The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bagel Help!!!!!!!!'s picture

Bagel Help!!!!!!!!

I have tried twice now to make proper water bagels.  Each was a disaster.  The Recipe I made called for the bagels to be boiled for 5 minutes.  When I removed them from the water they were a gelatinous covered goo gob.  The recipe also called for baking at 400° for 30 to 35 minutes.  If I do this they wind up being squat chewy pucks with gooey insides.  I have looked at many recipes online and the boil times and baking temperature/times vary greatly.  I'm confused as to what is needed to make a good bagel.  Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.


Kenneth Adelman 

edh's picture

Have you looked at Floyd's bagel post here?

It's based on the one in Reinhart's BBA, but even though I have the book, I still use my (now very stained) printout of Floyd's write up. I don't know how exactly, but he made it easier to understand. I'd never made bagels before, and now the family won't let me stop!

Give it a try,


Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Kenneth commented :

I'm confused as to what is needed to make a good bagel.


That's the key question and illuminates your search.  If I tell you I need a good piece of steel to make a knife, we can agree on technical specifications, look at catalogs and find a great steel for our knife making.


However, when we look at things like food... once we get past the simple basic elements of "not toxic and not ugly" things are still wide open.  Montreal, New York and California are all known for their unique bagel styles.  And if you're looking for one of them and make the other, you won't be happy.  If you want a New York bagel, you'll find Calfornia bagels light, bland, sweet and tasteless. 


I like New York bagels.  They should be dense, chewy, have a crisp shiny crust and a tight crumb.  If you drop one, you should move your foot to prevent bruising.


To make a New York style bagel, you have to have a dense dough, it has to be risen overnight, boiled in water with a bit of malt extract, and then baked until nicely browned.   The bagel should not be sweet (like H&H's) unless it is a sweet bagel like a cinnamon raisin bagel, it should have a rich wheaty taste, and when toasted it should be a meal in itself, even without cream cheese or anything else.... though all the additions really help.


I have a somewhat different, and sourdough based, recipe at  When we were running the bakery transplanted New Yorkers would stop me on the street with tears in their eyes to tell me they hadn't had bagels like that since they left New York and hadn't had many like that in New York in many a moon.




Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I don't know what happened, but when I tried the link i posted, there were some extra charachters on the end of the url that don't show in the web page.


It's a mystery, thanks for catching it and posting a correction!




susanfnp's picture

 Without knowing anything else about your recipe, I'd say your bagels are being both boiled and baked for too long. I boil mine for 20 seconds per side, and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.


Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I shoot for about a minute per side.


And about 450F for around 10 to 15 minutes.


5 minutes?  No wonder the bagels turn to glop!  I shoulda said something earlier....




Trishinomaha's picture

everytime. Go to the link edh referenced in the first post and give it a try. We make these at least once a month and they turn out perfect every time!


holds99's picture


Haven't tried Floyd's bagel recipe yet but I'm sure it's very good (his daily bread recipe has become a favorite of mine).  I have made Peter Reinhart's BBA recipe (2 minutes on each side in the simmering/gently boiling water) with excellent results.  Just make sure the dough is very stiff but passes the windowpane test without tearing.  This dough gets very stiff and gives my K.A. a real workout. 

If you're getting gooey globs it sounds like your dough may not be stiff enough and/or the shaped bagels are not cold when you put them into the hot water.  Also, Reinhart retards them, after a short proof, overnight in the fridge.  They go from fridge into the simmering/gently boiling water, then into a preheated 500 deg. oven.  Oven heat is reduced to 450 deg. midway through the baking cycle (5 min. and turn pan(s) and bake for another 5 min. and/or a few minutes longer to make them more brown).  I just made a batch yesterday.

Don't get discouraged, keep trying.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL's picture

Thanks all for your help. Seems there are an awful lot of ways to make a bagel. I think I'll try making a stiffer dough. Boil for 30 seconds per side and bake at a much higher heat. My sister in law takes the formed bagel dough, then broils then for 2 minutes each side. Then boils them for another 5 minutes before baking them. EGADS . How many ways are there to make them!!!


Seems like half thee recipes call for a starter and the other half dont. Is there any difference to the end product?

holds99's picture

Like I suggested previously, you need to find a high quality bagel recipe, whether it's Floyd's, Peter Reinhart's or whoever's and stick with that recipe until you fully understand the steps in the process and achieve some degree of success. A good start would be to get a copy of Peter Reinhart's book Bread Baker's Apprentice and get a grasp of the concept of the systematic process involved in baking (10 steps).  Then follow his bagal recipe to the letter.  1-2 minutes per side is ALL the boiling that's required.   Don't experiment by mixing recipes, it is counter productive to do that and there's no need to do that.  Just follow a proven recipe.  Once you fully understand the process, then you can experiment with sourdough or whatever. 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Paddyscake's picture

I grew up in New England and know a good bagel. I have made BBA bagels and a sourdough version (I think by Ed Woods)..I still haven't perfected it, but have come alot closer than what I can buy here.

As Howard says, don't mix recipes, boil 1-2 minutes a side, at the most!  

ejm's picture

Is it possible that your dough might have overrissen?

Like the others, I only boil our bagels for about 30 seconds in malted boiling water before baking at 400F for 30 minutes. They end up being what I imagine New York or Montreal bagels should be: really chewy and firm. (I don't know what the difference between Montreal and New York bagels is.)

But my sister made bagels using the "Real Honest Jewish Purist's Bagels" recipe (it was at and you can view it by using the Wayback Machine). She was very pleased with them and the boiling period recommended for them is 3 minutes.

Here is our bagel recipe that is based on "Jo Goldenberg’s bagels" in New Complete Book of Breads by Bernard Clayton & Peter Reinhart's "Classic Water Bagels". I've made them with high-gluten bread flour (that's what we prefer for bagels) and I've made them with all-purpose flour for them to become more like buns with holes in the middle. The all-purpose flour ones were still good but just didn't fall into our "bagel" definition.

The bialys recipe in Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking Across America : The Breads, the Bakers, the Best Recipes" looks to be very useful for reference as well (even though bialys are not boiled first before baking).


ejm's picture

On June 10, 2008 - 8:52pm, kbadelm wrote:

Seems like half thee recipes call for a starter and the other half dont. Is there any difference to the end product?

The recipe I use calls for a starter. But at least a couple of times now when I've made bagels, I have forgotten that there is a starter for the recipe and just made "same day" bagels. The times that I've forgotten, I mix the "starter" together and then pretty much immediately, just mix the "actual dough" without waiting for the starter to bubble. The bagels have turned out just as fantastically as ever.

I should add though that I let the dough rise at room temperature and in bagel season (cooler temperatures) our kitchen counter might be as low as 15C and never much higher than 18C. So they are still getting a pretty slow cool rise which probably helps to develop their flavour.


(I've also converted our recipe to make wild yeast bagels.)

kanin's picture

I made pumpernickel bagels from Reinhart's WGB recently.

I made a big adjustment to the boiling water... I think 2 teaspoons of baking soda for "4 inches of water " is not nearly alkaline enough. I used 1/3 cup for every 5 cups of water and boiled for a total of 1 minute.