Behind the Scenes

Chef Shanna Shows Us How to Make Homemade Bagels + Lox

Chef’s Counter: expert info from our culinary pros.

Inspired by her many trips to New York City to visit family as a kid, Chef Shanna shares with us her go-to recipes to create bagels and lox from scratch. Endlessly customizable (and easier to make than most home cooks might realize) these homemade bagels are a quintessential New York staple. Enjoy!

Homemade Bagels Recipe


1 tablespoon barley malt syrup, honey, or 1 teaspoon diastatic malt powder (we used malt powder in the video!)
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water (about 95°F)
3.5 cups unbleached bread flour
Plastic wrap & parchment paper

Poaching liquid
2 to 3 quarts water
1.5 tablespoons barley malt syrup or honey (optional)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Toppings: Caraway seeds, coarse salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, everything bagel seasoning


1. To make the dough, stir the malt powder, yeast, and salt into the lukewarm water. Place the flour into a medium bowl and pour in the malt syrup mixture. Use a large, sturdy spoon and stir for about 3 minutes, until well blended. The dough should form a stiff, coarse ball, and the flour should be fully hydrated; if it isn’t, stir in a little more water.

2. Transfer dough to a very lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for about 5 minutes to smooth out the dough and develop the gluten. The dough should be stiff yet supple, with a satiny, barely tacky feel. If the dough seems too soft or overly tacky, mix or knead in a little more flour.

3. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

4. When you’re ready to shape the bagels, prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper, then lightly coat it with oil. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal pieces. (A typical bagel is about 4 ounces or 113 grams before baking).

5. There are two methods to shape the balls into bagels: the first method is to form each piece into a loose ball by rolling it on a clean, dry work surface with a cupped hand. (Don’t use any flour on the work surface. If the dough slides around and won’t ball up, wipe the surface with a damp paper towel and try again; the slight bit of moisture will provide enough traction for the dough to form into a ball). Poke a hole through the center of the ball to create a donut shape. Holding the dough with both thumbs in the hole, rotate the dough with your hands, gradually stretching it to create a hole about 2 inches in diameter.

6. The second method, preferred by professional bagel makers, is to use both hands (and a fair amount of pressure) to roll the ball into a rope about 8 inches long on a clean, dry work surface. (Again, wipe the surface with a damp towel, if necessary, to create sufficient friction on the work surface.) Taper the rope slightly at each end and moisten the last inch or so of the ends. Place one end of the dough in the palm of your hand and wrap the rope around your hand to complete the circle, going between your thumb and forefinger and then all the way around. The ends should overlap by about 2 inches. Squeeze the overlapping ends together by closing your hand, then press the seam into the work surface, rolling it back and forth a few times to seal. Remove the dough from your hand, squeezing it to even out the thickness if need be and creating a hole of about 2 inches in diameter.

7. Place each shaped bagel on the prepared sheet pan, then brush with a light coating of oil. Cover the entire pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.


1. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator 60 minutes before you plan to bake them. Once they’ve rested, check whether the bagels are ready for baking using the “float test”: Place one of the bagels in a small bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn’t float back to the surface, shake it off, return it to the pan, and wait for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they’re all ready to be boiled. If they pass the float test before you are ready to boil and bake them, return them to the refrigerator so they don’t overproof. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. To make the poaching liquid, fill a pot with 2 to 3 quarts of water, making sure the water is at least 4 inches deep. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium high to maintain at a steady simmer. Stir in the malt syrup, baking soda, and salt (watch the pot carefully as the baking soda tends to bubble over if the heat is too high).

3. Gently lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid, adding as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. They should all float to the surface within 15 seconds. After 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to turn each bagel over. Poach for another 30 to 60 seconds, then use the slotted spoon to transfer it back to the oiled sheet tray, domed side up. (It’s important that the parchment paper be lightly oiled, or the paper will glue itself to the dough as the bagels bake.) Sprinkle on a generous amount of whatever toppings you like as soon as the bagels come out of the water.

4. Transfer the tray of bagels to the oven and bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and check the underside of the bagels. If they’re getting too dark, place another pan under the baking sheet. (Doubling the pan will insulate the first baking sheet.) Bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, until the bagels are a golden brown.

5. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving. Bagels can be frozen for months or stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Sprinkle with water and reheat in a 350°F oven until crusty and warm.

Homemade Cured Salmon Recipe

2 lb salmon fillet, skin on (pin bones removed)
1 large bunch dill, coarsely chopped/torn
1/4 cup (40g) sea salt
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

Optional add-ons
1 tbsp ground white pepper
1 tsp ground allspice
6 crushed juniper berries (can sub with a splash of gin)
Lemon zest
2 medium beets, cooked and coarsely grated (wring or press to remove as much excess juice as possible)

1. If using, toast whole spices 3-5 minutes until fragrant, let cool. Grind in mortar and pestle. If using, grate beets and wring out moisture. Combine dill, salt, sugar and ground spices in a medium bowl and mix until combined.

2. Lay cheesecloth across the bottom of a wire rack in a baking sheet (or in a large baking dish), leaving overhang on both sides to cover fish.

3. Check the salmon for pin bones by running your finger across the fillet and trim any white sides.

4. Spread half of the grated beets (if using) and then half of the dill mixture across the cheesecloth, then place the fish on top skin side down. Spread the remaining beets and then dill mixture over the top of the fish, varying the amount according to the thickness of each section, and wrap cheesecloth around the fish to cover it completely.

5. Wrap the covered fish in plastic wrap, set some heavy cans on top and place it in the fridge to cure for 3-5 days (thinner filets need less curing time).

6. After 1 day of curing, drain any liquid off.

7. Once cured, remove the fish from the wrapping and rinse under cold water and wipe clean.

8. Thinly slice on a diagonal. Keeps in the fridge, covered, for 5 days or wrapped tightly in the freezer for 3 months.


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