C (fan) and prepare the beaten egg.

8.  Boil the bagels, 2-3 at a time, taking care to handle them gently so that they don't deflate, for 45 seconds, flipping over halfway through.  Drain well.

9.  Prepare a baking tray with greaseproof or parchment paper, then lay the bagels on the paper and glaze with the egg mix.

10.  Bake for 20 minutes, turning the tray half way through if your oven bakes hotter at the front than at the back - like ours does!

11.  Allow to cool.

The bagels are gloriously chewy, with the loveliest of fluffy insides.  I've discovered they're perfect with cream cheese and ham, cream cheese and smoked salmon, scrambled egg and smoked salmon, cheese and home made chutney, home made jam, marmite, they're just perfect for dunking in a bowl of soup - the possibilities are endless.  They also make great packed lunch sandwiches for schoolboys.

Ours are supposed to last for some 2-3 days, however as yet they have yet to get beyond 2 days, because we've eaten them all!


  1. Surely the humble bagel pre-dates the swanky steam oven?

    In any case, I can say, hand on heart (we're a passionate lot, us bakers) that these bagels are much nicer than any of the shop-bought ones that I've ever tasted.

    The other great thing about them is that they are so much easier to produce than a home baked loaf, in my 'umble opinion.

  2. Morning, dear 'eart. :)

    Everyone - allow me to introduce Chillibob, who is the "Hubby" of whom I speak. LOL

  3. Thanks for this - I never thought about making bagels before - always thought they were too complicated - but after reading your post I will give them a try. Cheers for that!


  4. It's a pleasure, Jo! Funnily enough, I was just on your blog reading about the Sainsbury's chocolate/coconut creations! :)

  5. I am so jealous of your ability to obtain fresh yeast! I have asked everywhere around here, nobody has any.

  6. Do you not have a supermarket that does their own baking, Mel? That's where we get ours and they give it away free. (I realise it's another world out there where you are, but it's worth asking! lol).

  7. So much to say!

    First off, fresh yeast for free? Blimey! I've only ever used dried (and never yet made anything edible with it). I've seen fresh in health food shops but never considered it. But you get it free? Never considered asking for it! That's genuis!

    Secondly, the make a ball and press your finger in is brilliant! I thought you had to pull the dough into long sausages and then form a loop. Doughnut style is so much easier. Not doubt my baker friend wouldn't approve, but perhaps that's the reason he's no longer a baker!

    Thirdly,(ex)baker friend still insists on the need for a steam oven, although he now concedes that for home cooking it's enough to put a tray of water in the bottom of the oven as the bagels cook. Something to do with keep a soft outer texture. TBH me being a complete breadfailure couldn't really keep up when his explanation got technical. Isn't going to stop me having a go at these ones though! :)

  8. I think it's something to do with the brotherhood of bakers, in that if you bake then you're committed to passing a little bit of yeast on to other bakers. Sounds brilliantly eccentric and wonderfully British, but it certainly seems to work! We have never been refused once, after many times of asking. For sure you get varying amounts from the teensy little bit that will do for one loaf, to a whopping great big chunk that'll keep you going for weeks! Definitely worth asking. :)

    So long as you accept that your Bagels are going to have a gorgeously chewy "crust" (which just adds to the bagel experience, in my book), then who cares about the steam oven? We have never used the tray of water business, largely because if you heat the oven high enough to turn the water to sufficient steam, your bagels will burn. ~shrug~ Take 'em out when they're golden, not dark brown, and you keep the chewiness to a minimum. :)

  9. I have heard tell that in certain establishments such as Waitrose, Fortnum & Mason and places of that ilk, you may be asked to pay a nominal fee for a chunk of yeast.

    In our experience of the main chains, no payment has ever been asked although knowledge of the secret trouser shake / earlobe waggle of the artisan bakers guild is, of course, essential.

  10. I get my fresh yeast from The Dorset Bakehouse in Boscombe, (Tesco's wouldn't let me have any) it's only about 50p for 100g and it's so much better than the dried stuff. These bagels look amazing, I'm going to try making some next week I think. great post.

  11. Hello Nick and welcome! How mean of Tesco's, particularly when Sainsbury's and Asda let you have some for free - and very often lots more than 100g! Still, it's good to know where you can get it from if all else fails - thanks!

    Interestingly, regarding the Bagel recipe, we've successfully halved the amount of salt involved, without any detrimental effect to the bagel. So that's worth bearing in mind, if you're a hypertensive sort! :)


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