Who knew homemade bagels could be so easy, fun, and delicious! You just need 4 simple ingredients to make fluffy, perfect bagels at home.
I must admit, even my frugal self is guilty of buying “convenience foods” regardless of their high price tag. But what if we could make our favorite store-bought foods from scratch, save a lot of money, make it healthier, AND it be easy?
Well I’ve gone and done it! For $0.14 each you can whip up 10 homemade, preservative-free bagels. Or, ya know, keep paying $0.45 each for Thomas Bagels, or worse, $2-3 each at Einstein. You’re probably thinking, “Yeaaa but that probably takes forever and you have to have special flours and it takes too long and wah”. To which I’ll respond, “Pull yourself together and listen up!” These bad boys have only 4 ingredients, and you probably already have them. Put on your bagel baker hat and we’ll get through this together.
You’ll start off by mixing 4 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 tablespoon of instant dry yeast in a large bowl. Once you’ve mixed all of that together really well, add 1.5 cups of lukewarm water. Warm water, not hot, not cold. This activates the yeast, and the sugar makes it very happy. But yeast likes real sugar, so don’t go substituting in Splenda or Stevia blends for this recipe (though I am usually not opposed to these).
Now you’ll knead (so punny!) to get messy. Use your hands to knead the dough for about 5 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when everything is thoroughly mixed and the dough no longer sticks to your hands. It should feel sort of smooth and silky, but not so dry that it easily breaks when stretched. Lightly oil a big bowl, then throw the dough in it. Cover with a warm, wet towel to make a nice, happy environment, then let the dough rise for 1-2 hours. Now go do the dishes because you’re a messy human and the subtle reminders from your mother and boyfriend that “a good chef is a clean chef” are ringing in your head.
Once the dough has risen a good bit, you’re ready to roll. Portion off palm-sized balls of dough and gently roll them into 6 inch long ropes. Pro-tip! Make sure your scissors are clean and cut off chunks of dough that way. Makes for a lot less mess and squishing of the dough. Then simply connect the two ends! Be sure the bagel hole is pretty big, about 1 to 2 inches across, or it’ll end up looking like the middle guy in the picture below. And also be sure to completely connect the two ends, or he might decide he wants to be a croissant, like the guy on the left. If you need to, wet your fingers with water to really glue the two ends together. Let em sit for about 15 minutes once they have been shaped.
In the meantime, prepare the water bath. In a large pot, bring 2-3 quarts (8-12 cups) of water to a slow boil. Mix in 1.5 tablespoons of brown sugar.
The boiling step was a learning point for me. I boiled most of the bagels at a low simmer for about 5 minutes each. This made for some very very chewy bagels. Unless you’re looking to develop a strong, chiseled jaw, I’d suggest against this. Instead, turn the heat up to a slow boil, then boil each bagel for a little less than a minute on each side. Use a slotted spoon to remove bagels from the water, then set on a greased cookie sheet. And why do we even boil bagels by the way? Isn’t that the most bizarre thing probably ever? Well boiling them “sets” the crust so it rises less in the oven, keeps in moisture, and creates that characteristic crunchy outside and chewy inside. Boiling bagels for longer leads to a thicker crust and more dense inside, as I found out.
Bake bagels at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until brown. When done, remove from oven, carefully cut open, smell the sweet aroma of bagel success and feel like the most achieved human ever.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp instant dry yeast
- 2-3 quarts water 8-12 cups
- 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar
- Mix flour, brown sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add warm water.
- Knead until no longer sticky, about 10 minutes.
- Set in lightly greased bowl, cover with warm, wet towel, and let rise for 1-2 hours.Bring water to boil in a large pot, then mix in brown sugar.
- Portion out palm-sized dough balls, and roll each into 6 inch rope. Join the two ends to form a bagel shape, ensuring the hole is large (1-2 inches).
- With slotted spoon, lower each bagel into boiling water and let cook 30-60 seconds on each side. Do not overcrowd pot. Boil about 4 bagels at a time.
- Remove with slotted spoon and place on greased cookie sheet.
- Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until brown.
Tips & Tricks
And because these don’t have any preservatives, they’re not going to stay good for as long as storebought bagels. The solution? First cut the bagels as you would when eating them, then freeze them in a ziploc bag or container! To thaw, either just throw them in the toaster still frozen, or microwave for 20-30 seconds. If you put a bowl of water in with them while microwaving, they won’t become as chewy.