BBA Challenge #3 – Bagels


I present to you, the Recession Bagel. One of these stiff chewy rings will last you a day’s lunch and dinner – assuming of course, that you have an average Asian appetite like mine and are not training for an Ironman or Sumo event (in which case, I’d give you two).

Reinhart’s recipe, which required the dough to be shaped into 4 1/2-ounce rolls, were meant to deliver 12 large bagels or 24 mini-bagels. Thinking that ‘large’ couldn’t be all that large, I decided to go with the 12 bagel version, without realizing how menopausal and fickle my mechanical kitchen scale had become. By the time I was done with splitting the dough in preparation for the final shaping, I ended up with a total of 8 rolls, all of which looked suspiciously heavier or lighter than the requisite 4 1/2 ounces.

Despite this, and my trusty Kitchen Aid’s fearless battle with the stiffest dough in the bread kingdom for all of 12 minutes, these bagels were easy to make. As with most recipes in the book, there is a pre-ferment of yeast, high-gluten flour and water that is left to bubble away for 2 hours before the actual mixing begins. Once ready, I added the rest of the flour, more yeast, some salt and malt powder and combined them in the mixer.

Due to its low liquid to flour ratio (57% in this case, compared with 55% to 65% for most bread doughs), the resulting dough was extremely stiff and I had to keep a keen eye on the mixer to ensure that it didn’t overheat, stopping it periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Once the dough reached its desired consistency (“satiny and pliable but not…tacky”), the dough-splitting and shaping began before leaving the raw bagels in the refrigerator for overnight fermentation. What I like about this stage is that the dough can be left in the fridge for up to 2 days, leaving you the flexibility to decide when to complete them. The remaining steps are simple enough – boil, garnish, bake (in a 500F oven) – and we had nearly perfect circular bagels within the hour.

Bagel montage

Although M and I are not major bagel fans (with no serious bagel memories to reminisce over), this bagel was surprisingly good. I generally prefer my breads soft, and therefore kept the boiling time to a minimum. I was happy to see  that the resulting bagel had some holes in it and wasn’t as densely packed as some of the commercial bagels I’ve encountered. This is definitely one recipe to make again – once the Kitchen Aid has recovered, that is!

Here are some other BBA bagel-baking stories to check out:

Want to Bake Along With Us?

If so, check out the BBA Challenge Page for more details on how to participate in the group.


  1. Oh, I am jealous. These look beautiful. I once started making these (before i carefully read through all the directions) only to get to the part about refrigerating them overnight. Problem is I have a very mini fridge, so i had to throw out all the dough. There is no way I could fit a try of bagels in there. Which is a shame. I love bagels. Its really hard to get really good ones here in england. If you have to many, u can send me some if u like 😉

    • Thanks! I’ve discovered that a refrigerator is as indispensable to bread-making as a stand mixer, unless you’re in Alaska in the middle of winter! Would love to send you some from my next batch but will have to figure out packaging to ensure they survive the trans-Atlantic journey!

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