Homemade Bagels

As you can probably imagine, I am quite content in Rome gastronomically speaking – I thoroughly enjoy my expertly made morning cappuccino, delight over the divine pizza with mozzarella di bufala that I can pick up to go at the pizzeria next to my house, and go crazy for the made to order cannoli at my favorite bakery. Despite the abundance of excellent food in Rome however, there are often moments when I find myself craving certain purely American things that are just not readily available there – a burger with sweet potato fries, soft serve ice cream on a sugar cone with sprinkles, and, most of all, that classic American breakfast favorite – bagels, aka the first thing I seek out and eat when I am back in Rhode Island.  

A quick explanation of bagels for our non-American readers – a bagel is a sort of bread, which is formed in to a circle with a whole in the middle, and made with yeasted dough that is first boiled in water and then baked. Bagels are extremely versatile. They come in a variety of flavors (plain, cinnamon raisin, wheat, or poppy seed, to name just a few) and are great served with peanut butter, jelly, butter, or my favorite, cream cheese. They are also commonly eaten with smoked salmon or cream cheese, or lox, or used as bread for a breakfast sandwich – egg, bacon, and cheese on a bagel anyone? Yummm. 

There are a handful of places in Rome that have bagels, but most of them have so far disappointed -- the most recent bagel establishment I visited served a bagel with a dusting of powdered sugar and fruit, as if it were a dessert – an interesting reinterpretation of the bagel perhaps, but not exactly what I had in mind. Not to be deterred I decided to give these homemade bagels a try in an attempt to satisfy my bagel craving when in Italy, and I must say, I’m so happy I did – these homemade bagels delicious, have a perfectly chewy crust and soft interior, and toast perfectly. In short, bagel heaven. 

If the idea of making your own bagels at home is intimidating, rest assured that this is a ridiculously easy recipe – just mix your ingredients together in a bowl, leave them for an hour, shape the bagels, and you’re good to go. Enjoy! 


1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups water, warm (100-110F)
4 cups bread flour (not all purpose)
1 tbsp salt
1 egg, for egg wash

In a large bowl combine the yeast, sugar and water, and let it stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and salt with a wooden spoon, and mix the dough thoroughly until it comes together in to a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add a little more flour or water if needed. Turn the dough out on to a work surface lightly dusted with flour and knead it until very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place dough in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
When the dough has risen, turn it out onto you work surface and divide it in to 10 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball, pinching the corners together at the bottom of the piece of dough. When all the balls are shaped, let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with a clean dish towel.
After the 30 minutes are up, you can start to make the bagels in to the classic bagel shape.  Using your fingers, poke a hole through the center of each ball of dough. Stretch out the dough into a ring with your fingers and be sure to make the hole a little larger than you want the finished bagel to have, as it will shrink slightly when the bagel expands during the baking process. Let bagels rest for about 10 minutes.

Drop 3 or so bagels into the boiling water, and boil for 2 minutes on the first side, then flip and boil for an additional minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bagels to a clean towel to drain for a moment, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat this process with the remaining bagels.

Brush the boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg and bake for 20-24 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool the bagels completely, then slice, toast, and enjoy with whatever topping you want. 

Makes 10 bagels.

Recipe from www.BakingBites.com.

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