Everyone’s tried baking bagels at least once haven’t they? Some turn out like biscuits and some are a bit tasteless. We’ve worked long and hard at how to create this authentic bagel recipe with the flavour and texture you’d expect, using barley malt syrup and boiling to encourage the chewy crust. Look no further for a homemade, easy to follow, recipe for bagels with an authentic flavour. It’s quick to prepare but It’s the long proving time that makes this overnight bagel recipe special.

What are bagels made of?

Baked authentic bagels cooling on a wire rack
Baked bagels cooling on a wire rack

Bagels are made from a handful of easy to source ingredients being flour, salt, yeast, water and barley malt syrup. It’s what you do with the ingredients that makes a bagel taste and feel the way it does. This includes allowing the dough time to rise, letting the dough ferment and briefly boiling before baking your bagels. This is a fat-free recipe, using no oil.

Where does the bagel come from?

Originating as a bread product in the Jewish communities of Poland, bagels were a “… boiled-then-baked ring-shaped bread can be found in a 13th-century Arabic cookbook…”, according to this Bagel article on Wikipedia. Today we often hear of “New York bagels” and to many of us, New York is where the bagel comes from.

“The New York bagel contains malt, is cold-fermented for several days to develop the flavors and enhance the crust, and is boiled in salted water before baking in a standard oven.” – The Untold Truth of New York Bagels

So to answer the question, where does the bagel come from, in modern times it’s New York, but it goes way back in history.

What’s the secret to a bagel’s flavour?

People often ask, can you proof bagel dough overnight? The “secret” to baking authentic tasting bagels is to let them prove slowly overnight. So, in answer to the question: “How long can you leave bagel dough in the fridge?” – 18 hours in a fridge is about right!

“Traditional bagels develop much of their flavor and distinct crust characteristics from a long, cold fermentation step called retardation…”, Science Direct says. This brings complexity to the flavour, making memorable bagels that people will always comment on. If you’re the impatient type and can’t stand delayed gratification, skip that step and get baking your bagels the same day. Don’t complain though if they aren’t anywhere near as tasty as the overnight bagels in this recipe!

Have Your Tried Malt Syrup For Bagels?

I kept reading and found that for the “authentic” tasting bagel I didn’t need sugar and oil, I just needed a bit more water and barley malt syrup (it might be called malt extract where you are) Two articles I read mentioned this: https://slate.com/culture/2014/04/authentic-bagel-recipe-you-need-barley-malt-syrup-and-boiling-water.html and How to make the perfect bagels by Felicity Cloake

“Malt contributes a mild sweetness as well as important ingredients such as mineral salts, soluble proteins, dough conditioning enzymes, flavor, color, and nutritive materials. These give us the incredible rich brown crust of the typical New York bagel, while adding flavor and aroma to the finished bagels.”

Why Malt Syrup in Bagels?

Two important details when baking bagels, you make rings, don’t punch a hole in the dough, it’s not cheating but it does something to the shape and consistency of the bagel when you roll it out between your hands. The second thing is boil your bagels before baking.

Overnight bagels recipe (makes enough dough for 6)

2 cups (400 g) of strong white bread flour
1/2 tablespoon of “easy bake” yeast
1/2 tablespoon and a bit of salt
1.5 tablespoons of barley malt extract
210g of lukewarm water (around 36 degrees celsius / 97 fahrenheit)

Preparation time: 100 minutes, waiting time approx 18 hours.
Baking time: 16 minutes

Day One: Start preparing at 10am. Bagels should be covered and in the refrigerator by about 11.30am
Day Two: Take the proved bagels out of the fridge around 7.15am and let them come to room temperature for an hour. They should have filled out, looking puffy but firmish to the touch. Boiling and baking takes about 25 minutes.

We use weight measurements to keep everything accurate as cup measurements can vary. This recipe should produce approx. 660g of dough which will make 6 x 110g bagels. We’re aiming for an optimum 57% hydration as bagel dough is quite dry by nature.

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Method for Baking Bagels

  • Add 1 x tablespoon of barley malt extract to the lukewarm water and mix in
  • Put the yeast in a bowl, pour in the water mixture, stir, cover with a tea towel and leave to stand for 10 minutes – you should get an even froth across the top of the water.
  • Add the remaining barley malt extract and stir.
  • Add the flour and salt to the mixing bowl then add the yeast mixture. Combine the flour, salt and yeast mixture, kneading by hand for 10 minutes. ( Stand mixers can’t easily handle the heavy dry dough mixture )
  • Leave the dough ball to rise to double size in a covered bowl for an hour
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal parts using scales to weigh the dough balls
  • Shape bagels by rolling out into sausage shape and wrapping around hand and rolling to join
  • Place the bagel rings on a floured tray, in a sealed plastic bag for 18 or more hours in refrigerator (12 hours is OK)
Flour, barley malt syrup and yeast mixture waiting to be combined in this recipe for bagels
Flour, barley malt syrup and yeast mixture waiting to be combined
Shaped bagels proving before being boiled for an authentic bagel flavour
Shaping bagels proving before being boiled

The Next Day – Bagels for breakfast

To complete this bagel recipe, breakfast ingredients ready, to go we need to be up early. I remove the bagels from the refrigerator around 6am.

  • Remove the tray from the fridge, place bagels on a room temperature surface for an hour and cover
  • Boil a wide pan of water and add half a teaspoon of baking powder (this promotes caramelisation and can give the bagel a pretzel-like flavour) – you could add sugar, honey or barley malt syrup to improve the glaze but we like baking powder
  • Boil your bagels for 15 seconds each side – use a slotted spoon to retrieve and drain the bagels
  • Stand boiled bagels on a rack for 5 minutes then transfer to a baking tray
  • Bake at 200c for 16 minutes turning tray 180 degrees after 8 minutes
  • Turn out onto a rack and let cool for 20 minutes
  • The bottoms of the bagels should be a golden brown colour when they’re fully baked. The surface of the bagel should be covered in small blisters.
Boiling bagels in a pan in this overnight bagel recipe
Quickly boiling bagels
Baked authentic bagels cooling on a wire rack
Baked bagels cooling on a wire rack

How to make the perfect bagels – The Guardian, 7th August 2014 https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/aug/07/how-to-make-perfect-bagels

You’re Doing It Wrong: Bagels – L.V Anderson on Slate, 24th April 2014
https://slate.com/culture/2014/04/authentic-bagel-recipe-you-need-barley-malt-syrup-and-boiling-water.html

How to Make Bagels at Home by Adam Kuban – Serious Eats, March 24, 2011
“Rope-and-loop: You form a snake shape, loop it around your hand, and roll it on the counter to seal it together”
https://www.seriouseats.com/2011/03/how-to-shape-and-make-bagels-at-home-recipe.html

6 Common Bagel-Making Problems and How to Fix Them – Serious Eats, October 30, 2019

  • Mix dough for up to 45 minutes to get air in and blisters on surface
  • Prove for up to 20 hours in fridge

https://www.seriouseats.com/2017/03/homemade-bagel-troubleshooting.html

10 Tips for Making Schmear-Worthy Homemade Bagels – October 5, 2016 by Caitlin Raux

  • Use cold water
  • Chilled dry active yeast
  • Don’t whisk yeast, let it sit on surface of water

https://www.ice.edu/blog/10-tips-making-schmear-worthy-homemade-bagels

Why Malt Syrup in Bagels? New Yorker Bagels, 8th November 2013
https://www.newyorkerbagels.com/blogs/bagels/why-malt-syrup-in-bagels

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This overnight bagel recipe is quite simple really but it needs patience, and eating anything fresh from the oven is so satisfying. If you’ve tried this recipe for bagels why not leave a comment and let us know how it went?

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