These rosemary olive oil bagels are a near-perfect copycat for the ones you can get at Bruegger's Bagels. They're golden brown, chewy and tender, with nice herbal flavor from the olive oil and fresh minced rosemary.
My go-to bagel order for years, at least when I lived in proximity to a Bruegger's Bagels, was a rosemary olive oil bagel, toasted, with cream cheese. Preferably scallion cream cheese if they had it (and oh, it was a tragedy when they don't). But honestly, any cream cheese would do.
So it was inevitable, I suppose, without a Bruegger's nearby, that I'd come up with a rosemary olive oil bagel recipe of my very own. So let's get into it!
UPDATE 8/4/21— I've given this recipe a makeover with all new photos and refreshed, simplified instructions and a more robust FAQ!
Why this recipe works
When I first started making bagels many years ago, I tried making a "rosemary bagel" by putting minced fresh rosemary on top of my standard plain bagel recipe. I was sorely disappointed when the rosemary dried and shriveled unpleasantly in the oven.
It took me a few tries to get this copycat recipe for Breugger's rosemary olive oil bagels just right. If you use even a little too much oil, the bagels end up a little fluffier and lighter, more like an egg bagel.
I tried using an olive oil wash on the outside instead of an egg wash, but that just led to dusty, cracked bagel crusts. And if you're shy with the rosemary you might as well not use it at all.
The trick is to be heavy-handed with the fresh rosemary and use a lighter hand with the olive oil — but choose a high-quality olive oil with an assertive flavor. The end result is a chewy, dense bagel with lots of fresh, savory rosemary flavor which becomes quite fragrant when minced and infused in the olive oil.
What to serve on rosemary olive oil bagels
The funny thing about these bagels is that on their own, they're just not living up to their full potential.
As I was developing this recipe, I quickly realized that tasting the bagels on their own wasn't going to tell me when I had achieved a dupe of the Breugger's version. Once I added cream cheese to my taste test routine, they truly began to shine. (They're also great with egg or tuna salad and thinly sliced tomato and mayonnaise, fwiw.)
So yeah, plain rosemary olive oil bagels are... just fine. I feel this way about the Breugger's version, too. They're good. I like them. But pairing them with cream cheese is just *chefs kiss* perfection.
I knew I had nailed this recipe when the bagels on their own inspired a satisfied shrug, but the bagels with cream cheese sent me wooshing Ratatouille-style back to afternoons at the bus stop outside of a Breugger's in downtown Pittsburgh waiting for a ride home with my friends, bagels in hand.
A few quick bagel ingredient notes
You don't need a lot of fancy ingredients to make rosemary olive oil bagels. It's basically your standard bagel ingredients plus some olive oil and rosemary!
- All-purpose or bread flour - Either one will work for these. Bread flour is more traditional for bagel making because it's better at gluten development and creates chewier bagels. But all-purpose works just fine too.
- Brown sugar - I like the extra flavor the brown sugar adds to these bagels, but if you're out of it, just sub in the same amount of plain white sugar.
- Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt - I test all my recipes with Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which has a larger, airier crystal structure than other brands of salt. If using a different brand of salt, use half as much salt.
- Instant Yeast - Instant yeast can be added directly to your dry ingredients without blooming in water first. If you have active dry yeast, you can use it the same way, your dough might just be a little slower to rise (or will rise better somewhere warmer).
- Extra virgin olive oil - I use my fave California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil for these. It's affordable, accessible, I really like the flavor, and I know I can trust it to be the real deal (beware brands selling fake olive oil). You will taste the olive oil in these bagels, so pick a quality olive oil!
- Fresh rosemary sprigs - Use fresh rosemary sprigs. The dried stuff is brittle and hard and texturally unpleasant to eat in a bagel.
- Large egg - Whisked with a pinch of salt as an egg wash.
How to make rosemary olive oil bagel dough
The first step of making rosemary olive oil bagels is to make a rosemary infused olive oil. This is exactly what it sounds like — a mixture of olive oil and minced rosemary. You can do this up to a day or two before making the bagels. The longer the rosemary sits in the olive oil, the stronger the flavor will be and the softer the rosemary pieces will be.
While the rosemary infuses in the olive oil, mix your flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your mixer. Break up any lumps of brown sugar with your hands or a whisk.
Then add the instant yeast. Salt can kill yeast, so make sure the salt is mixed into the flour before adding yeast, or that the salt and yeast are in different parts of the bowl when you add the yeast.
