The Best Everything Bagel
Now I’m probably a little biased but I’ve got to say that these bagels are pretty special.
These little gems are full of attitude and stand up to bold-flavoured and textured fillings.
I don’t think that a recipe is really the key to baking a great bagel, I think it’s down to execution and avoiding a couple of tripping points.
I’ll walk you through the recipe and point out the potential traps to avoid so you can bake an amazing bagel and wow your friends and family.
- The vitals and baker's percentages
- Recipe formula
- Equipment you’ll need
- Video Tutorial
- Printable quick reference recipe card
- Free recipe calculator
The vitals and baker's percentages
My kitchen held an average temperature of 23C/73F for the duration of this baking session.
This recipe makes 620g of dough and after accounting for a little wastage will produce four 150g pieces of dough to make into bagels.
I’m using a combination of strong white bread flour with a protein content of 13% and 60% hydration to create a strong stable dough.
Creating a strong dough is important as we will need to handle the bagels after they’ve proofed and we want to avoid the chance of the bagels deflating as much as possible.
We need to make sure the bagels don’t overproof during the cold-proof in the fridge. I found the best way to avoid this is to keep the initial proof (fermentation) to a minimum.
For this reason, I like to make sure I have spent plenty of time kneading the dough to make sure I have developed as much strength as possible.
I have made these with soft flour which produces a softer final product. I like both varieties very much.
If you are going to use soft flour, be warned, you’ll need a delicate touch when boiling the bagel and you’ll need to watch the proofing like a hawk, you mustn't let the soft dough overproof.
Barley Malt Syrup
When I use barley malt syrup in a recipe I get asked if it can be substituted for molasses or honey. The simple answer is yes, but there are a few considerations.
Barley malt syrup isn't as sweet as molasses or honey so I would suggest adding a little less. I’m not adding the barley malt syrup for sweetness (although it adds a little), I’m adding it for the malt flavour.
You can try using half the quantity of honey or molasses, just remember that the flavour profile will be quite different.
If you use barley malt powder I’d suggest halving the quantity and seeing what the result is like.
I’m using instant dried yeast in this recipe. If you want to use fresh yeast you can double the quantity.
If you are using another type of dried yeast then use the same amount specified in the recipe.
It helps to think of yeast as speed control. The less you use the longer the process will take, the more you use the quicker things will go.
This can be helpful if you are working in a hot climate as reducing the yeast will slow things down.
Just remember that using a lot of yeast in a recipe produces a heavy commercial yeast flavour in the final product.
Whereas using less yeast with a longer fermentation process results in a beautifully textured and mature-tasting bread.
Remember that your proofing/fermenting times will be dependent on the temperature in your kitchen. Keep an eye on your dough and be prepared to adjust the timeline as needed.
The timeline is based on a kitchen temperature of 23C/73F. Expect the proofing/fermentation times to be quicker in warmer kitchens and slower in cooler kitchens.
10:00 Mix the dough (15m)
10:15 Knead the dough (20m)
11:20 Shape (30m)
12:40 Cold proof (2m)
10:00 Bake (30m)
11:30 Dive in!
Hands-on time: 1h 40m (approximately depending on experience)
Total time: 25h 30m
The equipment you’ll need
There is no specialist equipment needed to execute this recipe but you will need digital scales. A bowl and bench scraper is super useful for handling the dough. You’ll need a mixing bowl and a spoon.
A large pot is used to boil the bagel before baking and a spider or slotted spoon will make draining the bagel easy.
I use a baking stone to bake the bagels on but you could equally use a baking steel. You can still make this recipe without a stone or a steel.
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The bagel dough
376g strong white bread flour
8g barley malt syrup
30g sesame seeds
30g poppy seeds
30g nigella seeds
20g garlic flakes
20g onion flakes
5g sea salt
Don’t forget, to further understand any of the techniques we discuss in the method, you can watch the full bagel video tutorial towards the end of this blog.
The everything seasoning
Add everything except the salt to a bowl and combine well. Taste the mixture and see if the balance of onion and garlic flakes works well for you. Feel free to add more if necessary.
Once you’ve balanced those ingredients you can add the salt. I use a good quality flaked sea salt adding a little at a time, stirring and tasting as I go.
I know I’ve balanced the flavours correctly when the mix comes alive and tastes a touch salty but not overly so.
I’ve given you the ingredient weights that I use but I’d encourage you to play around with the ratios until you find a mix that works best for you.
Mixing the dough
Add the water to a mixing bowl followed by the sea salt. Use a spoon to dissolve the salt thoroughly.
