Thursday, March 10, 2011

Whole Wheat Bagels

I've been wanting to get my bagel recipe perfected. I have several recipes I've used at various times. Some use a pre-ferment stretching the process out to two days. Other recipes were mostly white flour and I wanted to use whole grains.

I've been making bagels every Saturday for the past couple weeks and think I have it down perfect. At least, Ed says these are good enough to continue as a Saturday tradition! He is one person (and my children count for four more) that isn't complaining about my baking binges!

You can use white flour if you prefer. You'll probably use slightly more than five cups of flour if using white flour.

Bagel dough is just a basic bread dough which contains no fat and is rather stiff. The uniqueness of a bagel is placing them in boiling water before baking. This stops some of the yeast action which makes for the chewy texture that we love in a bagel.

I've almost completely stopped using extra gluten in bread doughs but I do still add a little to bagels. But it is optional. 

We like to split the bagels, butter them and place on a baking sheet under the broiler for a few minutes. It is a fast way to toast bagels for the whole family. Add cream cheese and you have a yummy breakfast! We also love bagels as the base of an egg, ham and cheese sandwich. Mmmm!

Whole Wheat Bagels

2 1/4 cup warm water
2 T honey
2 tsp yeast
5 cups flour
1 T vital gluten (optional)
2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes. Mix dough, adding more flour if needed. The dough should be easy to handle and not too sticky. Knead for 10 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl and allow to raise until double (about an hour). An alternate method is to place the dough in a covered bowl in the refrigerate overnight. This helps develop the flavor of the dough - plus makes less work on the day you plan to bake.

After the dough is risen, (or when you take it from the refrigerator) divide in 12 balls (or smaller if you wish) You may also add any additional ingredients at this time such raisins and cinnamon. (more information at the bottom)

I form bagels by rolling the dough in a smooth ball then pushing my fingers through the center and stretching. The center hole will need to be rather large since when the bagel rises, the hole will decrease.

Cover the bagels with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rest for about 20 minutes. If the dough is cold, it may take slightly longer. You don't want them to over rise. To test if the bagels are ready, drop a bagel in a bowl of cold water. They are ready to bake when the bagel floats. There is no need to test them all. When one bagel "floats" they are all ready.

While the bagels rest, prepare your boiling water. In a large pan, place about 2 quart of water and 1 T baking soda. Bring the water to boil. Drop your bagels in the boiling water. Depending on the size of pan, you can boil several bagels at a time. They should immediately float. Boil for one minute. About half way through, I turn the bagels over.

Remove bagels from water and place on a baking sheet. Bagels are notorious for sticking to the pan. I like to use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. If you have neither, grease the pan well. They won't rise much in the oven, so you can place the bagels close together.

If you wish, sprinkle bagels with sesame seeds or poppy seeds before baking. You also may brush with a beaten egg white for a shiny look, though I usually don't. Bake bagels at 450 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

For cinnamon raisin bagels - For one batch of bagels, use 1 cup of raisins and 1 tsp of cinnamon. I usually divide the dough in half and only add 1/2 cup of raisins to half the batch. After raising the first time, I roll the dough out thinly and sprinkle on the raisins and cinnamon. Roll up tightly and knead briefly to incorporate the raisins. Divide and shape into bagels and proceed according to the recipe. Some of the raisins will fall out of the bagels as you boil them but I have found if raisins are not falling out, I haven't added enough raisins!

After baking, a yummy touch is to brush the bagels with butter and dip the tops in cinnamon sugar. It dries into a yummy crust - but it is also messy so I don't often take the time for this step and it is still good!

Hope you try them! Right now, this is my favorite recipe on this blog - and that is saying a lot since I have shared LOTS of favorite recipes!


  1. Gina, I'm so excited to try these. I've wanted to find a good recipe that isn't too complicated. We love bagels but we want them to be a bit smaller than commercial bagels are sized. Now I can make my own. Thank you so much for sharing your gifts and talens.