Pour the lukewarm water into the center of the flour mixture along with the rosemary and olive oil infusion. If you live somewhere very humid, hold back a few tablespoons of water and only add them if the dough needs it. If you live somewhere very dry, you may need to add a few extra teaspoons of water (but only do this if absolutely necessary!).
Mixing vs. Kneading:
- Mixing the dough is the step where you want all the ingredients to just come together. There shouldn't be any dry bits of flour in the bottom of the bowl and it should mostly be one messy looking lump on the dough hook. It can take a few minutes before the dough is completely mixed, and you can use this time to add more water or more flour if the dough needs it.
- Kneading is the step after mixing, where you're developing gluten in the dough. Gluten provides strength and structure and you'll see your messy, lumpy dough become smooth and fully hydrated by the end of the kneading process.
Once the dough is kneaded, you'll put it in a bowl or bucket coated with a bit of olive oil and let it rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Dough rises faster in warm environments (ideally 72-75F), so if you live somewhere cold you'll want to put it somewhere warm, like your OFF oven with the oven light on. If you live somewhere very warm, just check on it a bit earlier than one hour — it might be ready sooner than an hour!
Slide the bar below back and forth to see the dough before and after a 1 hour rise.
How to shape bagels
I used my trusty 3 hour plain bagel recipe as the base for these, so they come together quickly and are very easy to shape. And this rosemary olive oil dough is super fun to work with, btw. I love bagel dough in general because it's so low hydration that it doesn't stick to me/the counter/everything. But the addition of olive oil makes it even more silky smooth and elastic than its plain bagel cousins, and it's just a lot of fun to make these, okay? Having fun is important!
This is the same tutorial from my recipe for plain bagels. The shaping is exactly the same, only the olive oil dough is slightly more elastic. You'll probably want to stretch the holes out again right before you boil them or they'll close up in the oven.
First, on an unfloured surface, divide the dough into equal sized pieces. If you're combining a few pieces of dough, stack them on top of each other with the smallest one are on top.
Then, fold all the edges up over the center, hiding any smaller pieces in the middle. The smooth side of the dough should be against the counter. The seam side of the bagel dough should be up.
Divide the dough into equal portions. If you're combining a few pieces together to make a portion, stack the smaller pieces on top of the bigger pieces. Tuck the edges up so the dough is smooth against the counter with a seam pinched together on top. Repeat until the dough ball feels fairly tight. Don't tear the dough, just stretch it.
Then, flip the dough over so the seam side is down against the counter. Cup your hand around the dough and slide it toward you. The dough will take on an oval shape. Rotate it 90 degrees and repeat to turn the oval into a round circle.
(Or, cup your hand around the dough with your pinkie-side flush against an unfloured counter and your thumb and forefinger making an O- or C-like shape above the dough. Move your hand in quick circles without picking your pinkie off the counter, and the dough will quickly shape itself into a nice smooth ball of dough.)
Once the dough has been shaped into balls, coat your hands in flour and stick a thumb through the bottom seam of the dough. Slide your other thumb in and gently squeeze and stretch, rotating the dough through your hands until the bagel hole is at least the same width as the sides of the bagel if not bigger.
You may want to repeat the stretching process again before boiling to keep the hole from closing up in the oven.
Once the bagels are shaped, you'll boil them for about a minute per side. Boiling gelatinizes the starches in the crust and gives you that classic shiny, smooth, chewy bagel exterior. If you skip this step you'll end up with bagel shaped bread. It might look like a bagel, but it will be missing that thing that makes bagels uniquely... bagely.
Once they've been boiled, all they need is a quick egg wash to make them shiny and golden brown. Then you bake them!
A few quick recipe notes
- If you want to intensify the flavors you can let the shaped bagels (before boiling) sit overnight (8-10 hours) in the fridge. This gives the rosemary more time to infuse in the dough, and slows the bagels' rise.
- A totally optional step for getting a nice crunchy bagel bottom is to lightly sprinkle your parchment paper or silicone mat with cornmeal or semolina flour before putting the boiled bagels down on them.
- I know I talked a lot about cream cheese above, but I usually make my own creamy goat cheese and use that instead.
