Proper Bagels

Makes: 12 Ready in: 2 hours

This recipe is a classic “boiled bagel” the brief plunge into boiling water with a hint of molasses creates the characteristic chewiness of a real bagel, and in order to retain the rounded shape and not create a flat bottom, I bake the bagels on a folded wet tea towel.


  • 4 ½ cups flour - plus extra for kneading
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 ½ sachets instant yeast
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Toppings such as poppy seeds, sesame seeds or rock salt


    In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast and mix lightly.

    Stir in the water and mix to a dough then turn onto the bench and knead for 5-8 minutes until smooth, springy and elastic.

    Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover, set aside in a warm place and leave to rise until doubled in size – around 40 minutes.

    When dough has doubled, punch it down and knead lightly, then divide mixture into 12 pieces.

    Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add the molasses. Pre heat the oven to 200°C. Prepare a medium bowl filled with cold water and prepare 2 baking trays by placing a folded wet tea towel over one half of each tray.

    Shape each piece of dough into a ball, poke a finger through the middle and gently stretch and shape each bagel by placing fingers in the hole and gently working the bagel around and around in an anticlockwise direction to form rings.

    Place bagels 2 at a time into the water and cook them for around 10-20 seconds each side (they will swell quickly in the hot water). Remove from the hot water using a slotted spoon and plunge into the cold water; then place on the tea towel covered side of the trays. 6 to a tray.

    Bake the bagels on the wet tea towel sides of the trays for 7 minutes then quickly flip them over onto the uncovered side of the tray, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with your preferred topping.

    Bake for a further 13 minutes (making a total of 20 minutes cooking). The first 7 minutes should allow the bagels to hold their shape and not develop a flat bottom.

    Serve plain or toasted with cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers or just with cream cheese and good jam.


    If you don't have molasses use honey or even golden syrup in the water. 

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