Help! I want to make bagels from scratch

Frustrated by the proximity of the closest acceptable bagel to my home, I have determined the only prudent course of action is the home-made bagel. I understand the process only in the limited sense: coil dough, boil dough, bake dough, put cream cheese on, and, although I know would have an decent recipe, bagels feel like one of those foods where the special little tricks honed for generations would be necessary. Like seltzer water and matzo balls, you know? So I’m wondering, do any of the teeming millions have a thoroughly delicious bagel recipe they could send along? Any tips to enhance the greatness of the bagel? I need help from square one to cream cheese but I’m a good cook and a decent baker, so I know how to follow recipes/ directions, etc. I crave a fresh poppyseed bagel. Please help.

I don’t have much to offer, except that I made bagel dough once in my bread machine, and the bagels came out lousy. It would be nice to make bagels at home, but the whole boiling plus baking thing feels a little onerous. Maybe somebody can tell me how to make decent bialys instead.

My mom used to make bagels with a bagel maker (I couldn’t find a lot of examples online, perhaps they don’t make them anymore). They came out okay, but only slightly better than grocery store bagels.

I have made them in the past, although I currently don’t have recipe I’ve tried. They are a lot of work though. Keep in mind that you are going to be spending at least a full afternoon on the project and your recipe will likely only yield a couple of dozen. You’ll need a very large pot for boiling the bagels.

I’ve found grocery store substitutes to be an acceptable subsitute. Bagels are just too much work.

Try here or here or any of many, many sites I found by searching “bagel recipes”.

When I lived on a farm in central Virginia, bagel making was a personal quest of mine. There are a lot of terrible recipes out there (round bread does not a bagel make). The cookbook I used to satisfactory results was in a jewish cookbook called “Love & Knishes” which I inherited from my great-aunt. (FYI, the recipe from The World of Jewish Cooking by Gil Marks – a perfectly respectable jewish cookbook in many respects – was BAD)

If you have a few recipes which you are trying to choose from, I would use these criteria:

  1. The “key ingredient” is potato starch, or “potato water” = water in which potatoes have been boiled. Discard any recipes which do not have this ingredient.
  2. Bagels MUST be boiled before baking. Discard any recipe which does not involve boiling.
  3. Bagels are such a hassle it doesn’t make a lot of sense to make a small batch. Discard any recipes that are for less than 3 dozen.

I feel like I had a thread about this, about 2 years ago this time.

Ah! Found it! AND it includes the recipe – your lucky day. :slight_smile:

Good luck, grasshopper.

Thanks Hello Again! The potato water thing was EXACTLY the sort of quasi-secret I feared might be lurking in the world of bagels. I look forward to spending my weekend slaving over these. I’ll let you know how they go…

Wait—Hello Again: about how long did this take you from ingredients to fresh bagels? Trying to see if I should do this today or tomorrow. Thanks.

ooh yeah, good bagel tips, I like my bagels with a small middle gap, the big ovals dont do it for me. BUt I didnt see a recipe in the link, I did track down the Cooks Illustrated book just now at my local library coop! The amazon index tells me bagels are on page 366-69! Thanks!

I’d give it a go! Its time I stopped relying on the bread machine to mix my dough.

Its been a while but I’d have to say start to finish, around 4 hours, including rising time.

What in the world am I to do with 3 dozen bagels before they go stale or moldy? It seems to me that freezing changes the texture somewhat, and my family won’t go through more than 6-8 a week. Any tips on how to keep them longer?

I would never even attempt to make my own bagels. Heck, I just went without for a decade because I wasn’t living anywhere with good bagels.

This site should get you started on bagels

I probably did about 20 batches of bagels a couple of years ago. I remember being on a couple of threads that no longer exist on the subject. I can’t get bagels here. There are fake bagels that are baked only. There are frozen Lenders bagels. I ended up where I could make a pretty tasty bagel but wasn’t worth the effort. And I never got to where it was an awesome bagel.

If I ever find someone that makes awesome bagels at home, I want to pick their brain about all the little details. Is the potato water important, best way to form a bagel, how long to boil on each side, etc. There’s a ton of variables that I’m not sure of and seemed like too many moving parts to experiment with to fine tune. Post back here if you figure it out.

Slice in half, then freeze in individual ziplocs. Defrost by placing in 250F oven with a small oven-proof cup of water. To me, bagels frozen and defrosted in this manner are more than acceptable.

Never, EVER, put a bagel in the microwave to defrost it.

Well, I did it. I spent from about 10 a.m. till 4 in the afternoon yesterday making these bagels and, let me say it once more: Thank you Hello Again! I followed the recipe almost exactly (the one difference being that my potato water sounded far more potato-y-er than the water in the directions did) and the results were, well, pretty damn bagel-y. No round bread, Lenders-style crap here. I did use about 5 dollars worth of poppyseeds, however.

Verdict: a really good recipe, if y’all are wanting to try it out. You need a full afternoon and a little patience, but its fairly easy, and the reward is warm, fresh bagels, so, really, you can’t go wrong. The Straight Dope triumphs again.

Glad to be of service Birdmonster. I can say without irony that this is my finest hour on the SDMB. :smiley: Go forth and spread your bagel-making wisdom far and wide.