  2. Those look REALLY yummy!!!! I've never made bagels but just might have to try, thank you for sharing the recipe:)

  3. Mmmm, looks so good. I'm definitely going to try this recipe.

    Oh, and your daughter looks so cute. Reminds me a lot of my girls a few years ago. Enjoy it now - they grow up so fast.

  4. How fun! I think I saw bagels in the Artisan bread book. I can't wait to try that. I've never imagined making my own bagels. When I do, I will keep your tips handy. This weekend...french bread. My brother and family come next week so I'm going to practice ahead of time.

  5. Thank-you for posting this Gina. I too will be making these.

  6. Gina,

    Wow, I am going to try these with one of my granddaughters; she loves bagels. She will be surprised that we can make them!

    Your little one is a doll!! Loves the camera too!


  7. Gina,
    I just made these for the family...and all I can say is...DELICIOUS! We are in love! The only problem I had was that I didn't have any parchment paper, so I greased the pan really well, but most of the bagels still stuck so badly that they are now missing a thin layer on the bottom!:-) So, I will pick up some paper and we will have complete success! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipes! You are truly a blessing!

  8. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog. I spent one whole evening last week reading it and must say you are an inspiring young lady. Keep up the good work. I will be trying your bagel recipe this week and tell you how it comes out. I have added you to my google reader and can not wait for more posts.

  9. I'm so glad I came upon your blog! I've been looking for the perfect bagel recipe, and yours look great. I will try it this weekend. :)

  10. I made these today and I LOVE THEM !!!! They were so easy and simple. I had it in my head that bagels were hard and complicated to make. This recipe is a real keeper. Thanks so much for sharing. I love your blog and the recipes you share. Have a blessed day !!!!

  11. Hi, my name is Rachel. I found your bagel recipe through Kristine Fuller's blog. I have a few questions about your yummy looking bagels.

    Do you use just wheat flour or do you use a combination of white and wheat?

    Have you ever added oatmeal?

    What about peanut butter?

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! Can't wait to try it!!!
    (my email )

  12. Rachel -
    Thanks for writing! I have used a mixture of white and wheat for bagels but this recipe I found works great with all whole wheat flour. I use freshly ground flour, don't know if that makes a difference. Give it a try and see what you like.

    I've never added oatmeal, or peanut butter. But it sounds yummy! I may need to do some experimenting!


  13. Just found your blog today. I was excited to read about your bagel making experience. I've made bagels a couple of times recently, but wasn't sure how 100% whole wheat would work. I mixed up a batch on Friday night and baked them in the morning. My family enjoyed the fresh bagels for breakfast. I drain my bagels on a cooling rack after boiling them and I don't have trouble with them sticking to the baking sheet.

  14. hi Gina!
    I discovered a little trick for preventing bagels from sticking: before putting them in the oven, I pick up each bagel and set it down again. I don't know exactly why this works, but if they come out of the boiling water, sit on the greased sheet, and don't get moved, they stick awfully.

    Also, a question: my recipe calls for honey in the boiling water. I skip it because I can't tell what it adds. What does the baking soda do in the boiling water in your recipe?

  15. Margo
    Great hint! The last batch I made a few weeks ago, I drained the bagels well on a towel before placing them on a baking sheet - and no sticking! But your idea sounds even easier!

    And you have a very good question - one I don't know the answer! I have seen honey or sugar in recipes. Maybe it adds a slight sweetness to the outside - but it would be so little, I'd rather add a little honey to the dough. Or is the honey to add a caramelized color? Neither do I know why baking soda to the water. I might need to do some research!

  16. What a cute kid. This just shows that bagels are truly loved not only by adults but by kids as well. This recipe of yours is just perfectly healthy for kids. I am pretty sure that these are also as delicious as the other bagels. I will certainly have to try this. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Hi. Just made the bagels and they are great. Thanks for the recipe. I didn't have enough whole wheat flour so it became a mix of whole wheat, rye, buckwheat and bwhite bread flour.:-D It still turned out yummy.



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