Bagels (a dedication to the late Murray Lender)

Most Americans were introduced to bagels through the frozen bagged bagels by Lender’s. In all honesty the bagels in a bag weren’t all that great, but they made the doughnut shaped breads a household staple. People no longer had to search for a Jewish bakery to find them. Today Murray Lender died and in honor of the man who put the bagel on the American map, we are sharing our recipe for making bagels at home. They are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside and so easy to make.

Preheat the oven to 450° with a pizza stone on the top rack. (Yes, this is different than the book.)

Also have ready a cookie sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel that is dusted with flour.


Form several 3 ounce balls of dough, as you can see they are about the size of a head of garlic. I used the Master recipe here, but you can also use the Bagel recipe, Montreal Bagels, Whole Wheat or any other non-enriched dough from the book for this. Cover the balls loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 20 minutes or until they no longer feel chilled.

While they are resting bring to a boil:

8 quarts of water

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Have ready:

Sesame seeds, poppy seeds or any other toppings you may want for your bagels.  There were strong opinions expressed on Twitter about the toppings for bagels, let us know what your favorites are.


Once they have rested, dust the ball in flour and poke a hole in the center using your thumbs.


Continue to stretch the hole and add more flour if the cut part of the dough gets sticky.


You want to stretch the hole quite a bit,


because it will shrink back like you see above.


Place the bagels in the water, get as many as will fit without crowding. Boil for 1 minute, then flip over and boil for another 30 seconds.


Scoop out the bagels with a slotted spoon and allow the water to drain off.


Place on the towel covered cookie sheet. Continue the last 3 steps with the rest of the bagels. If you are doing more than 2 boiling batches, you will need to get those first two batches in the oven and then continue with the rest.


Carefully lift the boiled bagels and dip them on both sides with your topping. If you are using something that may burn easily like onions or garlic then only coat the top of the bagel and dust the peel with flour. If you are using seeds then you don’t need the additional flour on your peel.


If you are using seeds then you don’t need the additional flour on your peel.


Slide the bagels into the preheated oven, add the water to a broiler tray to create steam. bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.


Serve them slightly warm with anything you like!  A bagel cutter can be a helpful and safer tool for cutting bagels than using a knife.

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315 thoughts on “Bagels (a dedication to the late Murray Lender)

  1. Since the advent of the 5 minute no-knead bread, I have totally immersed myself in bread baking. No longer do I think about getting a loaf of bread from the store. Now I can prepare the dough one day and bake it another. I don’t have to plan in the morning a loaf of bread I want ready by dinner time. Especially when I have to be at work during the day and can’t wait around for a second rise.

    Thank you so much for all of your efforts in putting together this book and your website. I have the book on my Christmas wish list, but would love to win a copy….I am 12 on the waitlist at my library. I think it will take about 6 months before I ever see it from them!!!!!!!!!

  2. My grandmother and my mother both baked bread. My mom would always make homemade applesauce in the fall and make homemade bread to go with the warm, homemade applesauce. To this day when there is a rainy day in the fall I remember those two tastes and smells. There was nothing that smelled better than homemade bread baking. Those are great memories.


  3. I began baking bread many years ago because we lived in a little mining time without much of a grocery store and because we were 60 miles from the nearest real town where we could obtain good bread. I recently borrowed your book from the library and tried several recipes – love it and will need a copy for my very own. Congrats on the anniversary!

  4. Well I have to say my breadmaking eforts have not been the most successful. Tried loaves of bread both regular and with a breadmaking machine but they didn’t turn out too great.

    The best I did over the years were some super cinnamon buns. For some reason they turned out well. Used to have to put them up in my son’s room to rise – warmest room in the house!

    Needless to say even though I am 70, I love to cook and would really love this recipe book. All the recipes I have seen so far are amazing. Thanks

  5. Sadly, I don’t have any bread baking memories because everytime I try to make bread, it turns out catastrophic. Once, I tried making bread-style pizza dough and it just wouldn’t rise. I left it there for hours. Nothing. Straight into the trash it went. I want to learn how to make bread though! The levels of bread consumption in this house are way too high for me not to learn.

