Egg bagels or plain bagels — what’s your preference? If you’re all about the egg bagel, keep reading. (If you said plain bagels, click here.)
I don’t know about you but egg bagels were the standard in my house growing up. My mom bought those bright yellow frozen Lender’s egg bagels that came in sleeves of six. I eschewed the toaster in favor of defrosting them in 10-20 seconds bursts in the microwave to give them a nice chewy texture before slathering them with butter that melted into the crumb. As a kid I always assumed egg bagels were superior to plain bagels the same way egg matzah is superior to plain matzah. For much of my early childhood, egg bagels were the only bagel as far as I was concerned.
Of course my palette grew as I did, and these days I’m more adventurous in my bagel eating. I love a Bruegger’s rosemary olive oil bagel, a pumpkin bagel, everything and sesame bagels, asiago bagels, garlic and fennel bagels, you name it. And most bagels use a plain water bagel as the base. But a few weeks ago I found myself craving a good old fashioned egg bagel — the kind that rises high with a chewy exterior that sticks in your teeth. So I started tinkering with my trusty 3-hour bagel recipe to see if I could adapt it to work with eggs. And I could! Which means you can too.
Egg bagels get their yellow color and chewy, airy texture from the addition of, you guessed it, eggs. I started by swapping some of the water in my usual bagel recipe for egg yolks, increasing the number of yolks with each batch. I wanted to use the fewest number of egg yolks possible to still produce a bagel that was unmistakably an egg bagel. A good egg bagel, imo, should have a deliciously chewy and light texture with a thin crust and that distinctive yellow color (without any help from food coloring).
Most of the egg bagel recipes I saw in my research used eight or more (!!!) whole egg yolks. I didn’t want to end up with eight leftover egg whites, so the final recipe uses 3 egg yolks and 3 whole eggs. To give the egg bagels a slightly more intense flavor I used brown sugar instead of white sugar, and dissolved 1/8 cup of brown sugar in the water I boiled them in. They’re so, so, so good.
how to shape bagels
Here’s a quick refresher on how to shape bagels. One note: Unlike plain bagels, egg bagels need to rest for 10 minutes after you shape them into rounds (step 3) and before you poke the holes (step 4).
some quick notes on egg bagels
- Large egg yolks weigh 18 grams and whole large eggs (minus the shell) weigh 50 grams. If you want eggier egg bagels with an even bolder yellow color, you can use up to 8 egg yolks and no egg whites. Egg whites are 90% water, so you’ll just need to adjust the amount of water accordingly.
- Boiling the bagels helps set the crust before they bake. You’ll notice the outside texture of the bagel becomes slightly gelatinous after boiling. The longer you boil them the thicker that crust will be. I like a thinner, chewier crust on my egg bagels, so I boil them for 30-60 seconds per side. If you prefer a thicker crust, you can boil them for up to 2 minutes per side.
- When shaping the dough into rounds before you poke the holes in them, use an unfloured surface and don’t flour your hands. You want the dough to stick slightly to the counter to help create tension and give the dough rounds a smooth exterior.
- You want the bagels to be as smooth as possible on the outside before you boil them. Boiling sets the crust in place, so if the underside of your bagels have visible seams where the dough hasn’t fully stuck to itself again, let the bagels rest 10-15 more minutes before boiling to give the dough time to smooth out.
- If you want to refrigerate the bagels overnight, reduce the amount of yeast to 1½ tsp and cover them with a damp paper towel and then loosely with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out.
- Save one of the egg whites to use as an egg wash for the egg bagels, and you can save the other egg whites for making a scramble, for Swiss meringue buttercream, or to make a standard meringue for a pavlova. You can also freeze egg whites in an airtight container if you aren’t planning to use them right away.
- The most traditional egg bagel topping is poppy seeds (I used black sesame seeds here because I couldn’t find poppy seeds) but you can really use any topping you like. Use an egg wash whether or not you use a topping to get a nice shiny exterior.
homemade egg bagels
- 500 grams flour (3½ cups)
- 19 grams brown sugar (1½ TBSP)
- 11 grams kosher salt (1½ tsp)
- 2 tsp yeast
- 3 eggs (150g)
- 3 egg yolks (54g)
- 100 grams warm water (95-105°F)
- ⅛ cup cornmeal (optional, for crisp bagel bottoms)
- 2 TBSP poppy seeds (optional, for topping)
- Combine flour, brown sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- Whisk eggs, egg yolks, and water together until well combined. Reserve one egg white to use as an egg wash later.
- Make a well in the center of the dry mixture. Pour the eggs and water into the center of the well. Run the mixer with the dough hook on a low-medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed until a shaggy dough forms. Then knead the dough for 2-3 minutes on low speed until it becomes smooth, elastic, and slightly tacky (but not sticky) to the touch.
- Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest, covered, in a lightly greased bowl for 1 hour or until doubled in size.When the dough has doubled, punch it down, then cover and let rest 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Use a kitchen scale if you want to be precise.
- To shape the dough into rounds, gently flatten a piece of dough on a clean, unfloured surface. Then fold the top of the dough down over the middle, rotate the dough 45° and repeat. Keep going all the way around the dough, folding the top edge down over the middle until you have a smooth surface against your counter and the "seam" side facing up. Flip the dough over and cup your hand gently around it with your pinkie against the counter. Slide your hand toward your body to push the dough ball closer to you. This will increase the surface tension on top of the dough and shape it into an oval. Rotate the dough 90° and repeat the sliding motion to turn the oval into a circle. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Cover with a damp paper towel and let rest 10 minutes.
- Starting with the dough round that had the most time to rest, dip your thumb in flour and poke it through the bottom seam of the dough and out the other side. Slide your other thumb in next to it and stretch the dough by squeezing and rotating it through your hands until the center hole is at least the same width as the outside of the bagel. Don't squeeze too hard or tear the dough; gentle pressure as you rotate the bagel through your hands will slowly stretch it just fine.Repeat with the rest of the dough rounds. Cover the shaped bagels with a damp paper towel and let rest 10 minutes.
- While the bagels rest, fill a large, high-sided skillet about halfway with water. Dissolve ⅛ cup brown sugar in the water and bring to a low, gentle boil. Preheat the oven to 425°F with rack in the middle of the oven.
- Working in batches, boil the bagels 1 minute per side. Remove the bagels to a parchment or silicone mat lined sheet pan dusted lightly with cornmeal.
- Whisk together one of the leftover egg whites with a splash of water and pinch of salt to make an egg wash. Brush the boiled bagels with the egg wash and sprinkle with your preferred toppings.
- Bake the bagels for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
- If the dough seems dry during the kneading step, add water ½ TBSP at a time, kneading between additions. If the dough seems too wet, add flour 2 TBSP at a time, kneading between additions. This is a low hydration dough, so try not to add water unless you really think you need to.
- If kneading the dough by hand, it will take about 8-10 minutes of hand kneading on a lightly floured countertop for the dough to come together.
- Store bagels in an airtight bag or container. They’ll stay good for 3-4 days. You can also slice them almost all the way through and freeze them.