Baking fantastic bagels is supremely simple

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What kind of schmear do you use?


We had these with butter and then made sandwiches on them. I bought some whipped cream cheese for the ones I’ll make this weekend.


You boiled them, which is good. However, you forgot the diastatic malt powder and the malt syrup. The malt syrup is the most important for putting into the boiling water.


After punching the dough down and forming the bagel shapes I like to put them in the fridge overnight. Then in the morning it is just boil and bake. Make sure to put them on oiled parchment paper before going in the fridge or they will glue themselves to whatever you put them on.

I also use dry malt extract instead of white sugar. This is commonly cited as a “secret ingredient” for new york bagels. I don’t know if that is true, but it tastes good. Some recipies call for adding the malt to the boiling water. The one time I did this, I got a much more bretzel like dark crust.

I do use lye water. I haven’t done an AB test to see if it makes a difference, but it does make you feel more badass.


One more thing: if your bagels are not difficult to kneed, your bread flour may not be gluteny enough. You can get gluten additive to bump it up a couple percent.


Lately, I’ve been really into eating bialys. Gimme some garlic filled goodness! Too bad there aren’t many bialy shops outside NYC.


I replace the sugar with honey, and I also add an equal amount of malt syrup. I also add a tablespoon of baking soda to the boiling water (no malt syrup - I add that to the water for soft pretzels). I brush the bagels with egg white before baking, which also makes anything that you sprinkle on the bagel stick better (parmesan cheese is nice).


I fucking hate the idea you have to make them all the same. Uniformity is only cool when that’s what the artist wants.

Or, you know, when you want the individual pieces to cook in roughly the same time.


Putting baking soda in the boiling water to increase alkalinity is supposed to be critical to getting that classic skin texture, which from the photos yours seem to be missing. I think it probably affects the taste and texture only barely, but I do like the texture of a proper bagel crust.


Diastatic malt powder is a must. It not only helps the overall flavour of the bagel but also enhances the crust. Put honey in the boiling water, not malt syrup - this not only adds flavour but also glazes the crust. Coat with sesame seeds or poppy seeds before cooking. Form the bagel shape a little less plump - you roll it out like a rope and wrap it around your hand (across the knuckles) then roll the ends together with the palm of your hand - this makes the hole larger. If you can, cook them in a wood oven. Voila - Montreal Style bagels (which are the best - ever - for always - so there) worthy of any that come from St. Viateur’s. I’ve been making them for a few years now - along with bialys (which are similar but at the same time vastly different but equally delicious) and they are fun to make and even more fun to eat and share. Omnomnom.


Came here to praise the Bialy too. I’m not in NYC but fortunately for me, there is a place in town that makes them. I need to find a good make at home bialy recipe.


Use the same ingredients as for the bagel recipe - except the honey because the main difference is you don’t boil the bialys, that’s what makes them lighter than a bagel. Forming each bialy is easy - take a round ball of dough and mush it down in the middle to make a good sized indentation. Set them aside and let them rise for about 20 minutes. Don’t add the filling until they’re just about to go in the oven. I know folks who use all sorts of stuff in the middle including cheese and bacon but purists will insist on just caramelized onions. Sprinkle a bit of salt over them before you put them into the oven. Bake them until they’re lightly brown and look delicious - not too long or they get stiff and hard.

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I agree… add the baking soda. First thing I noticed about the photo was the “skin” didn’t see right…

… we did this when my daughter and I were bored so she suggested making pretzel bites. Definitely needed that “skin” to make them right.

Enjoy a pic (because I like showing off):


Having never really had NY or Montreal style bagels. I’m not sure what we normally end up with here in Toronto. what I do know is there tends to be two types: the “bready” bagels that basically have an interior crumb similar to white bread, and the awesome Gryfe’s or What-a-Bagel style with a crisp crust and seriously chewy interior - the latter type are so good you can eat them plain, as-is, as you would a pretzel (same day, anyway).

I’ve always assumed that the good bagel crust crust came from a steam oven, in the same sense as real French Baguette has. But then Montreal is all about wood-firing your bagels, so what do I know?


King Arthur “Sir Lancelot” high-gluten flour is excellent for bagels, but hard to come by in retail packaging (it’s mainly only sold in wholesale 25- or 50-pound bags). Adding a little extra gluten to bread flour is the next best thing.

In addition to malt in the boiling water (old-school bagel shops would use lye, but this not recommended for the home kitchen!) as others have mentioned, adding some malt syrup to the dough helps build a nice flavor and texture.

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Agree with most of points here; try Cook’s Illustrated NY Bagel recipe:

I’ve been baking them for years and this recipe finally pulled it all together for me.

If you have a sourdough starter, try Nancy Silverton’s La Brea Bakery recipe…it’ll rock your world.


I use lye in the water. It isn’t a big deal. I do wear safety glasses when dropping the bagels in to protect against splashes, but that is really more about paranoia. The concentration you use is fairly low.

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Totally agree that any home baker of moderate skill should be able to make a bagel that’s worth a damn, though as the comment thread shows, there are a lot of opinions on what the best way to do it is.

Regarding the famous New York bagel and the “it’s the water” claim, you might want to have a look at the taste test that Serious Eats did in 2009. Spoiler: The best bagel in New York is usually the one you can get fresh out of the oven.


Any recipes for pumpernickel, the best bagel?

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