lazy quarantine bagels

prologue: on laziness

lately i have been doing some lazy baking whilst in quarantine, where lazy is defined as:

  • no need for fancy equipment like stand mixers with dough hooks
  • no need for hard-to-find ingredients like lye
  • NO STARTERS (like the kind you need for making sourdough)
  • less than one hour of work total
  • can be made by someone with minimal baking experience
  • can skip/improvise/fuckup 1-2 steps and still have a decent result

for a prime example of lazy baking, check out my twitter recipe thread about japanese-style croissants (AKA salted butter rolls), which have been made by dozens of people (including children) to near-universal acclaim.

non-lazy bagels

when lazy croissants became overly undemanding of my copious leisure time (jk), i decided to move on to bagels with some encouragement from baking master and sourdough-starter-haver garrett. these bagels were incredible, but required having a sourdough starter and clearing an empty fridge shelf to put the bagels in overnight, hence disqualifying them from my laziness requirement.

having said that, if you have access to a sourdough starter, you should probably just stop reading here and go make this sourdough bagel recipe instead.

lazy bagels

my goal was to make a lazy bagel that was 90% as good as the average nyc bagel. it had to be soft and pillowy, yet able to withstand a cream-cheese loaded butter knife without getting crushed, with a chewy exterior and a nice yeasty flavor that would make keto people hate me.

i think i achieved this - or at least what is probably the best bagel i’ve had outside of the east coast - by making a few modifications to a tried-and-true recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. so far i’ve made two batches of my favorite bagel flavor, parmesan-onion-garlic, one with parmesan inside the dough and one without. both have turned out sufficiently spectacular that i am taking the time to write this down for posterity even though my blog auto-deploy scripts are broken.


  • enough baking sheets to fit 8 large bagels without crowding them
  • parchment paper or silicone baking mats
  • a pot that holds at least 2qts
  • [optional] pastry brush
  • thermometer


  • 500g (4c) all-purpose or bread flour
  • 8g (2.75tsp) yeast
  • butter or oil spray for coating
  • 12g (2tsp) salt
  • 1/4c + 1tbsp maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey
  • at least 1/4c of baking powder
  • [optional] egg
  • [optional] 1/2c of shredded parmesan for mixing into the dough
  • whatever toppings you want on your bagels. (i used shredded parmesan, a small diced onion, coarse salt, and 2 cloves of minced garlic)

day 1 instructions

do these the night before you want to eat bagels

making alkalized baking soda

the purpose of this step is to increase the potency of commercial baking soda so that you can use it in place of lye to boil bagels.

  1. preheat an oven to 275F
  2. line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
  3. pour a bunch of baking soda (at least 1/4c, do more if you want to save some for next time) onto the foil in a layer
  4. bake the baking soda for an hour; then store it in a sealed jar or ziplock bag

be careful when handling the baking soda after baking as it is strong enough to cause skin irritation.

making the dough

  1. pour 1.5 cups of water into a small bowl & microwave for ~40s until it reaches 100-110F (38-43C)
  2. sprinkle 8g yeast into the water and whisk it around until it dissolves. add 1 tbsp maple syrup (or brown sugar, or honey) into the yeast water and stir to combine.
  3. measure 500g flour and 12g salt into a very large bowl. if you want a cheesy dough, add 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan. mix it all up.
  4. pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture and mix it up evenly with your hands.
  5. dust some flour onto a work surface (like a counter or chopping board), then pour your dough onto the surface
  6. knead the dough for about 10min, sprinkling more flour onto the dough if it is sticking to your hands or the surface. i like to fold the dough onto itself, press down hard to flatten it, fold, press, repeat. at the end of this process, you should have a stiff ball of dough that barely sticks: doughball
  7. grease or oil spray the bowl that your dough was in. put your dough ball back into the bowl and flip it around to coat in oil/butter. cover it (i like to use plastic wrap with a towel on top) and let it sit out for 60-90min. at the end it should look puffier like this: dough
  8. put your bowl of covered dough in the fridge to rest overnight

day 2 instructions

your dough should have risen a bunch in the fridge and may now look ugly like this: dough nextday

  1. split your dough into 8 roughly-equal balls
  2. taking one ball of dough at a time, flatten the ball into a disk, then roll it up into a long log shape. put 3 fingers on top of the log, then wrap the dough around your fingers so about 2 inches overlap. then roll the dough seam so that it looks like a continuous ring of dough as shown below. doughshaping
  3. place the shaped dough onto baking sheets lined with silicone mats or parchment paper. cover again and let rise at room temperature for up to an hour.
  4. in the meantime, preheat the oven to 425F. prep your bagel toppings and egg wash. to make egg wash (optional but recommended), whisk together 1 egg yolk and a splash of milk/cream/water.
  5. in a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. add 2 tbsp of the alkalized baking powder and 1/4 cup of maple syrup (or honey, or brown sugar). doughbath
  6. carefully drop in 2-4 bagels at a time. they should float to the top of the water. let them boil for 30s to 1m on one side until a fried-looking layer forms, then flip them over and repeat for the other side. boiling
  7. when you have boiled the bagels on both sides, carefully remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a plate. brush them with egg wash if using. eggwash
  8. top generously with toppings toppings
  9. place the bagels back on the lined baking sheets and bake for 20min or until they turn golden brown.

here’s my first batch without parmesan in the dough, on the slightly less-cooked end at ~19min (how i prefer bagels): less donebagels

and here’s bagels at ~21min, which is how most people seem to prefer bagels: more donebagels

the next day, they were still really soft with a nice density and bite: day after bagels1 day after bagels2

for comparison, here’s a fresh-from-the-oven picture from my 2nd batch which used bread flour instead of AP and had parmesan mixed into the dough. the dough was a lot stickier / harder to work with due to the cheese (hence some of the uglier photos above), and the end result might be considered not-a-proper-bagel by bagel snobs. however i guarantee it is still tastier than almost any bagel you can find on the west coast. cheesybagel

happy experimenting!