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How to make bagels

Up your lunch game with chewy homemade bagels, a welcome addition to your baking repertoire. So versatile, bagels are equally tasty with a savoury topping for a light lunch, or slathered with a sweet filling for a delicious treat. If you fancy keeping them vegan, brush the bagels with vegetable oil instead of egg whites before baking. You won't regret making these super bakes.

  1. Kneading the dough

    Stir the sugar into 400ml warm water until dissolved. Put the flour, yeast and salt in a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre, then pour in the sugared water. Mix with the dough hook attachment of an electric whisk on a low-medium speed for 10 mins until smooth. If making by hand, knead for 25 mins until smooth and pliable.

    Bagel dough needs to be kneaded for longer than other breads to build the gluten and make them chewy. It’s a very stiff dough, so it’s easier to use a mixer if you have one. You can do it by hand, it just requires extra work. When ready, the dough will be smooth and tight.

    Kneading the dough
  2. Removing air bubbles

    Lightly grease a large bowl with oil, add the dough and lightly cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel. Leave to rise at room temperature for 1 hr or until doubled in size.

    Knocking back the dough gets rid of large air bubbles, giving the finished bagels a more even texture. Push the dough down with your hand and knead briefly on a worktop until smooth and soft.

    Removing air bubbles
  3. Making dough balls

    Knock back the dough gently with your hands and line 2 baking trays with nonstick baking paper. Divide the dough into 12 pieces (about 100g each). To shape the dough into neat balls, pinch and pull the edges of the ball down to the bottom to give you a smooth top. Cup the ball beneath the palm of your hand and roll on the surface to create a neat round ball. Use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes in the centres, then use your fingers to widen them to about 5cm. Arrange on the prepared trays, leaving at least 5cm between them. Brush the tops with oil, then cover with clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for 12 hrs.

    Making dough balls
  4. Chilling the dough

    Chilling the dough helps to develop the flavour of the bagels, and the slow rise contributes to their chewy texture. You can chill them at this stage for up to 24 hours, if you like. The next day, take the bagels out of the fridge to return to room temperature for 20 mins. Preheat the oven to gas 9, 240°C, fan 220°C.

    Chilling the dough
  5. Boiling the bagels

    Bring a large, wide pan of water to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Add the bicarbonate of soda; then, working in batches, lower in the bagels with a slotted spoon and boil for 30 secs each side, using tongs or a slotted spoon to flip them in the water.

    Boiling the bagels seals the crust so they won’t break in the oven. Adding bicarbonate of soda to the water breaks down the starch, and gives the bagels their signature chewy, shiny crust.

    Boiling the bagels
  6. Adding a topping

    Return the dipped bagels to the tray, rounded side up. Brush with the egg white and scatter over the seeds, if using. Bake for 8-10 mins until golden. Set aside to cool for 20 mins before eating. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

    If you fancy giving your bagels a topping before sliding them into the oven, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle the top of each bagel with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

    Adding a topping
  7. Ingredients

    We've included a handy ingredients list to help you make these delicious bagels – don't forget to screenshot the list before going shopping!

    2 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
    800g strong white bread flour
    7g fast-action dried yeast
    2 tsp table salt
    vegetable oil, for greasing
    1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
    1 medium egg white, lightly beaten
    3 tbsp poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)

    Makes 12 | Takes 2½ hrs plus overnight proving

    Freezing and defrosting guidelines

    In order to enjoy optimum flavour and quality, frozen items are best used within 3 months of their freezing date. For more tips on freezing and defrosting food, read our article Love Your Freezer.

    Each serving contains

    • Energy

    • Fat

      2g 3%
    • Saturates

      0g 2%
    • Sugars

      3g 3%
    • Salt

      1.4g 23%

    of the reference intake
    Carbohydrate 55.5g Protein 8.2g Fibre 2.2g