Homemade Bagels are in a different league to the usual dry supermarket offerings. They’re also a doddle to make and include some fun boiling! Sprinkle with sesame seeds to make my Sesame Bagels or use the basic recipe to experiment with the flavour to your heart’s content!
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There are some things that I have no locus to riff off and really, this bagel recipe is one of them. It’s the Nigella Lawson recipe from the glorious How to be a Domestic Goddess. OK, so I changed it a tiny-weeny bit. And I more or less halved the recipe. 15 bagels is a lot! But other than that, I really do have to concede the credit on this one.
Homemade Bagels are one of those things that you make which then ruin the shop bought version. Sorry but its true! The good news is that in all honesty, whist you will vow to only ever make them at home forever more, you will buy them from the shops sometimes! See also Butter, Hummus and Puff Pastry. As is life!
You will make these bagels again though as you can whip them up in around 2 hours. If you are in need of a super quick, no knead, no proving required bread, take a look at my Chilli & Oregano Soda Bread.
The Sandwich Bagel Problem
There is a whole school of people who use bagels as a sandwich bread. I am not usually down with this. Un-toasted or even toasted-and-then-cooled bagels are dry as standard. They’re too chewy to blend nicely with their filling (see also: sourdough) and lets be honest, the hole can make things difficult!
But! My homemade Sesame Bagels are much softer and a little less chewy. And so they lend themselves to being eaten without needing to be toasted. I won’t lie, the hole thing can still be an issue – just make the hole smaller when shaping if sarnies are your intended end point.
Make Sesame Bagels into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
Bagels combine with Homemade Butter, my luscious Breakfast Casserole, Baked Oatmeal and Bourbon Peach Compote to make a gorgeous stress free brunch feast! You can even throw in some Choc Orange Muffins for a little sweet treat!
Ingredients for Sesame Bagels
Like pretzels, bagels are traditionally boiled before baking in a water solution containing lye. This is not something that either of us is likely to have lying (pun intended) around at home.
And so both Nigella and myself make do with boiling them in a sugar water solution to give the bagels their shiny glaze. I strongly suggest that you follow suit.
I like to use sachets of instant yeast (usually 7g per sachet) but I like to get ahead of the activation by still giving the yeast a few minutes to get going before adding to the dry ingredients. If you have a yeast method that you prefer, including using fresh yeast, then please proceed as you wish.
I have called this post “Sesame Bagels” but really you can leave them plain or use any other topping that you prefer such as black poppy seeds. Or a mixture of sesame or poppy. Or black sesame. The choice really is yours.
I would recommend getting to grips with the basic recipe first but then you can experiment with all of the classic flavourings. Add cinnamon and raisin? (sounds like a nightmare to me so I won’t join you). Add onion? Swap the white flour for granary or wholemeal? Add chilli and thyme? Go crazy people (and then tag me and tell me).
I wonder if you can make non-bagel shapes with bagel dough? Now there is something to try! Bagel baguette anyone? Bagel torpedoes?
Make it Vegetarian
Providing you don’t add a bacon topping, my Sesame Bagels are gloriously suitable for vegetarians!
Make it Vegan
Bagels are super easy to vegan-ise. Simply don’t wash the bagels with the egg before scattering the sesame seeds. The seeds will stick regardless, your bagels just won’t be QUITE so shiny.
Make it Allergy Friendly
My Sesame Bagels are free from nuts and dairy.
Egg Free: To make my bagels suitable for an egg allergy, simply follow the above instructions for vegan bagels. (Just don’t use the egg wash).
Gluten Free: Making gluten free bagels is totally possible by using a really good gluten free flour. However as the gluten is what makes a bagel have that distinct chewy texture, without the glutenous flour, you will likely not fully achieve that.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Sesame Bagels
A Stand Mixer with a dough hook would be my first choice of appliance to help make me make bread dough. An electric hand mixer with dough hooks would be my second. My third choice would be elbow grease.