  6. Wow. A year already? You’ve done such fabulous things in one year’s time. I’ve really been enjoying your book and the simplicity of the recipes. My husband and kids have most enjoyed having fresh bread, rolls or pizza almost every day. It gives me a great sense of pride to be able to create something so wonderful in such a short time. Very satisfying. Thanks for the tips on bagels. These will be next!

  7. Hooray for your first anniversary!

    Hooray, too, for my family who no longer purchases loaf breads and take-out pizza (now if I could just learn to roll flour tortillas thin enough and get them whole into the skillet!). We’ve perfected a great whole grain and nut sandwich bread based on your techniques. Friends love to drop in on pizza night.

    Looking forward to your next book!

  8. Congratulations! I am still trying to duplicate the wonder of “Jeff and Zoe” bread that I was lucky enough to sample at Brett’s Table. The oven finally died yesterday. Sound familiar Zoe? I now have bake and broil but no convection, a situation up with which I will not put, as Winston Churchill would have said.
    My favorite bread baking memory is of making braided apple bread when I lived in Zaire. This was in the era of the Tassajara Bread book, before bread machines, bagel machines and Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. After one sifted the weevils out of the flour, the bread was quite a treat.

  9. Well, I cheated with my first attempt at making bread. I used my bread machine and used ingredients that were supposed to make french bread, which usually has a hard, firm crust. But after it was done, I had a brick. No, not a brick. A slab of stone. It was heavy, it was hard, like diamond hard and totally useless. After muscling off a slice with a bread knife, I tried to chew on it and was sure I chipped part of a tooth.

    Seriously, NASA should look into it – the could make rockets out of that thing.

  10. I love the way the bagels look, they look pretty easy too.

    Ok my bread story. My fiancee really wants to move to a farm one day and have us be all sustainable and self sufficient. So I figured in order to do this I would need to be able to make bread. So I try the bread, just a basic white bread, thought it was going to be super hard. I loved doing it and as the winter gets cooler I plan on making some each week. I love the taste of home baked bread and I love the smell it gives the house. He loved it so much he ate almost the whole loaf.

  11. hello+happy bookiversary!
    i grew up making challah every friday to enjoy with our sabbath meal.
    in recent years i have picked up this tradition and tried to bake challah every friday, but it does require about 4 hours of your time, and should be ready before sundown-so it didnt always happen. your method has made bread baking so enjoyable and i am able to bake bread as needed! i also have been experimenting with your recipes because of a wheat allergy and find that 100% spelt flour works really well in all the recipes i have tried, including bagels which i missed soooo much! i plan to buy your book for a family member that also cannot eat wheat. (we are both lucky enough to be able to eat other gluten-just not wheat). thank you thank you!

  12. I don’t have any childhood bread baking memories.. Until my mother purchased a bread machine there was no bread being baked in our house! My mother just bought your book recently though and is raving about it- so things have certainly changed!

  13. Congratulations and may you have many more years creating wonderful books together!

    I first made bread in the 70s (in college) using the Tassajara Bread book. Whole wheat bread, at that time, was rather exotic!

  14. I would very much like to think that I was among the very first persons in Finland who got your book. By accident I found information of it and Amazon kindly mailed it promptly at the beginning of this year. I have arMy kids have VERY strict opinion of what is good bread and what is not. Always, always the best praises gets your European Peasant bread. Only the name of this bread in our family is Mom´s Yam Yam Delicious Bread. Sorry, but I am quite happy with this new name!

    Once I was on my way to meet my friend who lives in the northern parts of our country, quite close to the Artic Circle. I was planning to take a few days old bread dough with me on flight and surprise my friend. I started to feel sorry for the dough – who likes hights! – and decided to make a dough from scratch with my friend. – BECAUSE IT IS SO EASY AND DELICIOUS!

    We also have a tradition with kids that Friday is our Pizza Day. That is why I always have European Peasant Bread dough in my fridge, baking pizza has never been easier and faster. Neighborhood ladies are green with envy because they think I am a super mom who after a hard days work is creating a delicious pizza out of nowhere, just like that! Like magic! But you and I know the trick… 😉

    Thank you for this trick and thank you for a wonderful year!!! Thank you also for being so active on this blog.

    I wish you and your families a very nice autumn time!
    TiV from Finlandound 500 cook books (yes, grazy, I know…) and very many of them is of baking which is my dearest hobbies. The more difficult recipe the better. Yeah yeah… And in the end the easiest one, your book, is the most used one!!! 🙂

  15. Sorry- somehow part of my text from the beginning of the message had jumped to the end.. part should be as follows:

    I have around 500 cook books (yes, grazy, I know…) and very many of them is of baking which is my dearest hobbies. The more difficult recipe the better. Yeah yeah… And in the end the easiest one, your book, is the most used one!!! 🙂

  16. Those bagels look delicious! I always forget to pull the centers out enough, so seeing how far to stretch them is a great reminder.

  17. I’m a new “convert” to the Artisan Bread method, but I’m loving having dough in the fridge and ready to go – this week alone I’ve made pitas and a calzone for dinner and will finish up this bucket with bread tonight.

    Thank you and Happy Anniversary!

  18. I have obviously been living under a rock! I just learned of your book through a blog I follow. I call myself a yeast-o-phobe because I’m always afraid of working with it – that it won’t turn out! I can not wait to try this bread – like tomorrow morning!!!
    Happy Anniversary! And I thank you – my waist-line probably doesn’t but I do 🙂

  19. I just wanted to say thanks for the wonderful cookbook! I use it at least once a week and no longer buy bread from the store. I brought a few loaves into work and have since had to lend out my book to multiple coworkers! Everyone was thrilled with it (so I’ve told them to get their own copy!). Wonderful!

  20. I just bought my 68 year old father this book as he has recently decided to start making bread, never to old to learn 🙂

  21. Zoë and Jeff: You know how much I love your book! Happy Anniversary. You are great inspirations and so quick to respond to questions here, and give helpful advice.



  22. Bread. I still haven’t gotten the hang of it. Yeast, tell me your secrets! I think my goal for the winter will be to master just one bread thing, like pizza dough. I can’t get it to the point where I feel comfortable with its consistency. Is there too much flour? Too little? It’s too sticky–or it’s been overmixed! I hope more practice will do the trick.

  23. Thank you for posting on Tastespotting! I bake bread several times a week in our home, and I have not heard of your book or method until I saw the post today. I am anxious to give it a try…as I have already made my kitchen into somewhat of a science project in the past trying new recipes. Your starter in the fridge (and particularly these bagels) are very interesting indeed.

    Of all baking and cooking I do, bread seems to be the most mysterious and rewarding. My Mother and Grandmother were both bread makers, and being Hispanic, also very proud of having mastered the elusive flour tortillas which always seemed miraculous to me given the whole idea of “by feel”. I preferred my Mother’s, and I can hear my Grandmother’s voice upon tasting: “You needed to use more flour in these”.

    Congratulations on your anniversary, and congratulations on your inspiration to countless people (just judging from your comments here) to make such a staple of life in their own homes.


  24. Congratulations! I would love your book!

    Can I use Spelt flour instead of all purpose in the Master Recipe? I’m guessing it will make a bit of a tougher dough?

  25. Hi Hannah,

    As you said, if you substitute 100% spelt flour for the master recipe you will end up with a denser loaf. We will have lots of spelt recipes in our new book, but that won’t be out until next year.

    Thank you for writing! Zoë

  26. Hello you guys,

    I just whipped up the buttermilk dough and let it rise for aprox. 1.5 hours (my dorm room is warm), cut off a grapefruit sized piece, cloaked it quickly, and stretched it out into a rectangle with intent to make the cinnamon raisin loaf. I put a little butter, sugar, and raisins on, rolled it up, dropped it in the greased pan, and heated the oven to 375 while I let the loaf rise. I waited until the loaf was risen to about the level of the top of the 9 by 5 by 3 inch glass bread pan and put it in the oven (no baking stone), and poured a cup of water into a preheated metal pan in the oven. When I came back later, the top was crispy but completely blond and the bread hadn’t sprung at all. I waited ten more minutes for it to brown but it only succeeded in making a thick, slightly darker crust, and still no spring. Do you know what I might have done wrong? Thanks… I would love to have this in working order as your system is ideal for a college student with no interest in typical college student fair.


  27. My bread-baking started with my mom, who bakes challah every Friday. When I was little I used to help her punch down the dough and make the braids. Needless to say, I’ve been hooked ever since!

  28. Congrats on your anniversary and the success of your book!

    I tried many times to bake bread the traditional way, sometimes it worked out and sometimes it didn’t, and it was never as wonderful as your recipes! I love to bake, but never got the hang of bread before. Thanks for making it fun and delicious! Can’t wait for your new book. 🙂

  29. Lily: When I think of college cooking situations, the first question that comes to mind is the oven– I had a toaster oven in college. What kind of oven are you working with, and did you check the temperature with a thermometer? Sounds like a too-cool oven– no color or spring.

    Let’s hear about that first and then move to other explanations if that’s not it… Jeff

  30. I began baking bread when it became obvious that our youngest son (now 35) was alergic to artificial ingredients. At the time I was one of few stay-at-home mothers in the neighborhood, and I offered childcare in our home. I fed all the children breakfast, lunch and snacks each day. I baked several loaves of bread daily, as the consumption rate was high. All the children would “help” with the mixing, kneading and shaping, and were most happy to help with the tasting.

    Our older children would usually have herds of friends follow them home from school each day, and all would get fresh hunks of bread (or freshly-baked brownies)still warm, slathered with butter as they gathered on the front porch. They would eat and eat, with the butter dripping all over them.

    I still bake daily, and I guess I am now one of the “grandmothers” who pass on their love of cooking to the next generation. One of our favorite acitivities when the grandkids visit is to make individual fresh pizzas so that each child can shape and twirl the dough and add just what he wants to his OWN pizza.

  31. One of the best days for me (even though I didn’t realize it at the time) was when my bread machine broke.

    I hadn’t made bread by hand in years- I was fortunate enough to have a home ec class way back in grade school that introduced me to the wonders of yeast- and although I was initially dreading the time commitment, I find myself making a loaf every other week. It’s almost as soothing as getting a massage- and you have that irresistible scent of freshly baked bread at the end.

    I’ve never tried bagels before, but you make them look just too good. Perhaps this weekend, when I really can relax and have the time to savor them.

  32. I rarely bake bread myself because I’m not that great at it even though i really want to learn how to do so. My story is that there’s a older lady at my home church who regularly bakes fresh white bread and soups for college students and others in the church. Its a great thing to have on a cold winter day, a fresh loaf of bread and homemade chicken soup.

  33. My first attempts at baking breads were in the early 70’s when the hippie whole grains were the rage. Most of them ended up in the garbage. I love these new 5 minute breads and I’m thrilled to hear you will be coming out with a new book featuring more grains. Makes the old hippie in me happy

  34. I’ve had your book for a couple of weeks now, and I just love it. I’ve been baking every day, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m pregnant, but all I want to eat is fresh bread. The baby loves it, too. Forget caffeine and sugar, if I want to get her moving, I eat homemade bread and chevre.

    I just made these bagels for lunch, and they were amazing. Thanks!

  35. I am getting my little sister to teach me her bread-baking secrets. (yes, my LITTLE sister, it’s almost unforgivable) She was in FHA and won a ribbon for her bread. Times were hard back then and she learned to make a MEAN ciabatta!

  36. I don’t remember my grandmother baking much bread when I was little, but she got a bread machine about the same time I went away to college. Every couple weeks I’d get a loaf of bread in the mail, well wrapped in both plastic wrap and foil. Those loaves were the best I’ve ever had.

  37. I’ve really enjoyed your book. I got my civil engineer, Montana farm boy dad to even start making his own bread. Thanks for making my love for making bread easier and faster.

  38. Happy Anniversary, Zoe and Jeff! Time for more champagne 🙂

    If it weren’t for your book and method I would not be baking bread as often as I do now. I love the simplicity of the method and the bread is wonderful. BTW, I am IN LOVE with Aunt Melissa’s granola too! I thank you, my husband thanks you, my family thanks you!

  39. I don’t have any memories of baking bread, although I do remember my grandmother’s razor sharp serated bread knife. She didn’t bake the bread, but she lived in the country and bought the loaves from the Amish farmers market every week. I remember thinking it was the best bread and the scariest knife. I like to bake bread myself, both for the tactile pleasure, the pure enjoyment of the results and so my children can someday have the kind of memories that so many people have written about here. Thanks for the great book. My fingers are crossed.

  40. To the Great Bread Recipers Zoe and Jeff,
    Read about the five minute bread in the Seattle PI. We are bread snobs and have been buying these beautiful artisan loaves from fine bakeries here in Seattle.
    Were. After the first loaf all bread buying ceased. Ours is better. Thank you for teaching us.
    Warmth to you and yours,

  41. Congratulations 🙂 I’ve so wanted to get your book but books are too expensive in Canada and last time I was in the US, I couldn’t carry anything heavy… Anyway, I made bread for the first time in my life in June ( by following Martha Stewart’s method. It was a scary experience but the result was not bad at all, for a first time. Actually, the end result was more pretty than tasty, but I was quite proud of myself. I so wish I had a good book that explained things step by step… Homemade bread is to die for!

  42. Unfortunately bread-baking was not in my past growing up. I only knew canned biscuits like Hungry Jack! But…I’m making sure my daughters know how to make bread. I’ve just found out about your book and website and am so interested in finding out more. Hopefully, my girls will look back and have many bread-baking memories to tell my grandchildren. I’d love to be entered for one of your books.

  43. I recently was introduced to your book through blogging connections. About 15 or more years ago I made a bread a few times to just mediocre results. Recently I have been making bread again. I have made several loaves in the last month with different recipes. They are turning out great! I am going to try yours out this weekend. Thank you and happy anniversary. What an inspiration you are.

  44. Happy 1st anniversary!

    Artisan Bread in 5 mins, the thought of it is already so amazing. I am still a novice, started playing with the dough for the first time, making mini bagels. It’s time consuming due to the proofing of the dough. But if I can do it in 5 mins, why not? Having the book, will make me want to make home-made bread more often!

  45. I have never been a successful bread baker. I can bake a halfway decent loaf in a bread machine and very good quick breads but yeast bread has always been a bit overwhelming. My late MIL and my SIL bake the absolute best and lightest yeast rolls most people have ever eaten. Recently I tried the very same recipe and mine were hard as rocks. I have just heard about your method and I plan to try it asap. I have hope that I might just be able to bake good bread. It would be really wonderful to win a copy of your book!

  46. I love homemade bagels!
    I love baking bread too. I’ve been baking for a long time. I remember when I first started i’d get the frozen dough and then bake that. Then i moved up to recipes I found in cookbooks or online. I’ve had many adventures from baking bricks to wonderful bread that is gone the min it’s out of the oven.
    Just recently i’ve gotten into artisan bread. and I’m totally obsessed. I have the 5 min a day bread book on my christmas wishlist. b/c While i love baking bread i only do it once a week or every 2 weeks and being able to bake bead daily is awesome!
    I’d love to win the book too!

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