Pumpernickel Bagels

I have a secret love for pumpernickel bagels.   It’s really not so secret if you’re within my close circle of friends.  The thing with pumpernickel bagels is that most bagel shops or breakfast diners either do not carry enough and sell out quickly or simply do not offer pumpernickel!  There are always plenty of plain (boring), everything (love it but then again, it’s a plain bagel with sprinkles), poppy seed (don’t smile when eating), garlic (not my favorite morning flavor), chocolate chip (maybe for dessert), blueberry (um, no), onion (same as garlic, not for breakfast), whole grain (healthy, but did they use enriched wheat flour?)

When I lived in Florida there was a small diner I would frequent on the weekends.  One of those out-of-the-way, hole in the wall places with good food and friendly faces to greet you.  It would be pretty much hit or miss if when we arrived early enough that there would be any pumpernickel bagels left.  As soon as the decision was made to go  to that diner for breakfast, my thoughts turned to whether or not I’d get my bagel.  In that short drive around the corner, I would strategize over and over what I’d order if there were no pumpernickel bagels left.  Having to face the possibility of disappointment early in the morning was not a great way to start a day, especially weekends, those long-awaited two days, when all I wanted to plan for was fun and pleasure.

There were a few times when we called ahead just to check before leaving if there were any left and politely begged to have it set aside till we got there…just to avoid my possible let down.

Now, please, don’t read into my personality as one who Has to Have Her Way or pouting sets in.  No, I roll with the punches very well, thank you.  I’ll give, sacrifice and go without for any cause, person or reason.  I just like what I like and want what I want 🙂

Since my move to Atlanta, I found one great little place with pumpernickel bagels that I like.  But it’s not so “around the corner” convenient and the cost for breakfast there is about double.  So I decided to take care of my happiness directly and bake my own pumpernickel bagels.  I’ve played with making bagels before, like my whole wheat pumpkin bagels.  (I just realized they closely resemble each other!)

You know when first tackling something new, it seems lengthy and over involved.  I so dislike following recipes and double checking steps, which was the case when I first began making bagels.  But over time, with practice and patience, making fresh bagels on the weekend is about as routine as my Friday night homemade pizza!

Not only am I one happy, satisfied Spicegirl, but the pleasure I get out of seeing the reaction to finding freshly baked bagels in my kitchen is priceless.  You ?.. made…bagels?  Oh yes, I did!  And now, to toast? or not to toast?  to pull out the insides? or not?  cream cheese?  butter? plain?   I’m always ready to please 🙂

Pumpernickel Bagels

Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

1 tablespoon barley malt syrup, honey or rice syrup

1 teaspoon instant yeast

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 cup lukewarm water *

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon caraway seeds, optional

1 1/4 cup rye flour

2 1/4 cup white/wheat flour

For boiling and finishing:

2-3 quarts water (about 4 inches deep)

1 1/2 tablespoons barley malt syrup or honey

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt optional for sprinkling on top (I prefer to brush the tops first with beaten egg white to make them stick better)

Day One

Using a stand up mixer to knead the dough, stir the malt syrup, molasses and yeast into the lukewarm water.  Add in the flours, salt and caraway seeds.   If making by hand, add the flour into a large bowl containing the yeast/wet ingredients.   Mix on low-speed with the dough hook or stir by hand until the ingredients form a ball for about 3 minutes.  The dough should form a stiff, coarse ball.  If not pulling away from the sides, add in more white/wheat flour.  It is always easier to add in more flour than adding in more water.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Resume mixing with the dough hook on the lowest speed for another 3 minutes or by hand.  Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for a few more minutes to smooth out the dough and develop the gluten.  The dough should be stiff yet supple, with a satiny barely tacky feel.  If the dough seems tacky or sticky add a bit more flour.

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper misted with oil or a silicone mat.  Divide the dough into 6 or 8 pieces.  Form each piece into a ball on a dry, clean surface – do not use any more flour.  If the dough slides and won’t ball up, wipe with the surface with a damp paper towel.  You can either form the bagel by poking a hole in the middle of the ball and gently stretch into shape or as the pros do it by making a long rope and forming into a bagel shape pressing the tapered ends together.  I always do the poke method as I’m certainly no pro!

Place the bagels on the prepared sheet pan, mist with olive oil and cover the pan completely.  Refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

Baking Day

Remove the bagels from the refrigerator 60 to 90 minutes before you plan to bake them.  Normally 60 minutes is perfect.  Check whether the bagels are ready to be boiled by placing one in a small bowl of cold water.  If it sinks and doesn’t float back to the surface, shake it off, return to the sheet pan for another 15-20 minutes.  When the bagel floats to the top of the cold water, they are ready to be boiled and baked.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Fill a pot with the water, making sure there is about 4 inches deep of water.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer.  Stir in the malt syrup, baking soda and salt.  Gently lower each bagel into the simmering liquid, adding only as many as will fit comfortably.  They should all float to the surface within 15 seconds.  After 1 minutes, use a slotted spoon to turn each bagel over.  Simmer for another 60 seconds, then use the slotted spoon to transfer it back to the sheet pan with the silicone mat or fresh parchment paper that has been lightly oiled.

