Homemade bagels are surprisingly easy to make and this authentic Jewish bagel recipe from Europe will win you over for sure! Knead the dough, shape it, boil it, and bake it. Use this recipe to make fun bagel sandwiches or top your bagels with your favorite cream cheese for an amazing New York breakfast experience.
How to make bagels
Bagels are easy to make at home! All you need are a few basic ingredients and some even more basic baking skills. I did some research on making authentic Jewish bagels (because Jews invented bagels in Europe). I tested several recipes for you and ate lots of bagels to find the best authentic bagel recipe (the kind that existed before they became famous in New York).
After making the simple yeast dough, you will let it rise and shape your bagels. The word bagel came from the German word 'Bügel,' which is a stirrup. It makes sense now that bagels are shaped like rings.
There are two ways to shape bagels. You can either make a roll, then poke a hole through the middle using both thumbs, and stretch the bagels into shape. You can also shape strings and connect each string into a ring.
Bagels are a special kind of baked good because they are boiled in water before baking them. I add a little salt to my boiling water.
After boiling the bagels, brush them with an egg white wash and top them to your liking (or leave them plain). I find it easiest to roll the bagel in the topping.
Bake your bagels, then eat them fresh (best if eaten within 5 hours after baking). I like to pre-slice my leftover bagels and store them airtight in either the fridge or the freezer. This way they are ready to pop into the toaster whenever you get a craving.
Where do bagels come from?
Bagels are not actually from New York City, even though New York bagels are to thank for their fame. Bagels are actually a Jewish invention and came from somewhere in Europe.
There are many stories that talk about how bagels are invented. The most known story about the invention of this ring-shaped roll starts with a Jewish baker in Vienna in 1683. He first baked bagels for a Polish king.
The bagel shape was supposed to resemble stirrups (Steigbügel or Bügel in German) because the king’s favorite pastime was riding horses. Nobody really knows if this is true, but Bügel to me does sound a lot like bagel. The hole in the middle also made it easier to transport bagels as they could be stacked or tied together.
What’s known though is that Polish-Jewish immigrants into the US (and mainly NYC) are to thank for the bagel making it big and becoming a staple breakfast food in the United States. And they are becoming more and more popular in Germany as well.
There are just a few ingredients needed to make authentic Jewish bagels.
- Flour. I use all-purpose flour and have gotten great results. You could also use bread flour for your bagels.
- Salt. I use fine sea salt in my bagel recipe.
- Oil. A flavor-neutral oil is best, such as avocado or even vegetable oil.
- Yeast. I use active-dry yeast and store it in the fridge.
- Malt Syrup. Barley malt syrup gives the bagel a touch of warm, malty flavor. I keep mine in the fridge and it's lasted me for years. I also use it for some bread-baking recipes such as my Müsli Brötchen breakfast rolls. Use sugar if you don't want to buy malt syrup.
- Egg. A whole eggs goes into the recipe and another egg white is used to brush on the bagel after boiling it and before baking it.
- Toppings. Toppings are optional, but I love them so much. I love adding seeds like sesame seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. Another great option is adding grated cheese on top. Gruyère or aged gouda are some favorite cheeses to add to homemade bagels. You could also work chocolate chips, roasted garlic or hot peppers into your bagel dough. If adding chocolate chips, I like chilling my bagel dough before shaping the bagels. This way you're not smearing melted chocolate all over your bagels.
Also check out my pretzel bagels for a fun twist on the traditional bagel.
Homemade Bagels (Authentic Jewish Recipe)
- 1 Strainer
- 1 egg white to mix with water and brush on the bagels before topping and baking
- seeds Optional. Such as sesame seeds, poppy seeds or pumpkin seeds. You can also use cheese or other toppings.
- Combine all ingredients for the bagel dough and knead on the lowest setting of your stand mixer for 5 minutes, then another 10 minutes on the second setting until you end up with a smooth, firm dough.500 grams all-purpose flour, 300 milliliters water, 10 grams salt, 10 grams oil, 3 grams active-dry yeast, ½ teaspoon malt syrup, 1 egg
- Cover and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Portion the dough into 9 equal parts (100 g or 3.5 oz each), roll out into 20 to 25 cm long strings (about 10 inches), then fold over the ends and press together.
- Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and cover with a clean linen towel. Let rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
- You can optionally complete the previous steps the night before baking bagels (making this a super quick process the next morning). Cover them with a clean linen towel and put them in your fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 230℃ or 445℉. In a large pot, bring 2 liters/quarts of water to a boil, then add some salt. Boil the bagels for 2 minutes on each side before carefully removing them with a skimmer and transferring back to the baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
- Before baking, brush each bagel with an egg white whisked together with equal amount of cold water. Optionally roll your bagels in any choice of topping (I used pumpkin seeds and poppy seeds this time).1 egg white, seeds
- Bake for a total of 20 minutes. After 5 minutes, reduce the temperature to 200℃ or 390℉ for the remaining 15 minutes of baking. The tops should be starting to turn golden.
- It's best to enjoy bagels warm and up to 5 hours after baking. When storing, I slice them in half, then keep them in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer, so they're ready to pop in the toaster whenever I want an authentic bagel.