Now sprinkle the yeast on top of the water (don’t worry the salt doesn’t kill the yeast).
Now add about half the flour to the bowl and stir until you’ve got a porridgy consistency.
Add the barley malt syrup and blend. You’ll find the sticky malt syrup blends easily thanks to the consistency achieved by adding just half the flour. You can use this trick anytime you need to add something sticky to your dough.
Now we can add the rest of the flour. Use a spoon to bring the mixture together. Now wet your hand and use a pinching motion to combine the ingredients into a rough dough.
It doesn’t need to be smooth but there shouldn’t be any pockets of dry flour.
Cover the bowl and leave it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Kneading the dough
After 15 minutes turn the dough out onto the work surface.
The dough requires kneading for about ten minutes to build strength in the dough. These bagels won't have much of an initial proof so we need to make sure the dough is well developed.
Work the dough by pushing and pulling it against the work surface. Make sure to rotate the dough so that you don’t miss any areas.
This dough is quite stiff so I’d suggest kneading for 5 minutes, covering the dough and leaving it to rest for 10 minutes, before kneading for a further 5 minutes.
After a total of 10 minutes of kneading, you can shape the dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl. Cover it and leave it out at room temperature to proof/ferment.
After forty-five minutes the dough will feel smoother to the touch but it shouldn’t have increased too much in volume.
If your dough has increased more than expected, don’t stress. Gently push the air out of the dough before progressing. Using a light touch, a heavy hand will make the next shaping step harder.
Step 1: Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Shape the dough into balls by using your hands or rolling the dough on the countertop. Leave the dough balls covered on the work surface to relax.
Step 2: After ten minutes take one of the pieces of dough and roll it into a sausage shape by applying downwards pressure and moving your hands outwards. You should be able to roll the dough to a length of about 15cm before the dough tightens up. Repeat with the other pieces, cover again and leave to rest.
Step 3: After a further 10 minutes it’s time for the final shape. Take a piece of dough and using the same technique as described above, lengthen the piece of dough until it is long enough to stretch around the back of your hand and join together on your palm.
As you pass the dough around your hand use a slight twisting motion. Cross the two ends of the dough over each other where they meet on your palm.
Now you can place your palm down on the worktop and gently roll it backwards and forwards to seal the dough.
Don't push too hard, it’s important to try and maintain an even thickness throughout the bagel shape.
The dough will be under a little tension and when you remove it from your hand it should recoil a touch creating a relatively tight bagel shape.
Find yourself a baking tray or container with sides that are high enough to accommodate the bagel's increasing volume. We don’t want them to proof and touch whatever is used to cover them.
Dust the bottom of the container with fine semolina flour or rub it with a little vegetable oil and place the bagels on top. Don't place them too close together, the bagels should have enough room to proof and increase in volume without touching each other.
Cover the bagels and leave them out at room temperature to proof.
After thirty minutes the bagels should feel inflated but also nice and strong. We don’t want these to proof to their full potential otherwise they will overproof in the fridge.
Cover the tray and place the bagels in the fridge.
Boiling and baking the bagels
The next day it’s time for baking. First, we need to boil the bagels which will create a gel layer on the outside.
When baked, this layer produces and crisp and chewy texture on the crust, with lots of little blisters.
Adding a tablespoon of malted barley syrup or honey to the water will help with the colour and shine of the crust.
I prefer to use honey but I have also boiled bagels in plain water too.
Fill a large wide pot with water and add your honey or barley malt syrup and bring to a boil.
Now is the moment for careful handling.
Gently pick up one of the bagels and carefully lower it into the water, boil on one side for 30 seconds and then a further 30 seconds on the other side.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the bagel and gently lower the second bagel into the water.
Make sure the first bagel is well-drained and gently turn it over in the bagel seasoning. Once properly coated you can place it onto a baker’s peel or a thin baking sheet ready to transfer to the oven.
Now the second bagel should be ready to remove from the water. Remove and drain well and repeat the coating process.
Now slide the two bagels onto a baking stone or steel that has been placed on the lower third shelf of the oven and pre-heated to 220c/430F.
Bake the bagels for approximately 15 minutes until golden and crisp on the outside. Be careful not to let the toppings burn.
Repeat with the other two bagels. Leave to cool and then enjoy!
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You can bake these bagels without a baking stone or steel but you may not achieve quite as much spring during baking. You will need to extend the baking process by 2-5 minutes. Keep an eye on them towards the end of the baking process to make sure they don’t overbake.
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