Adventures in Ratio Baking: Boiling the Bread Dough to Make Bagels

Adventures in Ratio Baking: Boiling the Bread Dough to Make Bagels - boiling bread dough before baking gives you bagels

Boiling bread dough and then baking it gives you bagels? Why didn’t someone tell me it was as simple as that years ago?!

I adore freshly baked bagels. I adore freshly baked bread, but bagels have a special place in my heart. I have so many fun memories of freshly baked bagels. I also have a bizarre memory of making bagels for the first time. Not coincidentally, they all occurred in the same 9 month span.

During my first year of graduate school in psychology, I did a practicum rotation through a clinic at a children’s hospital. It was only open once a week and, once a month, we had to be there early for team meetings. There were always, always, always freshly baked store-bought bagels that lasted the entire day. Or almost the entire day. I really loved working with that team, but those once a month meetings with the bagels were my absolutely favorite days. What can I say? I love bread. Anyways, on my last day there, I decided that, since one of them didn’t care much for sweets, I would make bagels. I had watched my mom make bagels, but had never made them myself. I didn’t think it could be that hard, though. After all, I do know how to follow a recipe. Unfortunately, that recipe gave me a croissant that looked like a bagel. Never used that one again!

I also didn’t make another bagel for almost 8 years. Which would be just recently. Well, with the pandemic shutting things down and me being at high risk, I’ve been reluctant to bring food back home, so I’ve been really missing bagels. One night I dreamed I made beignets, which somehow made me decide it was time to make bagels.

So, I did some reading on what bagels are, exactly. It sounded like they’re bread that just happens to be shaped with a hole, boiled, and then baked. So easy! Well, I wasn’t quite sure, so I was kind of keeping my fingers crossed the whole time. After all, my mom hardly ever made bagels and, when she did, she usually grumbled about it taking all day.

I started with my basic bread dough, following the ratio of 5:3 flour to water. I also added about a teaspoon of yeast, about 1/4 cup sugar because sugar may or may not be added, and some salt. And then, for good measure (read: no good reason), I tossed in an egg (without the shell, of course) because eggs may or may not be added. Everything got mixed together and then I let my machine knead it for a while.

Then I decided to shape the dough. And let it rise on parchment paper that’s probably a lot older than I think it is. I’m not too sure what happened, but the dough stuck really badly to the parchment paper and I ended up having to reshape it anyways. But the recipe I have that gave me the croissants disguised as bagels said to shape after rising. Well, I’ll try that next time.

The dough was also stickier than expected, so I let the rings hang out on a flour covered plate before boiling. The easy part turned out to be the boiling part. Into a pot of boiling water, I dropped my bagels and let them float around on both sides for about a minute or two. Then I placed them on my baking sheet.

I have no idea what the baking temperature should be, but, when baking bread, I get a hard crust above 450 and a softer crust at 375, so I opted for 400. The bagels baked for about 20-25 minutes until the top was a lovely brown.

Adventures in Ratio Baking: Bagels - take bread dough, boil it, then bake it

And, hey, boiling bread dough and then baking it gives you bagels! Of course, my husband is from New York, so he did not appreciate the sugar, but he still said it was good. And now he’s looking for cream cheese.

As for me, I’ll take it plain. Let’s see how long the 7 bagels last for…

3 thoughts on “Adventures in Ratio Baking: Boiling the Bread Dough to Make Bagels

  1. Boiling the dough also works for making soft pretzels. You roll the dough into a snake and then form it into the pretzel shape, pinching the spots that touch to make it hold. Boil them and then sprinkle some sea salt on them before baking. My sister makes these all the time and they’re amazing! (Home made cheese sauce is great too!)


    1. That’s what I was thinking, but wasn’t sure, so I’m so glad you told me! I miss getting soft pretzels so much, so I love knowing it’s really as easy as that. Thank you!


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