Bagels with Pâte Fermentée

Recipe by Jeffrey Hamelman

These classic bagels get their chew from bread flour, and their flavor from an overnight starter. Our thanks to Master Baker, author, and teacher Jeffrey Hamelman for the recipe. Note: While we call for bread flour here, if all you have is unbleached all-purpose flour you can substitute it; see the details in "tips," below.

30 mins
14 to 18 mins
17 hrs 6 mins
12 large (4” to 5”) bagels
Bagels with Pâte Fermentée - select to zoom
Bagels with Pâte Fermentée - select to zoom
Bagels with Pâte Fermentée - select to zoom


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  1. To make the pâte fermentée: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix all of the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl and let rest at room temperature for about 14 hours.

  2. To make the dough: Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix and knead to make a supple, elastic, rather stiff dough. If you’re using a stand mixer, mix on low speed for 3 minutes to incorporate the ingredients, then on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough looks fairly well developed.

  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let it rest, covered, at warm room temperature (75°F to 78°F is ideal) for 2 hours. The dough should double in bulk, or at least expand considerably.

  4. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, about 115g each, and roll each piece into a blunt cylinder. Cover the pieces and let them rest and relax for 20 minutes.

  5. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal or semolina. Or line with parchment first, then sprinkle with cornmeal or semolina.

  6. To shape the bagels: Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it into an 8” log. Wrap the log around your hand, overlapping the ends slightly. With the ends underneath, work your hand back and forth across a clean work surface to seal the ends, forming a closed ring. Place the shaped bagel onto the prepared baking sheet.

  7. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

  8. Cover the bagels gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a reusable cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

  9. When you’re ready to make the bagels, start preheating your oven to 500°F.

  10. To boil the bagels: Choose a wide, shallow pot rather than a deep one, and measure out how much water you add to fill it full enough that the bagels can float. For each cup of water you use, add 1 teaspoon malt syrup or honey. Don’t be too much of a perfectionist here; it’s OK to round the amount of sweetener up or down.

  11. Bring the water to a gentle boil, and carefully add as many bagels as fit without crowding one another. Let the bagels boil for 1 minute; flip them over and boil for 1 minute more, then use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack set over a baking sheet to catch the drips.

  12. To finish and bake the bagels: If you want seeded bagels, spoon the seeds onto a clean work surface. Gently press one side of each bagel into the seeds. Or top the bagels with coarse sea salt. Return them to the baking sheet.

  13. Bake the bagels for 14 to 18 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

  14. Storage information: Store cooled bagels, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • To make bagel dough one day and bake bagels the next, let the undivided dough rise, covered, for 1 hour at warm room temperature, then refrigerate it overnight. Next day, gently deflate the dough, and divide, shape, boil, and bake bagels as directed above.

  • The method detailed above is just one of the effective ways to shape bagels. Interested in more? See our blog post, How to shape bagels.

  • Bread flour gives these bagels their signature chewiness. But if all you have in the house is unbleached all-purpose flour, feel free to use it. You'll want to use less water in both the pâte fermentée and the dough, to make up for all-purpose flour's lower protein content and lesser absorption. Reduce the water in the pâte fermentée by 1 tablespoon; and start by reducing the water in the dough by 1/4 cup (57g), adding some of the water back in if the dough seems too stiff.

  • Join master baker Jeffrey Hamelman as he demonstrates how to make Bagels with Pâte Fermentée from start to finish. Watch Episode 7 of the Isolation Baking Show now.


  • The maximum temperature rating for most parchment paper is below 500°F, and at temperatures between 450°F and 500°F parchment’s exposed edges begin to char. To be safe, keep a close eye on anything being cooked at temperatures above 450°F (especially anything on an upper rack). Burned edges can also be minimized by trimming away excess parchment before baking.