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Making Bread at Home

Making Bread at Home

By Tom Jaine

Published 2005

  • About

The bagel is a Jewish bread, perhaps originating in Austria, migrating to Polish Galicia and thence to North America where it has become a standby of the Jewish delicatessen. The slightly enriched dough is shaped into rings, given a short rise, then poached for a matter of seconds before baking. The poaching makes the crust chewy rather than crisp, a texture reinforced by the short rising time. The crust may be brushed with egg to give gloss (an effect also achieved by putting sugar into the poaching water), and it may be coated with onion flakes, poppy seeds or sesame seeds.


  • 15 g/½ oz fresh yeast
  • 2 teaspoons malt extract
  • 150 ml/5 fl oz tepid water
  • 300 g/10 oz unbleached white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon malt extract for the poaching water
  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water for glazing
  • poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Combine the yeast, malt extract and the 150 ml/5 fl oz tepid water in a bowl and stir to dissolve. Mix the flour and salt together, form a well in the centre and pour in the yeast liquid, then the oil. Mix to a dough, then turn out on to a floured work surface and knead for 8 minutes. The dough will be quite soft and pliant.
  2. Leave the dough to rise in a bowl covered with oiled clingfilm in a warm place (24°C/75°F) for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  3. Turn it on to the work surface, divide into 10 equal sections and roll each of them into a neat and tidy ball. Rest them for 5 minutes covered with a clean cloth. To form the bagels, flatten each ball slightly, then pinch your thumb through the centre to the bottom. These rings can then be made larger by playing hoopla with the bagel by twirling it round and round your thumb, or a forefinger. The hole in the middle of the bagel needs to be bigger at this stage than you want it to be at the end of cooking. As the dough rises, so the hole will shrink.
  4. Leave to prove on a floured tray covered with a cloth for 10 minutes. Heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 and bring a large saucepan of water with the malt extract added to it to the boil, then leave it simmering. When the bagels have proved, slip three or four into the hot water. Poach for 1 minute, then turn with a slotted spoon and cook the other side for 30 seconds. Remove and drain on a clean tea towel.
  5. Once they have all been poached, place the bagels on a greased baking sheet and brush with the egg white glaze. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.