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Bagels - A Simple Recipe

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A photograph of freshly baked bagels

Bagels are brilliant, let's face it. Anyone who doesn’t think so has probably only ever had shop bought, mass-produced ones. If this is the case, you really need to try these easy to make bagels. They may look complicated, but they're really not and this recipe will show you how to make a dozen delicious homemade bagels.


  • 250ml warm water
  • 1tsp dried yeast
  • 1tsp granulated sugar
  • 500g white strong/bread flour
  • 10g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50ml olive oil


Firstly you need to get your yeast going. You can mix all the ingredients in together from the start, but it doesn't always work. Mix the granulated sugar in the warm water until it's completely dissolved, then stir in the dried yeast. Put this in a warm place for about half an hour to get going. You'll know when it's ready because it'll have a frothy head to it rather than just being a brown, murky liquid. If it doesn't start frothing, make sure it's warm enough (about blood temperature) and leave it for a bit longer until it does.

Once your yeast is ready, put all of the remaining dry ingredients together into a bowl and pour the yeast mixture on top, then add the olive oil. Now start to mix all this together with your hands to until you have a very sticky dough.

Turn the dough out onto a dry, clean, and flour-dusted worktop and start kneading it. This is incredibly sticky at this point so make sure to keep re-dusting the worktop and the dough, this helps to absorb all the gloopiness and makes kneading much easier. Keep kneading until the dough has stopped being sticky, and is instead smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball and put it back into your cleaned mixing bowl, then put the bowl inside a plastic bag (or a bin liner if it's a really big bowl) and place it somewhere warm. The plastic bag sounds daft but it keeps all the moisture in and stops your dough from drying out and getting a crust.

After somewhere between half an hour and an hour your dough should have doubled in size, due to the yeast fermenting and forming air bubbles inside it. Now, get the dough out onto a clean, dry, flour-dusted worktop and gently push down on it with your fingertips to remove any large air bubbles. As you push down on the dough you'll see them come to the top and pop. If you don't do this, then you'll have big holes inside your bagels.

Next, divide the dough into roughly 12 even pieces, roll each piece out into a sausage shape and curl the ends together and stick them to each other with a bit of water and a gentle squeeze. These will look small at this point, but don't worry about that.

Place the uncooked bagels onto flat baking sheets, cover with a clean cloth and leave them somewhere warm to settle (the correct term is "prove") and swell back up a bit. You don't want to put these into a bag this time or they'll stick to the trays and become stretched and deformed when you try to get them off.

After about an hour they should now be ready to poach. And this is the weird bit. Get a big saucepan, fill it with boiling water, and get it to a nice, gentle simmer. Now, put your raw bagels into the pan a couple at a time, making sure to leave some space because they will puff up a bit more. Poach them for two minutes each side, then scoop them out onto a clean cloth to dry them out.

When they're all poached, put the oven on to Gas Mark 6 (200°C) and lightly grease your baking sheets and put your bagels onto them, again making sure there's room for a bit of expansion. Brush the top of your bagels with a bit of milk and sprinkle with some poppy or sesame seeds if you like, or just leave them plain.

Bake them in the oven for 15 minutes until they look golden on top.

When they're done, take them out and put them on a wire rack to cool. And that's it.

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