Slightly crisp on the outside, tender and chewy on the inside, a well-made bagel is a masterpiece of textures and flavors. Professional bakers invest a great deal of time and energy in their bagel-making processes to achieve the best-possible rings of glossy, spongy, perfectly yeasty bread. If you’re interested in prepping your own batch of bagels at home, you can rest easy: You don’t need the professional-grade equipment many bakers have in their bakery or restaurant kitchen.
We weighed in with a panel of bagel experts—owner Ryan Rosen of Brooklyn Breakfast Shop in Austin, Texas; founder Josh Allen of Companion Baking in St. Louis, Missouri; Karina Orozco, head pastry chef at Spill The Beans in San Diego, California; and co-founders Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira of Call Your Mother Deli in Washington, D.C.—to find out the pieces home bakers should rely on.
Keep reading for the eight kitchen tools and pieces of equipment they recommend you have on hand for your best at-home bagels.
1. Typhoon Farmhouse Kitchen Scale, $40
Because baking requires serious precision, Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira recommend investing in a kitchen scale that allows you to weigh out each ingredient. “We prefer to measure our recipes in weights, even at home, so a kitchen scale is great for making sure you have the exact amounts of each ingredient,” they say. “You can also use the scale to separate your dough into equal portions so that the bagels are uniform, bake evenly, and come out looking beautiful!”
The Typhoon Farmhouse Kitchen Scale features a 1.2-quart stainless steel bowl that’s simple to wipe clean and big enough to fit sizable ingredient quantities, and the dial display is both easy to read and offers values in several different denominations (like ounces, pounds, and grams).
While some bagel makers swear by hand-kneading the dough, our experts agree that this process is a long one and that a classic tool like this can seriously cut down your dough-making time: “A table-top stand mixer makes life so much easier. It saves you about 15 minutes of kneading the dough by hand,” Karina Orozco explains.
KitchenAid’s legendary stand mixer is a consummate kitchen multitasker, and you can add “bagel-dough perfector” to its long list of descriptors. “I love KitchenAid stand mixers. They’re super reliable and last forever,” Ryan Rosen says. “Depending on how many bagels you’re making, I’d highly suggest a minimum of a five-quart mixer with dough hook attachment.” This mixer comes with both a six-quart bowl and a dough hook, so you’ll be ready to dive right into your bagel project.
3. Extra Large Dough-Rising Bucket, $12.95
After using your mixer’s dough hook to get the bagel dough ready, transfer the dough to “a container to store [it] while it proofs,” Rosen recommends. The proofing process happens when you place the dough-storage container in a warm area to rise. This can happen in a large bowl with plastic wrap over the top, but Rosen prefers to use a clear proofing container with a lid that gives you full visibility of the dough’s rising progress.
The King Arthur Baking Dough Proofing Container has a two-quart capacity, but because Rosen recommends a minimum of a four-quart vessel for letting the dough rise, opt for King Arthur’s extra-large version (unless you’re making a small batch).
Once the bagel dough has risen, it’ll need to be shaped into rings and boiled—this is what gives bagels that chewy outer crust. In order to do this, Josh Allen emphasizes the need for a large pot. “It’s important to have a large pot with plenty of water in order to ensure that the temperature of the water doesn’t fall significantly when the bagels are added in.”
Rosen suggests going with a pot with at least six quarts of capacity and recommends looking for one that’s stainless steel, since they heat rapidly and there’s no risk of the dough sticking to the sides of the pot. The eight-quart model of the sleek Hestan Thomas Keller Insignia Stainless Steel Stock Pot offers the right capacity for bagel boiling, and it includes special features like cool-to-the-touch handles and easy-to-clean flat interior rivets.
5. OXO Thermocouple Digital Thermometer, $104.99
Bagel-making calls for yeast proofing and bread boiling, so it’s important to have a sense of the water temperatures that you’re dealing with. That’s why Orozco suggests having a thermometer on hand. “If you are working with active dry yeast, you don’t want to kill your yeast with too hot of a temperature, or not activate it with [water that’s] too cold.”
The OXO Thermocouple Digital Thermometer uses a metal tip to gauge temperature, so it can be used for liquids just as easily as it can be used for roasted meats. The digital display is easy to see, it can provide both Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature readings, and it registers temperature in just two or three seconds.
Retrieving the boiled bagels from the stock pot can be done with several different tools, but Rosen tells us that his favorite bagel-fishing device is a spider. The basket-like skimmer has a conveniently round scooping section, which makes it easy to grab hold of the floating bagels. This Hiware model is made of stainless steel, making it durable, temperature-retaining, and easy to clean.
While a spider is an effective pick for the bagel-making process, it’s not the only option out there. Dana and Moreira, for example, prefer to catch their bagels with a “sturdy and nimble fish spatula” because it allows you to turn and fetch the bagels out of the boiling water while still retaining their shape. The Wüsthof Gourmet Slotted Spatula, while pricey, is the best-in-class version of this tool, and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Our experts agree that durable, nonstick baking sheets are crucial for baking the best bagels. Because you want a bit of crispiness from the bagel’s crust, a heat-retaining sheet proves highly useful. Nordic Ware’s Natural Aluminum Baking Sheets boast a cult following among pro chefs and bakers for their sturdiness, their warp resistance, and their easy-clean nature.
8. Outset Ceramic 14 in. Pizza Stone, $40.99
Baking stones, also known as pizza stones, can be used in lieu of baking sheets for bagel making, and Allen tends to favor these stones. “A baking stone makes a big difference in crust development and chewiness,” he says. “If you’ve properly mixed and fermented your dough and then taken the step to boil your bagels, you want to ensure you’ve got good conductive (bottom-up) heat for baking. You’ll get better bloom in the oven and a better overall product [with a baking stone].”
The Outset Pizza Stone’s ceramic material conducts heat brilliantly (it can reach temperatures up to 1450 degrees Fahrenheit), and its rectangular shape mimics the dimensions of a typical baking sheet, which makes it easier to position the bagels.
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