A dough scraper is a great tool to work with when dealing with dough. It can be used to scoop, cut and scrape any dough from flat surfaces. A great alternative to the metal type are these cheap flexible scrapers.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
If you wish to start making the bagels the day before, you can make up and knead the dough up to step 3 of the recipe. Then leave the dough in the fridge to prove overnight. You can complete the remainder of the steps in the morning. If the dough hasn’t doubled in size, leave the dough to come up to room temp and wait until it has.
I would not recommend freezing the bagels at the point just before baking as I would some bread products. The bagels are too delicate and will likely loose their shape and texture.
Saying that, I would absolutely bake THEN freeze the bagels. I would make a large batch, cut each bagel in half ready for serving and then freeze. Thaw the bagels directly in the toaster after prising the frozen halves apart, just as I do with shop-bought bagels.
Leftover Sesame Bagels
There are obviously a myriad of uses for bagels and I would tend to only make as many as I’ll eat in the next few days. Unless I am planning on freezing a batch.
And there is nothing to say that you can’t use bagels as the bread element of a bread and butter type pudding. As the bread is quite dense, you will want to give the pudding a good amount of time to absorb the liquid. You may even wish to use a little extra custard.
Homemade Bagel Tips
The dough will be quite dry, don’t panic, this is normal!
Knead the dough on a floured surface but try not to add too much extra flour to the dough as this will dry it out. If it feels like its getting a bit dry, knead in a drop more water. Only a drop at a time mind you.
You can just leave the dough on the side in the kitchen to prove but it’ll take twice as long. An airing cupboard or similar is ideal but I don’t have one so I usually put one of my ovens onto a super low heat, pop the dough in and then turn the oven off. Just don’t keep opening the door to let the residual heat out.
Don’t crowd the pan when boiling the bagels. Embrace the soothing nature of watching that lovely smooth dough turn into ugly ass bagels in batches.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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More Bread Based Recipes
Homemade Sesame Bagels Recipe
- 7 g Fast-Acting Dried Yeast - 7g dried yeast = 15g Fresh Yeast
- 5 tbsp Sugar
- 0.5 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 300 ml Water
- 500 g Strong White Flour (Bread Flour) - + extra for kneading
- 2 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes
- 1 Egg
- 1 tbsp Untoasted Sesame Seeds
- Add 7g Instant Yeast, 1 tbsp Sugar and 0.5 tbsp Vegetable Oil to 300 ml Warm Water. Stir and set aside.
- Combine 500g of Strong White Flour and 2 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes in a mixing bowl – ideally in a stand mixer with a dough hook.
- Add the yeast mix to the flour mix.
- Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes. It should be a stiff/hard/quite dry dough. Add more flour or water to achieve that consistency if needed.
- Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 1 hour to prove.
- In the meantime, line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and oil the paper.
- Continue once the dough is well risen (it should retain the impression of your finger when prodded).
- Punch the dough down and knead it a little until smooth.
- Divide the dough in half, half again and then half again to make 8 mounds of dough.
- Roll each mound into a ball using the palms of your hands then flatten a little.
- Poke a hole in the middle and stretch the now doughnut shaped dough – I like to use the spin-it-around-your-index-finger technique.
- Lightly cover them and leave each bagel resting on the oiled baking tray for 20 minutes to second prove.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 240c or equivalent and put a full kettle on to boil. Also fill a large pan with a little water and 4 tbsp Sugar stirred into it on the hob on a medium/high heat.
- Add the now boiled kettle water to the pan and bring back to the boil.
- The bagels should now have risen again and puffed up.
- Poach each of the bagels in the sugared water for 1 minute – do this in batches commensurate to the size of your pan – do not overcrowd the pan. Carefully turn the bagels once in the water.
- Replace the bagels back on their oiled baking sheet once poached.
- Beat 1 Egg and use a brush to glaze the top.
- Sprinkle the ugly-ass boiled bagels with 1 tbsp Sesame Seeds.
- Bake the bagels for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.