Basic Bagels

Plain and perfect, these bagels are the ideal chewy canvases for your choice of toppings, a customizable bagel experience for those who want an assorted spread. But any way you top them, these ringed beauties are primed for lox, schemers, and plenty of butter. Find more delicious homemade breads in our new Bread 2020 special issue!

Basic Bagels
Makes 12 bagels
  • 7 cups (890 grams) bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons (18 grams) kosher salt
  • 1¾ teaspoons (5.25 grams) instant yeast
  • 2⅓ cups (560 grams) warm water (120°F/49°C to 130°F/54°C)
  • ½ cup (170 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (42 grams) barley malt syrup, divided
  • 8 cups (1,920 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water, divided
  • 1 large egg white (30 grams)
  • Toppings: everything bagel seasoning, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, freshly grated Asiago cheese
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together flour, salt, and yeast by hand. Add 2⅓ cups (560 grams) warm water and 2 tablespoons (42 grams) barley malt syrup, and beat at low speed until a shaggy dough forms, about 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until dough pulls away from sides and bottom of bowl, about 8 minutes. (Dough will be elastic but may not look completely smooth.)
  2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Place a large sheet of parchment paper in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C); dust parchment with flour.
  4. Divide dough into 12 portions (about 107 grams each). Shape each portion into a ball. Place 1 ball in your hand. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch a hole in center of ball, and stretch hole to about 3 inches wide. Place on prepared parchment. Repeat with remaining dough. (Once dough contracts, the hole should be 1 to 1½ inches wide.) Cover and let rise until puffed, 15 to 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
  6. In a large stockpot, bring 8 cups (1,920 grams) water and remaining ½ cup (170 grams) barley malt syrup to a very low simmer over medium-low heat. (Do not boil.) Carefully drop bagels, 1 to 2 at a time, into water. Cook for 10 seconds per side; immediately transfer to prepared pans.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and remaining 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water. Brush dough with egg wash, and sprinkle with desired toppings.
  8. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on pans for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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    • Hi Riva!

      Honey will work just fine! Here is a pro tip– if you have any home-brew stores in the area, they will likely carry malt extract. Happy baking!

    • Hi Nadia,

      Honey will work just fine! Here is a pro tip– if you have any home-brew stores in the area, they will likely carry malt extract. Happy baking!

    • Hi Stacy,

      Thank you for reaching out! The text says 889 grams, but the font formatting of the “nine” makes it look like the letter “g.” I am going to round the gram weight from 889 to 890 so that the font reads better.

  1. Sandi, the 560 grams of water called for here seems like too much. In the article in the Sept/Oct 2019 issue where this recipe appeared, the author says bagel recipes “should not exceed 50% hydration (with flour and water at a 2:1 ratio)”. By my math, half of 889 (or 890) grams of flour should be 445 grams water. Is this a mistake? Thanks.

    • Hi Susan,

      Such a great question! Thanks so much for reaching out. The water and flour ratio for the Basic Bagels recipe that our Test Kitchen developed is correct! I’ve tried and tasted these beauties myself, and they are divine. I like to make a batch and freeze them, so I can reheat individual bagels in my toaster oven for bagels on demand. In reference to your question, we interviewed our friend Nicole Plue of San Francisco Cooking School and her comments were based on her favorite, traditional bagel recipe. At a 2:1 hydration, you will get a lovely dense and chewy bagel. Our bagel recipe does include more water, and this is to make a lighter bagel that is easy to slice. We found that in a home oven and under the conditions of most home bakers, this recipe worked best for our target results. If you are searching for a denser bagel though, then look for recipes that follow the 2:1 ratio. We would love to hear if you have tried our recipe and what you think!

    • Hi Christine,

      Thank you for your question! We haven’t tested this recipe using non diastatic malt powder, and therefore can’t be sure how to best substitute it. Because one is a liquid and the other is a dry ingredient, it would require altering the recipe to compensate for that lack of liquid. We recommend finding a recipe that calls for it specifically, and going from there. If you do choose to experiment with this recipe, please let us know how it goes!

      Thank you, and happy baking!


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