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Bagels and Pretzels

Basic Bagels Bagels ABMChocolate Chip BagelsFresh Hot BagelsWater BagelsPhiladelphia Soft Pretzels
Basic VariationsBagels w/ VariationsEgg BagelsGoldenberg BagelsSoft Pretzels90-Minute Soft Pretzels

Bagels fascinate us with their tough, chewy, shiny exterior and soft, dense centers. The taste is unique and so we labor through two processes (boiling and baking) in order to enjoy them. The work is always worth the experience as we halve them and slaver on whatever plain or exotic filling we choose. And even when they go stale they are still delightfully useful in the form of Bagel Chips.

Basic Variations

Mini-Bagel: Use any bagel recipe to create mini's which measure about 2" in diameter. Divide one-pound recipes into 10 to 12 pieces; divide 1½-pound recipes into 12 to 15 pieces. Shape and leave a large center hole (the holes tend to close up as the bagels rise and bake). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 400°F. Watch carefully that they do not get too brown.

Bagel Stick: Shaped like a short, fat breadstick that can be served plain or covered with seeds. Use a basic Water Bagel recipe. After rising, roll the dough into a flat rectangle, spread with topping, cut into strips and shape into rounded lengths with smooth ends (6" is a good length). Proceed with the second rise, kettling and baking. Can be coated with seeds such as poppy, sesame, celery or carway before baking. Minced onions and kosher salts are also much used.

Churro Stick: A variation of the bread stick and the Mexican churro (a long roll of soft pastry dough, fried and dipped in sugar). Make a standard Bagel Stick (as above) and roll it in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. It produces a non-greasy dessert which is much lower in calories than the traditional churro.

Bagel Twist: Made with Water Bagel dough or Egg dough. It resembles a miniature challa but only 2 lengths of dough are twisted together rather than 3. Roll out 10" lengths of dough about the thickness of a pencil. Seal one end of each together with a dab of water. Twist the lengths and pinch and seal at the other end. Allow to rise a second time, then boil and sprinkle tops with poppy or sesame seeds before baking.
Variation: Use two types of dough - a dark and a white - for a colorful 2-toned twist.

Marble Bagel: Use the 2-tone dough theme (dark and light) to form single bagels. Join thin ropes of each color to produce a single rope. These look special with a glaze.

Party Bagel: Nothing more than an oversized bagel which can measure as large as the pot you're using to boil it in. These can go from 3 to 6½ lbs in size. It will need to be boiled for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side and baked until properly browned. When baked, cut it horizontally through the center and stuff with a selection of deli meats, cheeses, or lox and cream cheese, and garnish the top with tomatoes, onion rings and olives. Cut into pie shaped wedges for serving.

menuBasic Bagels
Oven: 425°FPans: Large pot and Baking sheet
1 pkg yeast
3 tsp dark brown sugar
1½ cups warm water (105°-115°)
1 tbsp salt
4 cups flour
  1. Dissolve yeast and 1½ tsp brown sugar in the warm water; set aside till bubbles form (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the remaining brown sugar and salt and stir well.
  3. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time.
  4. Knead the dough in the bowl till smooth (about 7 minutes); the dough should retain a sheen and not appear too floury; cover bowl and set aside to rest in a warm place for 40 minutes.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut a thick 2" strip from the dough; roll out the strip with the palms of your hands till it resembles a rope as thick as 2 fingers.
  6. Grip the right end of the strip with your right hand and loosely hold the middle of the coil with your left hand; bring the right end to the middle of the coil, stretching the dough slightly as you work; break off the bagel with your left hand; use the thumb of your right hand to pinch the bagel together.
  7. Place each bagel on a baking sheet and set aside in a warm place, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  8. Drop the bagels in batches into boiling water (they must NOT touch).
  9. Boil on one side for 2 minutes; turn the bagels and boil on the second side for 1½ minutes (they should firm and puff up).
  10. Carefully remove from the water and drain for 1 minute on a rack.
  11. Place bagels on baking sheet and sprinkle with the desired toppings; bake for 12 minutes; turn bagels and bake till deep golden brown all over (about 7 minutes).
  12. Cool bagels on paper towels.

menuBagels, ABM
Yield: Makes 12Oven: 450°FTools: Bread machinePans: Baking sheet
NOTE: After they are cooled they can be frozen and will last 1 month to 6 weeks.

1 cup water
1½ tbsp honey
1½ tsp salt
1 cup flour
2 cups bread flour
1½ tsp yeast
  1. Make dough in machine and allow to rise only 20 minutes.
  2. Cut into 12 pieces; roll into balls and using the thumb put a hole in the middle and turn to shape (make sure you have a good sized opening).
  3. Dust with flour if you have to; place on greased baking sheet and let rise 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Put about 2 inches of water in a pan and bring to a slight boil; carefully lower 3 or 4 bagels at a time cooking 30 seconds on each side.
  5. Remove bagels and drain on towel sprinkled with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or onion bits.
  6. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes.
  7. Also try rolling dough into rectangles and roll up a hot dog in it and seal well with water.

menuBagels with Variations
Yield: Makes 12Oven: 400°FPans: Baking sheetTools: Electric mixer
2 cups warm water
2 pkgs active dry yeast
3 tbsp sugar
3 tsp salt
5¾ cups flour
3 quarts water
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water

  1. Combine warm water, yeast and sugar; let stand 5 minutes, then stir in salt.
  2. Gradually mix in 4 cups of flour and beat at medium speed for 5 minutes.
  3. With spoon add 1¼ cups more flour to make a stiff dough.
  4. Turn out onto a floured board and knead till smooth, elastic and non-sticky (about 15 minutes), adding more flour if necessary. (Dough should be firmer than for most yeast breads).
  5. Place in a greased bowl, cover, let rise till amost doubled (about 40 minutes).
  6. Knead dough lightly and divide into 12 equal pieces.
  7. To shape, knead each piece, forming it into a smooth ball. Holding ball with both hands, poke your thumbs through the center. With one thumb in hole, work around perimeter, shaping bagel like a doughnut 3 to 3½ inches across.
  8. Place shaped bagels on lightly floured board, cover lightly and let stand in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  9. Bring the 3 quarts of water and the 1 tbsp sugar to boiling in a large kettle; adjust heat to keep it boiling gently.
  10. Lightly grease baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.
  11. Gently lift one bagel at a time and drop into water; boil about 4 at a time, turning often, for 5 minutes; lift out with slotted spatula, drain briefly on a towel and place on baking sheet.
  12. Brush with glaze made with 1 egg yolk and 1 tbsp water.
  13. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or till well browned and crusty. Cool on rack.

menuChocolate Chip Bagels
Tools: Bread machine

¾ cup water
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2¾ cup bread flour
1 tbsp malt syrup or brown sugar
1½ tsp active dry yeast
¾ tsp salt
½ cup chocolate chips

Add the chocolate chips 5 minutes before the end of the kneading phase, or else work into the dough manually. If added while in the machine, the dough will not rise as high. Proceed with the dough manually as for any other bagel.

menuEgg Bagel
Oven: 475°FPans: Pot for boiling and baking sheet
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1¼ cups water
1 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
4 cups bread flour

  1. Place the water in a large bowl; sprinkle yeast over water; add the first measure of sugar; let stand till foamy (about 10 minutes).
  2. Beat the egg; add egg to yeast mixture; stir in 75% of the flour; add the first measure of salt; stir rapidly using a fork till the flour is just moistened.
  3. Knead till the dough forms a ball; let rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl; set aside.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead till smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes), adding only as much of the remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
  6. Shape dough into a ball; place in the oiled bowl, turning once to cover surfaces; cover and let rise in a warm place away from drafts till doubles in size (about 30 minutes).
  7. Divide dough equally into pieces (one per finished bagel); shape each into a ball; flatten each ball in the palm of your hand; poke a hole in the center with your finger; stretch dough to make a hole about 1" in diameter.
  8. Lightly moisten a baking sheet with water; place the bagels on the baking sheet; cover with a cloth and let rise till doubled (50 to 60 minutes).
  9. Bring water to a boil in a skillet or kettle; add the second measures of sugar and salt to the water; boil each bagel in the water for 1 minute per side; place a linen towel on the baking sheet and transfer the bagels to the towel; bake 5 minutes and remove from oven.
  10. Turn the bagels over onto an ungreased baking sheet (without the towel) and bake till golden brown and the bagels make a hollow sound when gently tapped (20-25 minutes); serve warm or at room temp.

menuFresh Hot Bagels
Yield: Makes 18Oven: 375°FPans: Pot for water and baking sheet
NOTE: Top bagels with poppy or sesame seeds, remove them from the oven after 10 minutes of baking; brush them with 1 egg white beaten with 1 tbsp water, sprinkle with seeds; continue baking till golden.

1 pkg active dry yeast
1½ cup warm water
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
4 cups flour
1 gallon water

  1. Stir yeast into 1½ cups warm water in large bowl; let stand till bubbly (about 5 minutes).
  2. Stir in sugar, salt and enough flour to make soft dough.
  3. Knead dough on lightly floured board till smooth and elastic, adding remaining flour as necessary.
  4. Let dough stand covered in warm place 15 minutes; punch down dough; roll on lightly floured board to rectangle 13x4-inches (about 1-inch thick).
  5. Cut dough into 18 strips with floured knife; roll each strip gently to form rope ½-inch thick; moisten ends and press together to form bagels.
  6. Place bagels on floured cookie sheets; let stand covered 20 minutes.
  7. Heat 1 gallon water to boiling; reduce heat to medium; place 3 or 4 bagels in pot; simmer uncovered for 7 minutes (no longer); drain on towel; repeat with remaining bagels.
  8. Bake bagels on ungreased cookie sheets till golden (30 to 35 minutes); cool on wire rack.

menuGoldenberg Bagels
Yield: Makes 12Oven: 450°FPans: Pot for water and baking sheet
NOTE: Recipe taught at the New York cooking school.

¾ pint warm water
2 pkgs dry yeast
1½ oz sugar
½ oz salt
3½ cups bread flour
2 quarts boiling water
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg white, beaten
sesame, poppy or caraway seeds (optional)

  1. Mix yeast, 1½-oz of sugar and warm water; let stand 2 or 3 minutes.
  2. Mix 2 cups flour and the salt and add to the yeast mixture; add remaining 1½ cups flour; knead for 5 minutes, adding flour if dough sticks to table; bagel dough should be firm.
  3. Place dough in a clean, greased bowl; cover and let rise till double.
  4. Bring water to a boil and add 1 tbsp sugar.
  5. Divide dough into 12 pieces and shape each into a ball; allow the dough to relax 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Flatten with your plam; with your thumb, press deep into the center of the bagel and tear open with your fingers; pull the hole open.
  7. Place bagels on a baking sheet and cover for about 10 minutes.
  8. Put 2 or 3 bagels at a time into simmering water for about 45 seconds, turning once; drain and place on greased baking sheets.
  9. Brush with beaten egg white and spirnkle with salt, sesame, poppy or caraway seeds.
  10. Bake for 35 minutes, turning over when bagels are light brown; bagels are done when they are brown and shiny.
  11. Cool on rack.

menuWater Bagels
Oven: 400°FPans: Pot for boiling and baking sheet
1 cup milk, scalded
3¾ cup flour
¼ cup butter
2 quarts water, almost boiling
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg white, beaten
1 pkg active dry yeast
2 eggs

  1. Combine scalded milk, butter, sugar and salt; warm gently to a temperature of between 105°-115°.
  2. Remove from heat and add and dissolve the yeast in the mixture; wait 3 minutes while the yeast works.
  3. Blend in eggs and flour; knead this soft dough for 10 minutes, adding flour if needed to make it firm enough to handle.
  4. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise till doubled in bulk.
  5. Punch down and divide into equal parts (one part for each finished bagel).
  6. Roll each piece into a rope about 7-inches long and tapered at the ends; wet ends and form a doughnut-shaped ring from each rope.
  7. Cover and let rise on a floured board for about 15 minutes; place in a refrigerator for 2 hours to firm up the dough.
  8. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar; drop the rings, one at a time, into the boiling sugar water; when the bagels surface, turn them over and cook an additional 3 minutes; skim the bagels out of the water and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
  9. Coat each with beaten egg white; bake in the oven till golden brown (the longer you bake, the crisper the bagel).

menuSoft Pretzels
Yield: Makes 12Oven: 375°FPans: Baking sheetTools: Electric mixer
NOTE: Large coarse salt, especially for this type of baking, is available from King Arthur baking supply catalog.

3½ cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 pkg dry yeast
1 cup water
1 tbsp butter
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tbsp water
coarse salt

  1. Mix 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
  2. Heat 1 cup water and butter to 120-130°F
  3. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Add ½ cup flour and beat on high speed for 2 minutes more.
  5. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough.
  6. Knead dough 5 minutes on floured board.
  7. Place in greased bowl, flipping once to cover all surfaces.
  8. Cover and let rise in warm place for 40 minutes.
  9. Divide dough into 12 equal parts.
  10. Roll each into a 20-inch rope and shape into a pretzel.
  11. Place on greased baking sheets.
  12. Cover and let rest 5 minutes.
  13. Mix egg yolk and 1 tbsp water; brush on pretzels.
  14. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
  15. Bake for 15 minutes or till done; cool on racks.

menuPhiladelphia Soft Pretzels
Yield: Makes 16Oven: 450°FPans: Baking sheet
1 pkg active dry yeast (1 tbsp)
2 cups lukewarm water
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
5½ cups flour
1 egg, beaten (optional)
6 cups water
2 tbsp baking soda
kosher or pretzel salt

  1. Dissolve yeast in water; add sugar; let it rest 5 minutes.
  2. Stir one cup flour and the tbsp of salt into the yeast mixture, then add the rest of the flour.
  3. Flour your hands and the kneading surface; knead 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to reduce stickiness; allow to rest about 3 minutes, then knead again till the dough is smooth and elastic, but has no sticky feel to it.
  4. Place dough ball in a greased bowl, flipping once to cover all surfaces; cover and allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours or till doubled in bulk.
  5. Punch down and divide into 16 pieces; roll each piece into a 20-inch rope.
  6. Twist each rope into a pretzel shape.
  7. Cover and let rest 20 minutes.
  8. Boil the 6 cups of water in a pot and add the baking soda to the water.
  9. Using a slotted spoon gently place 3 or 4 pretzels in the simmering water; cook for one minute and remove to a non-stick or lightly greased baking sheet.
  10. Brush with beaten egg; sprinkle with pretzel salt.
  11. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or till lightly browned and crusty.

menu90-Minute Soft Pretzels
Yield: Makes 12Oven: 375°FPans: Baking sheetTools: Electric mixer
3½ cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup water
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp water
1 egg yolk, beaten
coarse salt

  1. Mix 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and undissolved yeast.
  2. Heat 1 cup water and butter to 120-130°; gradually add to dry ingredients; beat 2 minutes at medium speed of mixer.
  3. Add ½ cup of flour and beat at high speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough.
  5. On floured surface, knead 5 minutes.
  6. Set in greased bowl, turning once to coat all surfaces; cover and let rise 40 minutes.
  7. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces; roll each into a 20-inch rope; shape into pretzels.
  8. Place on greased baking sheets; cover; let rest 5 minutes.
  9. Mix egg yolk and 1 tbsp water; brush on pretzels; sprinkle with coarse salt; bake for 15 minutes or till done; cool on racks.

©1999 & 2004 by Ernestina Parziale, CH