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New York Bagel Recipe

We both grew up in the New York suburbs so, for us, there is nothing quite like a New York bagel. It has long been one of our comfort foods.

I will confess that neither of our families baked bagels at home. However, they were always in our kitchens.

For me the bagel was more than just a breakfast snack. It was my income.

As a high school student I was a bagel baker at a local shop. The recipe that you find here is my home version of the New York bagel we made with our commercial equipment. It’s not exact, but it comes pretty darn close.

plain bagels on plate close up
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

New York Bagel Toppings

In the bagel shop where I worked, we would top our bagels with a variety of add ons. This included:

  • sesame seeds
  • poppy seeds
  • onion
  • kosher salt
  • rye seeds
  • everything (which was a mix of many of the add ons mentioned above)

Side note: if you’re a Costco shopper, the everything bagel mix the store sells is worth the price of a Costco membership.

bagels in a bowl cropped square
Homemade New York style bagels with everything topping and salt. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

My favorite bagel flavors

I loved the salt bagels right out of the oven, with no butter or cream cheese — just plain. They reminded me of the hot pretzels that you could buy from street vendors in New York City.

After our bagels cooled, my go-to was sesame or everything with cream cheese — or a schmear as it was called. That’s Yiddish for spread, as in spreading cream cheese on your New York bagel.

If I wanted something really savory, scallion cream cheese was a treat. If I was looking for sweet, strawberry cream cheese on a plain bagel hit the spot.

After celebrating Passover and subsisting on matzo as her bread for a week, Leah tells me she always celebrated with a fresh bagel. I get it.

You know what would taste delicious on a New York bagel? Air fryer everything bagel salmon. Yes, you can use an air fryer to make a newfangled twist on lox.

You can make a vegan breakfast sandwich on one of our bagels, if you don’t have an English muffin available, as the original recipe mentions.

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bagels in a bowl cropped square

New York Style Bagels

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Jewish
Servings 8 Bagels

Ingredients
  

For the Dough

  • 4 cups bread flour.
  • cups warm water.
  • 1 packet yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons). If you are spooning out yeast from a bulk container you can add an extra ¼ teaspoon for extra rise.
  • 2 tsp kosher salt.
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar. You can substitute white sugar, honey, or barley malt syrup if you would like.

For the Boil

  • 1 large pot water.
  • 3 tbsp honey. Feel free to substitute barley malt syrup, maple syrup or molasses.

Instructions
 

Make the Dough

  • Activate the yeast in 1 cup of the water with the brown sugar (or whatever sweetener you choose). It should show activity (bubbling surface) in 5-10 minutes.
  • In a mixer with a dough hook or in a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.
  • Add the yeast mixture.
  • Add one cup of water. This should leave ½ cup of water remaining.
  • Mix throughly.
  • Add the final ½ cup of water, one tablespoon at a time until you get a slightly sticky, but firm workable dough. If you over water and the dough is too sticky, add one tablespoon of flour at a time until you get a workable dough.
  • Place in a non stick or slightly oiled bowl and allow to rise for at least an hour, until the dough has close to doubled. About 70℉ is ideal for a rise. In colder weather. I will turn my oven on for a minute so it just starts to get warm and then turn it off. I then use the oven as a proofing box.

Shape the Dough

  • Pound the dough down and make about eight even sized balls.
  • Pinch each ball in the middle to create a hole. Stretch the hole until it is a little bigger than a quarter. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • When all of the bagels are shaped, allow for a second rise, at least a half hour. If you want to prep your bagels a day in advance, loosely cover the cookie sheet and slide it in you refrigerator. The second rise can take place in there over night. I typically do this when I am having overnight guests so that I can enjoy my morning with them.

Boil the Dough, Add Toppings and Bake

  • Bring a large pot (I use a 6 qt dutch oven) to a rolling boil. Add the honey.
  • Preheat the oven to 400℉.
  • Prepare an ice bath near the cooktop by filling a large mixing bowl with ice water.
  • Place any toppings that you would like to add, such as sesame seeds, kosher salt, or everything topping, on a small plate near the ice bath.
  • Drop 2-3 bagels into the pot. Swirl the water assure that they don't stick to the pot. They should rise to the top in about 30 seconds. With tongs or a wooden spoon to flip the bagel so each side has a chance to be submerged.
  • Remove the bagels from the boiling water. Some people do this with tongs, but I think that this method risks deforming the bagel. So, I use a strainer spoon.
  • Drop the bagels in the ice bath for a few seconds. Remove with the straining spoon or tongs.
  • Place the bagel on the plate with toppings if you are adding them. Flip the bagel to coat both sides, or simply sprinkle more toppings on the top side. Despite the ice bath, the bagel may still be hot, so if you flip it, use a small spatula.
  • With a small spatula, move the topped bagel to a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remainder of the bagels.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Flip the bagels with a spatula. Be careful everything will be hot. Return the bagels to the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Serve warm.

Disclaimer

Please note that nutrient values, if included with the recipe, are estimates only. Variations can occur due to product availability/substitution and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of origin, preparation, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

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