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The Best New York Bagel Professional Baking Guide

Well known for their unique texture and taste, New York bagels are the ideal marriage of crispy crust and chew with deep, irresistible flavor.  Our chef will take you through the details of ingredients and the process and techniques that make authentic New Your bagels so amazing.

While the New York bagel symbolizes culinary tradition, it’s good to remember that there is no perfect way to make one. Bagel making is an artisan craft, part of which lies in discovering your unique personal techniques. Grab some Panhandle Milling high-gluten flour and invite a piece of New York into your bakeshop or home kitchen! The pathway to creating delicious bagels will require practice, but the results are worth the effort.

The Essential Ingredients

A classic plain New York bagel is created using just five essential ingredients to form the perfect dough, which is the foundation of a delicious bagel. These ingredients are:

  1. High-gluten flour is sold as “Bread flour” in grocery stores. You want flour with a minimum of 12% protein content.
  2. Water – Some bakers in New York swear that the water has to be New York water.
  3. Barley Malt Syrup – critical for a bagel’s flavor, color, fermentation, and texture.
  4. Yeast – Instant dry yeast, which is widely available, works best.
  5. Salt – Kosher salt works best, as it has a larger grain size than table salt.

Baking Tips

Mixing the Dough

The first step is to combine your ingredients to create the dough. Bagel dough is low-hydration, meaning the water content is typically between 50-55% compared to the flour weight. Low-hydration doughs require extensive mixing to ensure enough gluten develops. We caution against utilizing your stand mixer too much, as the toughness of bagel dough can lead to a burned-out motor. We finish the kneading by hand whenever possible.

Using a Cold Ferment

A twenty-four-hour cold fermentation is essential in achieving an authentic New York bagel. It allows the dough to rise slowly and develop unique, complex flavors. Cold fermentation uses lower temperatures to reduce yeast activity. The slow rise gives the proteins in the dough plenty of time to develop, leading to the distinct chewy texture and flavor everyone loves in bagels. Though it requires patience, cold fermentation is integral to the bagel-making process.

Why Boil?

Boiling accomplishes a few key factors. First, it gelatinizes (cooks the starch) the outside layer of the dough, which forms a barrier effective at locking moisture inside the bagel. Second, the process also ensures that the bagels uphold their shape during baking. Finally, it contributes to the bagel’s chewy crust. The length of the boil will depend on the desired result. The longer the boil, the thicker the crust will be.

Should You Add Any Ingredients to the Boiling Water?

Many New York bagel shops boil in plain water. To attain the desired result, you may experiment with water additives such as lye, baking soda, barley malt syrup, or honey. Each of these ingredients can alter the final product in the bagel-making process. Lye or baking soda helps alkalize the water, accelerating the Maillard browning reaction during baking and giving the bagels a beautiful, caramelized crust. Barley malt syrup or honey not only helps with the browning of the crust but also provides a subtle sweetness to add depth to the spectrum of the bagel’s flavor profile.

Specialty Toppings

Traditional toppings include sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes, garlic flakes, or coarse salt. A combination of these, known as “everything” bagel seasoning, is trendy. The possibilities are endless. The toppings can be as straightforward or as complex as desired. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase creativity. Feel free to experiment with different toppings and be creative.

Baking Method for Bagel Shops

In a professional setting, bagels are usually placed on a burlap-covered board or paddle before being inserted into a preheated rotating rack oven. These boards serve a few purposes. Firstly, they prevent the bagels from sticking to the oven racks or trays. Secondly, burlap helps to absorb some moisture during the baking process. This aids in achieving a crispy crust on the outside while keeping a soft and chewy interior.

Baking Method for Home Bakers

Burlap boards are unnecessary for baking bagels at home. We recommend a preheated, well-seasoned baking stone. A good-quality baking sheet lined with parchment paper can be just as effective. The biggest key to successful bagels is maintaining a high oven temperature and flipping the bagels halfway through baking. Whatever method is used for baking, the goal is to achieve a beautiful golden-brown crust on the outside and a perfectly chewy, dense interior.


Use these ratios to increase or decrease quantities according to how many bagels you desire to produce.

These measurements will yield 12 bagels:

  • Panhandle Milling High-gluten Flour – 906 grams
  • Water – 500 grams
  • Barley Malt Syrup – 26 grams
  • Yeast – 5 grams
  • Salt – 21 grams


Make the Dough.

Start by adding water, yeast, and barley malt in a large mixer bowl. Use room temperature water to warm, but no warmer than 80℉. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Then add flour. Mix at a low speed for 1-2 minutes, just until your ingredients begin to combine. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl and incorporate all of the flour into the dough. Once the dough has formed a shaggy mass, stop the mixer and sprinkle salt across the surface, but do not turn your mixer on yet. Rest the dough for five minutes, and turn your mixer back on low speed. After one minute, increase to a medium speed. The dough will start to form a ball around the hook of the mixer. If you hear your mixer hesitate with each rotation, stop and finish kneading dough by hand.

Bulk Ferment.

At this stage, the dough is still undivided and unshaped. Let the dough rise for 1.5 hours.

Note: The dough’s temperature impacts the bulk fermentation time. The desired dough temperature is 75℉. If it is too warm, your dough might over-ferment, leading to flat bagels. Too cold, the dough might under-ferment, resulting in dense, chewy bagels.

Divide the dough:

Weigh the individual dough into 121g (4.25 oz) portions.

Shape the Dough:

Shape the dough into rings, creating the classic bagel shape. Each ring should be even and smooth to ensure a uniform final product. Shaping the dough into bagels is an art in itself. Achieving the classic bagel shape requires a deft touch and an understanding of the dough’s elasticity and consistency.

Rope and Loop Method:

This is the traditional method for shaping bagels and is often used by professional bagel shops. The process involves rolling the dough into a long rope, about 6-10 inches long, depending on the bagel size you’re aiming to achieve. The ends of the rope are overlapped, pressed, and rolled a bit to secure the joint.

Cold Ferment:

After shaping the dough into bagel rings, the next step is cold fermentation. Place the formed bagels on a board or baking sheet coated with cornmeal or cornstarch to prevent sticking. Then, transfer them to a refrigerator for twenty-four hours.

Boil the Bagels:

Once the cold fermentation period concludes, take the bagels out of the fridge. This step sets bagels apart from other breads and contributes heavily to their distinct texture and taste.


Heat your oven to 475℉ and bring water to a boil in a large 6-8 qt pot. Boil the bagels for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, mixing them in the water continuously or flipping them halfway through.

Top the Bagels:

Immediately after boiling, add your seeds, spices, or other toppings to your bagels. Topping the bagels while wet will help them stick effectively to their surface.

Bake the Bagels: 

After being topped, the bagels are ready to go in the oven. The oven should always be preheated. A higher temperature is essential to achieve a crisp golden brown. Initially, bake the bagels for about 5-10 minutes, then turn over and bake for 10-12 minutes. Turning over the bagels halfway through the baking ensures even baking and color. This produces a uniformly baked bagel with a consistent texture.

Cool and Enjoy:

After the bagels are removed from the oven and allowed to cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes.