A New York Bagel—from Scratch

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A New York Bagel—from Scratch

Miriam Alvarez-Rosenbloom, Layout Designer

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This collection of recipes will likely require you to purchase a few ingredients. I’ve added substitutions for the ingredients for the real stars, the bagels, and if you’d rather not buy cheesemaking supplies, simply use store-bought cream cheese. The bagels take very little effort as far as breads go and you can have the satisfaction of a New York bagel without the Metrobus fare.


Part One: The Bagel

Dough Ingredients:

3 ½ cups (530g) bread flour

2 ½ tsp (7g) instant yeast

1 tbsp (11g) salt

1 ¼ cups (300g) cold water

1 tbsp barley malt syrup (or sugar)

Optional: 10g/ 4 tsp vital wheat gluten*


Water Ingredients:

2 tbsp barley malt syrup (or molasses/sugar)

Optional: 1 tbsp baking soda



Pulse flour, yeast, gluten, and salt in food processor for a few seconds. Stir barley malt syrup into water, then pour the mixture in while running machine. Process until dough forms a ball and clears the sides of the machine, about 30 seconds. Continue processing until dough is satiny and elastic, about 30 to 60 more seconds.

Knead dough lightly on a clean counter to shape it into a round, then form it into a rough rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp, clean kitchen towel and rest for 20 minutes.While you wait, sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal or spray with cooking spray to keep bagels from sticking.

Cut 2-inch strips of dough out of the mass and form into long rope. Take the end of the rope in right hand, then flick wrist around, wrapping dough around palm. Use right thumb and index finger to cut the loop off of the roll and roll the bagel, palm side down, to seal the ends together. This may feel weird at first, but you will get the hang of it. Instead of rolling, you could also form balls and poke holes through the middle, though this leads to softer, flatter bagels.

Place dough rings on baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and rest at room temperature 20-40 minutes, until a test bagel dropped in a bowl of water floats. When they are ready, spray bagels lightly with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 16-36 hours. This process is important to develop a bit of flavors in your bagels, but can be shortened if need be.

When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 400ºF. Bring a large, wide pot of water to a boil and add in baking soda and barley malt syrup. The mixture will foam up as it begins to boil, so skim it off with a slotted spoon or skimmer. When water is boiling, drop in bagels, 3-4 in the pot at a time. Boil for 1 minute, then flip and boil another minute on the other side.  This makes the bagels chewy with a shiny, golden brown crust once baked.

While bagels are still wet, sprinkle with toppings, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, or until light golden brown, then flip each bagel and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, until bagels are golden brown all over.


Let cool slightly before digging in. These are best served fresh, and if you can’t eat them all within a day of baking, they keep well in the freezer and can be reheated in the oven or toaster.


Part Two: Seasoning



2 tbsp poppy seeds

2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp dried minced garlic

2 tbsp flaked onion

1 tsp pretzel or coarse salt



For everything bagels, mix all ingredients together in a bowl. You can also mix together any combination of seeds, spices, and salt.



Part Three: Cream Cheese



3 cups milk

1 cup cream

⅛ tsp mesophilic culture* or ¼ cup cultured buttermilk

1 tbsp water with 2 drops rennet*

Salt, to taste



Heat milk and cream in a small saucepan over low heat until a kitchen thermometer measures 75°F (it should feel neither warm nor cool). Take off heat and sprinkle culture on top. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir to combine and add in water-rennet mixture, stirring gently.


Pour mixture into a glass container and loosely cover (I use a mason jar with the lid barely screwed on). Let sit out overnight.


On the next day (or 8-12 hours later), line a strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour in mixture, then gather cheesecloth ends to make a “sling” for the cheese.


Then, either hang cheesecloth over a pitcher (loop cheesecloth around a wooden spoon, then place over top) or hang from a cabinet handle set over a bowl. Let strain for 12 hours, until cheese is thick. It will firm up and become tangier after a few hours in the fridge.


Scoop cream cheese into a bowl or container and mix in salt and any desired add-ins. This makes enough to fill two 8-oz takeout containers or reused cream cheese containers. Store refrigerated in airtight container for up to two weeks.


*I used vegetable rennet and mesophilic culture from Amazon (brands are New England Cheesemaking Supply Company and Cultures for Health, respectively). Barley malt syrup can be purchased online or at Whole Foods. The optional vital wheat gluten makes the bagels chewier (and better) and can be found at Whole Foods or Elmendorf Baking Supplies in East Cambridge.