The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bagel dough advice

Blue Moose Baker's picture
Blue Moose Baker

Bagel dough advice


I had my first go at making bagels today.  I used my KitchenAid stand mixer for the kneading.  When my dough was mixing, however, it seemed to be really very wet and sticky.  I decided to add more flour so the dough would clear the sides of the mixer bowl and only cling to the very base of the bowl as is customary of most doughs.  I used Gold Medal bread flour for the recipe and measured using the spoon and sweep method yielding just under 4.5 ounces weight per cup of flour.  Any thoughts as to why the recipe could produce a dough so wet?  It was a very wet day.  Should I have used a higher stregnth flour do you think, hence more absorbtion?  Or is this recipe just off the mark?  The recipe proportions are as follows.

1 Tbsp yeast

1 Tbsp sugar

1 3/4 cups warm water

4 cups bread flour


Some advice would be great!  Thanks!


verminiusrex's picture

My basic bagel recipe (made thousands of them for Farmer's Market) would look something like this converted to look more like your recipe.

3 1/4 cup (16 oz) bread flour (I use high gluten flour)

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons barley malt powder/brown sugar/whatever

1 teaspoon instant yeast

2 Tablespoons olive oil

8 oz water

If your mixer is having difficulty with the stiff dough, up the water by an ounce.  You don't want to knead a bunch of stiff dough in a KA mixer, it will destroy them.  I've done it twice.

Blue Moose Baker's picture
Blue Moose Baker

Thank you for the recipe.  Do you boil the bagels in any kind of malt solution or let them relax before/after shaping?  Also, when you say instant yeast do you mean rapid rise?  Fleischmann's claims that instant and rapid-rise yeasts are the same, but I am not so sure that's the case.  


Thanks for your help!

dghdctr's picture

"High Gluten" flour is what bagel professionals use.  It is much stronger than "bread flour", and would have absorbed the water that's making your dough too sticky.  Hard to find at retail stores, but can be ordered from King Arthur and others online.

If you don't use an accurate scale to actually weigh ingredients, you're rolling the dice every time you bake.  That's fine if you like gambling, but it's not effective in trying to reproduce about the same dough every time.

There are many relevant threads here at TFL that can be located by searching for "bagels" in the search box on the upper left.

"Rapid-Rise" is the brand name that Fleischman's uses for their instant yeast.

Jeffrey Hamelman has an excellent formula and procedure for bagels in his book.

--Dan DiMuzio

mysteryshrimp's picture

You can also get stand-alone gluten and adjust up from bread flour. When making bagels, I add about 2-3% gluten to the recipe, and that roughly approximates high-gluten flour.


I have made very good bagels with just bread flour though. The dough needs to be very stiff, and I always knead by hand. Of course, I always knead by hand except for rustic doughs.

verminiusrex's picture

I don't add anything to my boil water, mostly because the barley malt syrup cost a chunk of money and I was baking 16 dozen bagels every friday.  It seemed like a waste of money to me since if I wanted to stick anything to the top I'd just use an egg wash.  

From what I understand all commercial yeast is the same strain, it's a matter of how many active yeast beasties per teaspoon or whatever.  Instant yeast has enough active cultures that it doesn't have to be jump started.  I get mine in a brick at Sam's Club (same place I get my 50 lb bags of high gluten flour).

js138011's picture


I meant to reply to your comment, and instead I just replied to the original thread. Just wondering how you manage to make 16 dozen bagels in one day?! I'd love to know your secret. I'm also selling bagels (and breads) at a local farmer's market, but I'm lucky to have 30 bagels, let alone 16 dozen... Any helpful hints you could pass on would be soooo appreciated!


verminiusrex's picture

I did just bagels and spent literally all day doing them. It was easier when I upgraded my oven to 3 rack convection on the bottom and single rack top oven, so I could bake 2 dozen at a time, but it still takes over 12 hours of constant work to get all the bagels done. When one batch was in the oven, I'd be dividing the next batch of dough for shaping, and the mixer would be making more dough. You fall into a rhythm pretty quickly. I also made my recipe so I could make a good bagel in only about 3 hours, with batches going back to back. 

I stopped last October because the constant strain on my tendons was a bit much. Several dozen a week is no problem, but 12-18 dozen in a single day is way too much strain.

mrfrost's picture

Even though you know the approximate mass of a cup of flour as you measured, you still need to know(or eventually figure out) how  the recipe originator measured their flour.

It is quite possible that the recipes creator scooped the flour in a method that resulted in a weight of well over 5.5 oz per cup. That could result in a difference over a "cup" of flour between the two measuring methods for the given recipe.

michaelcernak's picture


Here is one of the best and easiest bagel recipes I have found and have used it many, many times. It does use the volumetric method as you are. 

4 cups bread flour

1 Tbls sugar

1 1/2 tsps salt

1 Tbls vegetable oil

2 tsps instant yeast

1-1/4- 1-1/2 cups of warm water.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. You don't have to worry about soaking the yeast when you use instant yeast (most yeast sold these days is instant yeast). The dough should feel stiff, but add the extra water if it's really stiff, or you can't get all the dry flour incorporated.

Plop the dough down onto the counter, and knead for about ten minutes, or until the dough is uniform and smooth.

Cut the dough into 8 equal sized balls, and let rest for 10-20 minutes.

Pre heat your oven to 425.

Now, take each of the dough balls and using two hands, roll it into a little snake on the counter. When the snake is longer than the width of your two hands, wrap it around your dominant roiling hand. The dough rope should be wrapped so the overlapping ends are together at your palm, near the start of your fingers. Now take the two overlapping ends, and use your palm to squish/roll these two ends together. Once the dough is fused, you should have a perfectly circular bagel-to-be! This is the only part of the process that can take a little practice before your bagels will look really professional. Don't get discouraged if they don't look perfect, it just takes practice!

Let your bagels rest on the counter for about 20 minutes, and meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and grease a large baking tray lightly. You can just rub a splash of vegetable oil and rub it around.

After the 20 minute wait, your bagels will start to look puffy, and it's time to get them boiling! Add them as many at a time as you can to your boiling water without crowding them. Boil for about a minute, turn them over, and boil for another minute. Take them out a let dry for a minute and then place them on your oiled baking tray. Repeat until all the bagels are boiled.

Add the tray to the oven, and after 10 minutes, flip the bagels over, bake for another ten minutes; and they're done!

Let them cool for at least 20 minutes, get the cream cheese ready, and feast on what's got to be one of the best weekend brunch treats possible!

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Confession: I used to make bagels at least once a week when I first started baking - it was one of the first recipes I used - until one catastrophic night when the dough was so wet it fell apart in the boil!  Ever since I haven't trusted myself, which I know is silly.

Looking back, I think I was simply a bit off on my amounts, which might be the same for you.  I was using approximate cup measurements at the time, but since then I have gotten a kitchen scale to gauge precise grams or ounces, or milliliters, and I find that so much more marvelously exact.  

Maybe it's time I tried again... and good luck to you too!


p.s.  I put baking soda and sugar in my water.  And jam on my bagels!

JoPi's picture

I have never had bagels that fell apart. I have had them not rise. I have figured out that if your dough is too sticky, they will flop  after you boil them and not rise in the oven.  A stiff dough is better for bagels.


js138011's picture


To the person making 16 dozen bagels every Friday... How on earth do you do that? I'm also selling bagels at a local farmer's market, and I'm lucky if I have 30 bagels! I have other things, too, but the bagels are so labor intensive that even if I did only bagels, I'd never have that many.

Any hints for a newbie?