Water Bagels


Joan and the 80-year old Izzy Cohen show how bagels were made in the old days. Learns all the tricks to making great bagels at home.

Yield: 16 bagels


  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons malt powder
  • 6 1/2 to 7 cups high-gluten flour
  • Kosher salt sesame seeds, or poppy seeds


  1. Put the water, sugar, and the yeast in an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook; mix on low speed until the yeast dissolves. Add the salt, malt powder, and 2 cups of the flour, and mix well. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a smooth and relatively firm dough. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, covered with a towel, either in the bowl or poured out onto a lightly floured counter.
  2. Shape the dough into an oblong mass and divide in half with a sharp knife or dough cutter, then divide in half once more. Cut each of these pieces into 4 parts. On a dry wooden table or chopping board, flatten each piece and foll it up jelly-roll style until you have a short, stubby cigar about 3 inches long. Repeat with all the balls. Take each piece and roll it again under your palm until it is 5 inches long. Roll out with one palm until the strand or flechtel is about 7 inches long. Wrap around 3 or 4 fingers, overlapping the ends by about 1 ½ inches. Putting pressure on the overlap, roll the flechtel on the table until it is sealed and becomes the same thickness as the rest of the bagel. Repeat with the remaining rolls of dough.
  3. If you are baking the bagels right away place them on a board dusted very lighly with cornmeal and let rise, covered with a cloth, for about an hour. If you want to make them in a few days or freeze them, place on 2 jelly-roll pans dusted with cornmeal and wrap in 2 large plastic bags. Refrigerate overnight or freeze them. If frozen, before proceeding to the next step remove from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. Then take them out of the refrigerator and let them warm up at room temperature for about an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Boil 4 quarts of water in a 5-quart pan. Slide 4 bagels into the boiling water, and boil for 20 to 30 seconds, stirring at least once. Remove with a slotted spoon and put them on a cooling rack over a pan to let the water drain. Repeat with the rest. Sprinkle with the desired topping, such as kosher salt or sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
  5. Place the bagels, as soon as you can handle them, onto 2 baking sheets covered with parchment or sprinkled with cornmeal, and put them in the oven. Check them after 8 minutes an turn the pans back to front and switch from rack to rack. Continue baking for about 8 minutes more, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on racks.