Bagels are something I’ve wanted to try for a while and luckily The Bread Bible had a great looking recipe that I gave a shot. Since this was an experimental batch I used half the amount the full recipe proscribed which produced 5 (very nice!) bagels. I used sesame seeds as a topping since I had them on hand, but in future I may try poppy seeds or onion.

I was pretty satisfied with the end result - the bagels were quite solid on the outside and really chewy inside (in a nice, satisfying way). In the next batch I try I will probably submerge the bagels in the boiling water for less time and see if that produces a softer exterior.

I will also work on my shaping technique!

pre-ferment bagels risen and shaped

dough in dutch oven boiling the bagels - this gives them a harder, chewy exterior

finished bread in dutch oven finished bagels

crust the crumb - satisfyingly chewy

rising time
baking time
total time


Dough Starter (Sponge)
  • 234g white flour
  • 4g fresh yeast
  • 266ml lukewarm water
Flour Mixture
  • 21g unsalted butter
  • 182g white flour
  • 4g fresh yeast
  • 10g brown sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 0.5 tsp black pepper
Water Bath
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
Glaze and Toppings
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp cold water
  • handful of sesame seeds


  1. Make the sponge by combining the dough starter ingredients in a large bowl and whisking together until smooth.

  2. Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl and gently scoop on top of the sponge to cover it. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest somewhere warm for 2 hours. During this time, the sponge will bubble up through the flour layer in places.

  3. Add the butter to the sponge/flour mixture and combine with a wooden spoon. Knead the dough for 5 minutes and then let it rest for 20 minutes underneath the upturned bowl, as this will make it easier to work with. Then knead for another 5-10 minutes, until it is smooth and bounces back when you indent it.

  4. Put the dough in a suitably oiled rising container and cover it with cling film. Leave it to rise somewhere warm for an hour, until doubled. Deflate the dough, give a business letter turn and put it back into the container. Let it rise in the fridge for 4 hours. Before you shape it, let it stand at room temperature for 30 mins.

  5. Divide the dough into 5 balls and shape into bagels. Make the holes wider than you would think, since they will puff up during the boiling and baking stage. Let them rest under a towel for 10 minutes.

  6. Preheat the oven to 230°C. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the sugar and baking soda. Stir until dissolved. Put the bagels in 2 at a time and flip them over after 1 minute or so. Let the bagels rest on an oiled parchment sheet while you submerge the rest of the bagels.

  7. Whisk together the egg whites and cold water, and glaze the bagels with a brush. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top of the glazing.

  8. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven (preferably on top of a baking stone) and let them bake for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven and without opening it let the bagels rest for 5 minutes. Open the oven door and let the bagels rest for a further 5 minutes.

  9. Transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely.