If you're like me, you may have spent a large portion of your life wondering how people make bagels and how they get them to taste so good. On one particularly sluggish Sunday afternoon I decided to demystify the process and do some research. I combined a few methods and practiced the process to synthesize a go-to homemade bagel guide. Make sure you have a few hours of free time on your hands and follow the directions below to make a batch of chewy, aromatic homemade bagels. 

Elizabeth Sterling

Getting Started 

First I took inventory of my pantry and found I actually had everything I needed to make bagels. For toppings I decided to wing it with whatever I dug up in the spice cabinet.

Here's what you need: 

Bread flour (3.5 cups)

Salt (1.5 tsp.)

Dry activated yeast (2 tsp.)

Sugar (1.5 Tbsp.)

Warm water (1.25 cup)

Vegetable oil

Getting that Dough 

This may seem obvious, but the first step to making bagels is forming the dough.

1. Start by adding the yeast, sugar and .25 cups of warm water (not too hot) to a small bowl. Allow the ingredients to sit unmixed for 5 minutes before stirring.

2. In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients and form a well in the middle. Pour the yeast mixture along with the rest of the water and stir until a sticky dough forms.

3. Now roll up your sleeves and start to knead the dough on a floured board or counter. You'll need to put a solid 10 minutes of kneading work into this dough (yes this counts as your workout for the day). 

4. After applying some elbow grease to the dough and some vegetable grease to the inside of your bowl, return the dough to the bowl and cover it with a damp dish towel.

5. Leave the bowl in a warm place, ie. oven set at 100 degrees, and let the dough rise for an hour. Use this time to start the assignment you've been putting off or maybe just to watch two episodes of Broad City. 

Getting Hole-y

Congrats! You patiently waited a HOLE hour. So now let out all that frustration and give the dough a good punch.

6. Yep that's right drive your fist into that soft sack of gluten. Alright, chill out. Just once is good. Let your poor dough recover for 10 minutes (one third of another episode, c'mon you know that title sequence is catchy).

7. Now it is time to roll up. Divide that sweet hunk of dough into 8 equal pieces. Use a clean counter top to gently roll these pieces into some reasonable balls. Now is a good time to draw on your experiences with play-dough in kindergarten.

8. Stick your favorite finger into some flour then into the center of a dough ball, making a small hole. Stretch the dough ball into a ring, the center being less than half the diameter of the bagel. Place the ring on an oiled cookie sheet and repeat seven more times.

9. Tuck your baby bagels in with the damp kitchen towel and press play on Hulu for another 10 minutes.

Elizabeth Sterling

Getting Baked

10. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Farenheit or 400 if you are working with a gas oven.

11. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt (think making 2 boxes of pasta). Lower the heat to medium and stick 2-4 bagels in there. You can lower them in with a slotted spoon. My ideal boiling time is 2 minutes, but you can certainly experiment depending on desired chewiness level.

12. After time is up, gently flip the bagels over to the other side and repeat for the same amount of time.

13. Once the bagels are done boiling, allow them to dry on a dish towel before placing them back on their baking sheet. Repeat as needed. 

Elizabeth Sterling

Getting Topped

Alright, now here is where you can get creative: the toppings. There are literally no rules. You can let them be naked. You can get them real fancy. I won't tell you how to live your life, but here is what I did. As a savory bagel purist, I did an even split of everything and half cheddar jalepeno.

First I mixed an egg with a tbsp. of water and brushed it on to the tops of the bagels (if you're plant-based you can use a plant milk). This helps the toppings stick to the bagels. I mixed an improv everything mix using garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, rosemary, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and black pepper and sprinkled this over the tops of 4 bagels. Then I added a pinch of shredded cheddar and 4 pickled jalepenos to the tops of the other 4 bagels. Mwuah. Chef's kiss. 

Elizabeth Sterling

After the toppings, you just gotta get those girls a nice golden glow. Pop em in the oven for about 20 minutes, finish your episode, anxiously check your bagels, do a Canvas discussion post reply, etc.

Now you're ready to chow down. Don't forget to share with friends and brag at parties. I now crown thee, Bagel KWEEN. 

Elizabeth Sterling