The Creative Liberation Lab Notes

An official publication of Limeadestand Works

DIY life: how to make your own bagels and save money

March 28, 2018 | A day in the life of Willow


Two years ago, I was living in the close-in part of Southeast Portland. There was a Safeway supermarket two blocks away, and it was open at 5 in the morning. I could just walk over and buy a fresh bagel. Every once in a while, I'd treat myself to some Black Heart Bagels, which costs twice as much but it is dense and very filling.

One of the fondest memories of the earlier years when I was still in Seattle was when Noah's Bagels opened shops. Noah's was still a small Bay Area chain bagel shops based in San Leandro, California and at the time, every Noah's store was certified kosher, and when each store opened a rabbi was brought in and a mezuzah was attached to the front door. Just like Starbucks broke the American love of cheap, nasty coffee, Noah's brought in what I thought then was the greatest bagels on earth. (In 1997, Noah's new owner Boston Market decided to discontinue kosher certification, and eventually it was amalgamated into its other subsidiary, Einstein Bros. Bagels.)

But oddly enough, I never knew how to make a bagel until last month.

Now that I live in a sort of exurbs and finding a half-decent bagel is not easy. So I challenged myself to make my own, which also lowered the per-unit cost.

It turns out that it wasn't too difficult to do it.

Ingredients you have to buy:

1. Make a dough: Mix 2 tsp (or 10 ml) of instant yeast, 1.5 cup (12 fl. oz or 360 ml) of water, and 4 cups (960 ml in volume) of flour for about five minutes in a bowl or electric mixer. Mix it until everything solidifies into a ball. 

2. Leave the dough for at least 2 hours. You may also refrigerate it overnight if you wish to bake the next day.

3. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F or 235 degrees C. Cover a cutting board with a bit of flour to prevent sticking. Then split the dough into six equal-sized pieces on the cutting board, and wait for five minutes.

4. Shape the balls into the shape of a bagel. You can use your thumb to poke a big hole in the middle.

5. In a large pot, boil water mixed with 2 tsp (10 ml) of baking soda. Boil a bagel individually for 2 minutes, then flip it, and boil further for another 90 seconds. Repeat this six times. You can use the same boiling water for the entire set. If you'd like to put some toppings on, do it after the boiling and before placing them in the oven.

6. When the oven's temperature is 450 F (235 C), bake the bagels for 15 minutes, and at the end of the 15 minutes, turn the whole thing 90 degrees and bake for another five minutes.