Bagels for Fresh From the Oven – February Challenge

It is Bagels this month for Fresh From the Oven – the incredible bread baking community. This month’s challenge was hosted by Claire of Purely Food. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass. Bagels are my absolute favourite but I keep away from them because it invariably means I will have to slather it with plenty of cream cheese and then chomp-chomp it down with some hot coffee. It is my ideal breakfast, after eggs on toast. Okay, bagels fight for a second position with Granola, fruit and yogurt in my list of favourite breakfasts.

The first time I sampled bagels was in London and it was a close friend who bought my first bagel-cream cheese breakfast for me. From then on I was hooked. I ran an extra mile just so that I could have a bagel with cream cheese. It was like I had found manna. The only other time I felt like that was when I discovered Hummus. Love that thing!

I had a favourite coffee shop in Cambridge ( I was there in 2006 for a company project) and they had the most amazing bagels. I would have them just fresh out of the oven. The cafe owner told me that bagels taste better 5-6 hours after they have been brought out of the oven. I thought, fresh out of the oven they tasted nothing short of divine. The other tiny tidbids he shared with me were – Bagels taste the best when toasted and they have to be golden brown all over to taste the best. If the bagels are  blondish in colour it means they haven’t made the ‘great bagel mark’. I remember all that so well. It didn’t mean much to me as my only concern was how much cream cheese was I getting in my bagel. I guess he must have noticed that my liking for bagels was bordering on obsession and thought I might be interested in such trivia.

Bringing my batch of freshly baked bagels out of my gas -fired oven made me dizzy with nostalgia. They didn’t wear a golden brown that the cafe owner would have approved of but I knew that once toasted they would gain a beautiful colour. I am so happy that Fresh from the Oven made this possible and sent me down a wonderful memory lane.

Recipe for Bagels

Makes 7 


Strong white flour -450g
Fast acting yeast -7g
Salt -2 tsp
Warm water -250ml
Honey -2 tbsp
Vegetable oil -1 tbsp
Egg, beaten – 1
Your choice of topping – I used roasted pumpkin seeds, sesame – black and white, caraway seeds


1. In a large bowl add the salt to the flour and then the yeast (I usually put the yeast in a small well in the centre to keep it a way from the salt).

2. Measure the warm water and then stir in the oil and honey.

3. If kneading by hand, make a well in the centre of the flour and pour the liquid in gradually, bringing the dough together with your hands. Turn the dough on to a clean, dry and floured work surface. Start kneading the dough by stretching it away with the palm of one hand and folding it back again with the other. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. You may need to add more flour as you go if the dough is too sticky.

4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and turn to coat in the oil. Cover with cling film or a plastic bag to create a draught-free environment and put in a warm place (not hot) for between 1-3 hours or until doubled in size.

5. Lightly oil two baking trays.

6. Remove the dough from the bowl, punch it down to knock the air out and knead briefly.

7. Roll in to a sausage shape and divide into 7 chunks. As you work one, keep the others covered with a clean tea towel.

8. There are two ways to shape the bagels. One is to firmly roll out each chunk in to a long sausage shape, then form a ring and seal the ends together with a tiny splash of water and squeezing. The other method (my prefered method) is to roll each chunk into a ball. Piercing a hole in the centre with your finger, pull the dough open wide by twirling it round your index fingers (wider than you think you need as the hole will shrink when the dough proves, is poached and then baked).Place on the prepared baking tray and repeat with remaining dough.

9. Cover and allow to rise for a further 10-20 minutes.

10. Preheat the oven to 220C  (200C fan), gas 7. Fill a large sauce pan with boiling water (from the kettle) and return to a simmer. Gently lift each bagel into the water to poach (do not try to put too many bagels in at once as they will expand slightly). Poach for about 90 seconds on each side, turning gently with a slotted spoon.

11. Remove the bagels from the water, allowing them to drain first and place on the prepared baking trays spacing them about 3-4cm apart.

12. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with your choice of topping. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn upside down for a further 10 minutes to cook the bases. Cool on a wire rack.

The recipe instructions were so easy to follow and I felt no need to refer to any other source for further explanation. The largest chunk of time went in poaching the bagels. I have to admit I was pretty bored by the time I was on my 3rd bagel. Rest of the steps take no time at all.

Toasted, these bagels were an instant hit with my daughter, my hubby and my friends. With cream cheese they were already addicted. I have only 3  left and I baked them last night.  I know I will be baking these again for sure.

55 thoughts on “Bagels for Fresh From the Oven – February Challenge”

  1. I used the same method to make my pretzels. Obviously a different recipe but still, the process is so similar. These look so beautiful Anita. I lived off bagels when I was in America last year. So delicious when fresh.

  2. Bagels + cream cheese are one of my most favorite meals ever. I can’t even imagine how fabulous a homemade one tastes?

    May I be so forward as to suggest you do a giveaway? 🙂 And I somehow win?

  3. Who lives in UK for nearly 1.5 years and doesn’t have a bagel? ME. Who goes to the US on a press trip and doesn’t have a bagel? ME!!!
    OMG I commented on Sally’s post as well and feel so stupid…these look awesome. Why have I never had them before?!?!

    MUST RECTIFY or I’ll go to bagel hell.

  4. They look good enough to start a war over! Anita, your photographs are excellent, as good as any food photographer I’ve known. Love eating the bagels, made them once just to see if I could, and decided all this rising/proofing/poaching was too much work – a simple rise & proof op or something with a biga done a few days ahead do-able. But congratulations on what was obviously a resounding success.

  5. I bought more flour last sunday hoping to bake a bread.. still daunting for me.. I am really in awe at how at ease you are with baking breads and bagels.. they look really delicious.. Let me try your easiest bread recipe now..

    1. Yes it is indeed and that is the only step that took a lot of time. These days most of the outlets take a short cut and steam them all at once. But then they aren’t the authentic sort of bagels anymore than the Polish used to make.

  6. I could read about bagels all day, I can just picture them coming out of my oven. I’ve made them a few times and it is impossible to not chow down on at least 2 right away. And I pretty much toast all my bread, I just like it better that way.

  7. I love bagels. I’ve never made them but I love when we visit large cities like New York or Chicago and I can get a “real” bagel. Store bought just are not “real” LOL. Oh and real cream cheese on a real bagel, so worth the calories 🙂

  8. Bagels sounds wonderful. I cant stop looking at them either. I remember trying a bagel once and the impression never left! Its an “exotic”thing for one from middle europe. ^.^
    Love the tidbits, yours looks brown enough I feel on top, no? surely great toasted too.
    thanks for sharing Anita!

  9. “The cafe owner told me that bagels taste better 5-6 hours after they have been brought out of the oven.” Wow!I never knew that!I have had bread,right out of oven,when it is warm,and it tastes soul-satisfying.Even simply with butter,it’s a deep pleasure!
    Bagels with cream cheese – even better!
    Thank you for sharing your memory lane with us!:-)

  10. I can’t believe how brave you are. Making your own bagels! I live in Virginia – though I am originally from New Jersey and one of the things I miss most about home (sorry dear friends and family – hope you are not reading) is bagels. Oooh. and thin crust pizza. need to put your recipe and tips to good use.


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