Reduce the oven temperature to 450  degrees.  Lightly brush each bagel with egg white and sprinkle on desired toppings.  Bake for 8 minutes, rotate the pan and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the bagels are golden brown.  Cool on rack for about 30 minutes before slicing or serving.  Makes about 8 smaller (as in my photo) or 6 large.

* I always like to use more water and then add in flour as necessary.



35 thoughts on “Pumpernickel Bagels

  1. Pizza on Friday nights, bagels on the weekends. You’re baking up a storm, Linda!
    I’ve made bagels once and loved them, though it was very much a check and double-check process. I’ve never enjoyed a pumpernickel bagel but do like the bread. I bet the bagels are delicious, too, especially when you make them. You do have a knack for baked goods, that’s for sure. I don’t know when I’ll get around to making bagels again but I’ll come back here when I do. Thanks, Linda!

    1. How about you make the cheese and I’ll bake the bagels?? Funny how we view the difficulty in different recipes!! Yes, I do get into routines, mostly because its easy and I can then do things on automatic pilot!

    1. Hmm….I’ve got to look up Montreal bagels, I’ve not heard of those. Believe me, I’ve had plenty of failed attempts at recipes, gotta just keep trying!!

  2. What a shame the bagels in Atlanta are double the cost of the bagels in Florida. You have to wonder why. But because of their high cost you’ve taken to making your own and that can only be a good thing. Congrats on tackling something I haven’t been brave enough to try xx

    1. It was basically a higher end diner that sold the pumpernickel bagels and rightly so, they were very good. But it’s become much easier for me to do myself, plus I believe mine are about 1/2 the calories as well!!

    1. lol….I never thought of the name being funny and now that you said that I’m associating it with Rumpelstiltskin which was one of my favorite fairy tales of the little man with the funny name!!

  3. Pumpernickel bagels are my favorite, I would choose them over any other. I know what you mean about new recipes and the need to be patient with bagel making … but oh the joy of when you get them just right, from your own hands, right there in your own kitchen! Ahhhh. Love that!

    1. Thank you Judy. I think the whole process of bread baking, i.e., YEAST, scares off many people, and it certainly did for me for many years. I use to always use a bread machine!!

  4. Oh, Linda, these look scrumptious! I love pumpernickel anything. I just may have to get this bagel making thing down. I have recently started making Challah bread and feel the same way…it gets easier and easier with repetition. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe. I hope you are doing well.

  5. I bet the ritual of making them yourself is even more enjoyable than the short trip to the bake shop when you lived nearby. Now the anticipation is even greater and all the senses involved as you prepare the ingredients and little by little the kitchen atmosphere turns your home into a heartwarming bakery. Good for you. Have you used them for sandwiches yet?

    1. Thank you Granny! My son has uses them for sandwiches quite often and I will as well, kinda like open face for me. If I ever start making several varieties at once, then I will feel like a bakery!!

  6. Those bagels look phenomenal Linda!! Liz and I made them once and we’re happy to how close they were to the really thing from NYC. Thankfully now that we’re so close to the city again, we can forgo the time to make bagels and pick them up in Queens. 🙂

  7. Ok, I’ll try and pretend I didn’t see the comment about not knowing about Montreal bagels and carry on… lol. Linda, these look outrageously fabulous! I too have a thing for pumpernickel (so earthy and pleasantly complex in flavour) and I’ve never made my own bagels before so I’m utterly impressed with your talent too!

    1. lol….I did quickly look up Montreal bagels after I that and seem to find that they look like something I might have had – but just didn’t know they were named as such! I’ll never say I know everything about food which also makes having this blog and following so many others a constant learning experience!

      1. Linda, I was only teasing because I am from Montreal ;0) and we like to think the bagels made in that city taste pretty good – there’s no reason anyone living outside Canada would or should know about them – cheers!

  8. These look so professional!! I seriously need to try my hand at making bagels…it’s been on my list for a while. I totally forgot you moved to Atlanta! I think I mentoned it when you first moved there, but you should try my brother’s restaurant- Grindhouse Burgers (www.grindhouseburgers.com)! It’s on Piedmont ave.

  9. I’m so impressed with your bagel making abilities and your choice of the pumpernickel bagels. They look absolutely perfect, and I know they must taste great. A little cream cheese, a little red onion, some smoked salmon…mmmmm.

  10. I think I can smell those beautiful pumpernickel bagel baking all the way in Hong Kong. These are my favorite too and I never see them in Asia. I will have to give your recipe a try.

  11. Hello lovely! Your bagels look incredible. Absolute deliciousness in bagel form! I’ve never attempted to make my own bagels but I often get disappointed by ones that I buy (it’s very hard to get a good bagel here in Perth, Australia). I think that’s a sign that I need to try your recipe! Love your website. Thanks for the inspiration and for all the effort that you put into your posts! Following you from now on.

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