BBA #3: Bagels (and a topping recipe)

Bagel Sandwich

Since embarking on the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge, I have really been looking forward to making the bagels.  Before I moved to Virginia, I had a small problem– shall we say– with bagels.  In particular, everything bagels are irresistable to me.  I love them.  I’ll eat them plain, buttered, with raspberry jam.  Nothing compares to a bagel sandwich made with those savory little toppings crusting the bagel.  Athens afforded me many opportunities to eat them.  My favorite coffee shop sold great ones, Big City Bread made good ones, and Zim’s Bagel Bakery had perfected them.  When my husband and I visit Tallahassee every year, we always seek out Bagelheads for a bagel sandwich served with crunchy cole slaw on our way out of town.  Now, Zim’s has closed and I have moved.  I thought great bagels would be easier to find, but there are no good bagels that I have found or tried up here yet.  I vowed they would be one of the first things I made in my new kitchen.  Before I got the chance, though, I signed up to bake my way through this book, and one of the major motivations to do so was that bagel recipe.  

Now that I’ve made the bagel recipe, let me say that I recommend it strongly.  The bagels are perfect.  They are chewy, they are flavorful, and they are easy.  They do take a bit of time, but I would ask that you not be put off by that.  Most of the time is spent waiting, not working.  I decided to begin my bagels this past Saturday evening, after returning from a quick overnight trip to Blacksburg.  I was a little tired, but I really wanted to have these available for Sunday’s lunch.  We usually skip breakfast on Sundays, so I figured this would make the perfect meal.  My husband adores everything bagels as much as I do, so this was a treat he was really anticipating.

I started by making the sponge according to Reinhart’s directions.   I took a large mixing bowl, and mixed the yeast into the flour.  I did not use high-gluten flour, so I added 1 teaspoon of vital wheat gluten to each cup of bread flour in the sponge; this came out to 4 teaspoons.  I added the vital wheat gluten to the measuring cup before scooping out the flour, so that the flour would equal 1 cup minus 1 teaspoon of actual bread flour.  I added room temperature water, covered the sponge in plastic wrap, and left it for two hours.

Bagel Sponge

After two hours, the sponge had doubled in size, and it was bubbly and foamy.  It did not collapse when I tapped the bowl on the counter, but degassed very quickly when I poked it.  Close enough.  I added the additional yeast to the sponge and the remaining flour.  I added vital wheat gluten to this bread flour in the same way that I did for the sponge.  I also added salt and malt powder.  I mixed per the recipe directions, adding the final 3/4 C of flour after the dough made a ball.  I then removed the dough from the bowl and proceeded to knead.  As usual, I kneaded by hand.  The dough quickly reached the correct temperature, but failed to windowpane after 15 minutes of kneading.  I continued kneading for another 15 minutes before my dough passed the windowpane test.  The dough also stayed very tacky throughout much of the kneading, so I continued adding flour until the texture became satiny and did not stick to my hands.  I probably added another cup of flour in this manner.  I am not sure of the exact measurement, as I add the flour very slowly– a small handful at a time.  

At this point, I divide the dough up with my bench scraper, shaped the dough into rolls, and let it proof under a damp towel for 20 minutes.  When I returned the rolls had risen a bit and were beautiful.  I lined two baking pans; for one I used my Silpat, and the other I used parchment paper.  I misted each with spray oil, and shaped my bagels.  I placed 6 bagels on each pan, covered them with plastic wrap, and let them hang out for another 2o minutes.  After the time had passed, I filled a large mixing bowl with room temperature water and dropped a bagel in.  It floated, so I knew they were ready to be retarded in the fridge.  This was the most punctual dough I had worked with yet.  

Sunday morning, I awoke and removed my bagels from the fridge. They had risen just a bit overnight, but they looked great and were ready to boil. 

Bagels Shaped

I boiled the bagels for 1 minute per side in water with a tablespoon of baking soda added.  I ended up boiling three bagels at a time so as not to crowd the pot.  As soon as I removed the bagels, I sprinkled on my everything bagel topping (recipe at the bottom of the page).  When all the bagels had been boiled, I baked them on two racks in the center of my oven at 500º.  After 5 minutes I lowered the temperature as directed. After another 5 minutes, I didn’t feel like the bagels were quite baked enough, so I let them bake another five minutes.  They came out a beautiful golden brown.  


This was definitely my favorite recipe so far, and the everything bagel topping I made tasted just like those in my favorite bagel shops.  Below, I have the quick recipe for the quantities needed to top a dozen bagels.  It’s not much in terms of a recipe, but it will make your bagels taste divine. 

Bagel Topping

Everything  Bagel Topping

  • 4 tsp poppy seeds
  • 4 tsp sesame seeds
  • 4 tsp dried garlic flakes
  • 4 tsp dried onion flakes
  • 4 tsp coarse grained kosher or sea salt

Mix all ingredients together well in a small bowl.  Use to liberally top bagels as soon as they emerge from their water bath.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container.  Will keep up to two months.

Tops 12 large bagels or 24 mini bagels.

This is some more yeasty goodness I’m sending over to Yeastspotting.

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge was developed by Nicole of Pinch My Salt. You can see what we’re baking this week at our Flickr group, on Twitter (#BBA), or check out the challenge page.

Bookmark and Share

40 thoughts on “BBA #3: Bagels (and a topping recipe)

  1. Oh my, your “everything” topping looks divine!!! Where do you get garlic flakes? I’ve seen the powder, and the salt…

    • Thanks, Jenn. You can find the garlic flakes in the spice section of the grocery store. I could only find them in the store brand, so they are not the most available item.

    • Thanks, Susie! I definitely want to leave a good record here for those that are baking these after me. They were delicious – I definitely recommend the topping blend.

  2. Ok this is my last bagel post I am going to read tonight…they look sooo good and I do not want to be tempted to start a batch right now. I loved making them…even in an outdoor kitchen!On to Brioche…Happy baking!

    • Oh, Peter, you’ve got to watch out! My husband is hell-bent these days on me opening a bakeshop in this town….just so he can buy bagels and cupcakes! They were a lot of fun, but I don’t want to turn them into work. 🙂

    • Thanks, Oggi. These are the best bagels I’ve ever had that I didn’t purchase. And, it rivals the ones I’ve bought. I’m satisfied. Especially since there’s not a bagel shop around for miles.

  3. Nice on the topping! Mine just got a simple salt, poppy seed, or parmesan cheese topping. Creativity was shot at that point and I second curse you evil sponge!

    • Your topping sounds pretty good, too! Hey, the evil sponge in the end did respond to the loud music and your anger. Now you just know you’ve got to be extra firm with the dough!

  4. I haven’t made bagels for awhile….your topping recipe has me sold! I will definitely make these as they are my family’s favorite. Thank you for sharing!

  5. They look great! I’m starting my bagels tomorrow so I can send the majority of them (I’m going to make the mini-bagels) to work with the other half on Friday.

  6. i am EXTREMELY impressed. bagels are one bread item that i’ve yet to tackle, but yours are positively perfect! that topping is a most magnificent blend too, and of course, the sandwich is delightful!

    • Oh, Susan — let me encourage you to bake (or even buy some really good) bagels, and make yourself a sandwich! Throw a pickle spear on the side, maybe some crunchy cole slaw, and you are set! I have to say, Reinhart’s bagel recipe is a winner in my book.

  7. Pingback: YeastSpotting June 5, 2009 | Wild Yeast

    • Oh, the everything topping is my weakness. I have few bagels frozen, and I still nearly bought another dozen on impulse when I saw some at a bakery. Restraint is not one of my finer points.

  8. I own a couple of Mr. Reinhart’s books, so I’m very interest in this challenge. I make soft pretzels on a regular basis, but I’ve never tried bagels. These look great.

    I’m interested in using this topping recipe on my pretzels.

    I also appreciate you sharing some dining tips from your locale.

    Today will be in the high 90’s with a heat index of 105, so I won’t be doing any baking.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • His books are great, aren’t they? Bagels are really worth the effort; they were so good, and they remain my favorite recipe thus far. I think the topping would be great on pretzels, and you could even increase the salt ratio just a bit for them to be more traditional. It’s definitely hot for baking, but I’ve got a summer-long commitment. God bless A/C.

  9. Pingback: BBA Challenge #3 – Bagels « Bon Vivant

  10. Great idea to add wheat gluten to bread flour – I ordered high-gluten flour from KA which took a while to arrive, I’ll know for next time to try the gluten+bread flour method, topped with your recipe! Lovely blog and pictures!

    • Thank you – I’m glad you enjoy it! The vital wheat gluten worked perfectly. I actually went that route because I was too cheap to buy high-gluten flour, not being sure when I would use it again. More bagels, duh. I should have known. 🙂

  11. This topping looks soooo yummy. I’ve bookmarked the recipe for future reference. I’ll make BBA bagels again soon (as soon as I catch up to the group).

  12. I suggest that you make a larger recipe of Everything Topping. After taking the bagel out of the boiling water drop the bagel into a bowl of Everything Topping and flip it over. Lightly press the bagel into the mixture on both sides. An additional lite sprinkling of garlic powder is also good once you have put the bagel on parchment paper lined pizza screen
    When taking the bagels out of the oven (finished baking) have a misting bottle of water to spray down the bagel – be generous and do it immediately (don’t wait more than 5 seconds). This will create an even glossy hard crust.

    I would suggest adding some dehydrated garlic and onions to the dough. Also a small amount of coarsely chopped pine nuts or whole sunflower seeds are a nice extra touch to mix into the dough.

    Additional ingredients to consider for Everything Topping – Flax Seed and for a unique taste consider – Fennel Seed, or Anise Seed, or Caraway Seed.

    Then make your own schmear – cream cheese, low fat milk, white pepper is the initial base and then get creative:

    Spicy Garlic (Garlic Powder and Habenaro Powder)

    Chipped Beef (thinly sliced dried beef) and Green Onions

    Chopped Cucumber, Green Onion, and Dill

    Shredded Cheddar (or cheese tang), Chopped Bacon

    Shredded Cheddar (or cheese tang), Chopped Jalepenos, and Green Onions

    Shredded Cheddar (or cheese tang), and Horseradish

    Minced carrot, celery, green onion, sweet red pepper, and Lea and Perrins
    Chicken Worcestershire Sauce

    Great Sandwich – scrambled egg cooked in small flan cup, sausage patty, and home made schmear (spicy garlic – my favorite) on a toasted Everything Bagel.

  13. I was eating an everything bagel while reading this. I was saddened when I saw yours because it was so much more delectable than mine. I look forward to trying your recipe!

  14. I use sugar water instead. Its the Montreal Style bagels. I’m going to try your toppings through. Thanks Lynne

  15. Pingback: BBA Challenge #3 – Bagels | Beyond [the Plate]

  16. I would give anything for a Zim’s everything with chicken salad right now!! The chicken salad was so simple, but no idea how they made it!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s