- Bagel dough is a low hydration dough. Resist adding any more liquid to it than you need to. If you live somewhere very dry, you may need to add just a touch extra. If so, add about 1 teaspoon of olive oil and let the mixer run another 20-30 seconds before adding more, 1 teaspoon at a time. If the dough is very sticky that's a sign you added too much liquid; dust in more flour until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
"Doubled in size" is just a rough way of explaining what to look for before moving on to the next step. The real way to tell if your dough has finished proofing (that's baker for "rising") is to press a finger into the dough. The indent should fill back in a little, but not completely. If you press in and the dough deflates quickly, it has over-proofed. If this happens, give the dough a quick knead on the counter and then let it rest for 10 minutes. It will be okay. If the indent fills in immediately, you can let it rise a little bit longer.
Nope! Just plain water is absolutely fine.
Yes! You can use a baking steel to get extra crispy bagel bottoms. Preheat the baking steel at 425F for 45 minutes prior to baking. They'll bake for slightly less time than the recipe calls for — about 15-18 minutes. They're done when they reach above 190ºF on an instant read thermometer.
You can launch the bagels onto the steel on their own using a pizza peel, but I prefer cutting individual squares of parchment paper to go under each bagel on the steel just to really make sure they don't stick!
Add the yeast to the lukewarm water before adding the water to the dough. If the yeast gets bubbly, it's active! To avoid this concern in the future, keep your yeast in the freezer. It will stay good at least twice as long, and is less likely to be accidentally exposed to heat that can kill it.
rosemary olive oil bagels (bruegger's copycat)
- 500 grams all-purpose flour (3½ cups)
- 1½ tablespoon brown sugar (plain sugar will also work)
- 1½ teaspoon diamond crystal kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon instant yeast (active dry or instant)
- 285 grams warm water (1 cup + 3 tablespoon but you may need a little extra if you live somewhere dry)
- 15 grams olive oil (1 generous TBSP)
- 5 grams minced fresh rosemary (2 TBSP)
- Finely mince rosemary and combine with olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside to infuse until ready to use. (This can be made up to 48 hours before use, keep refrigerated if not using immediately).
- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with your hand to combine, then add yeast.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the water and minced rosemary-infused olive oil into it. Run the mixer on low speed to mix the dough, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. This may take several minutes. (If the dough seems really dry, drizzle in water 1 teaspoon at a time, letting the mixer run after each addition until it comes together on its own. You're looking for a fairly low hydration dough, so resist adding water unless absolutely necessary.)
- Once the dough has mostly come together in a shaggy mass on the dough hook, increase the mixer to medium and knead for 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky. Dust in additional flour if needed to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl.
- Shape the dough into a ball and drizzle a little bit of oil into the mixer bowl. Plop the dough inside and turn it around to coat it with oil. Cover and let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour, until it just about doubles in size. When you press it with a finger the indent should bounce back slightly but not completely.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, gently deflate it, then cover and let rest 10 more minutes.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal portions (use a kitchen scale for precision). Shape each portion of dough into a round dough ball with the smooth side on top and the "seam side" underneath.
- Starting with the first dough round you shaped, dip your thumb in flour and poke it through the bottom of the dough and out the other side. Slide your other thumb through next to it and begin stretching and squeezing the dough as you rotate it through your hands. Be careful not to tear the dough, just gently stretch it. Repeat with the rest of the dough rounds, then cover them with a damp paper towel and let them rest for 10 minutes.
- While the bagels rest, preheat your oven to 425°F and fill a large, high-sided skillet about halfway with water — just enough that there's room for the bagels to float without resting on the bottom. Bring to a low boil.
- Working in batches, boil the bagels 1 minute per side. For a larger bagel hole, stretch the bagels again immediately before boiling. Remove the boiled bagels to a silicone mat or parchment lined sheet pan sprinkled with corn meal.
- Whisk an egg with a pinch of salt, and brush it over the boiled bagels.
- Bake the bagels for 20 minutes in a 425°F oven. Remove to a rack to cool at least 10 minutes before slicing, if you can bear to wait that long.
- Once you shape the bagels, the dough will fill out while it rests and again when you boil it so don't be shy about making the holes slightly bigger than you think they should be. The bagel hole should be at least the same width as the sides of the bagel, if not slightly bigger.
- Bagels will stay good in an airtight bag up to 5 days.
- To freeze, slice bagels almost all the way through, then place in an airtight bag in the freezer.
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This post was originally published on 7/27/2020. Last updated 8/4/2021.