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How to Shape Bagels

ARTICLE BY: CECE KIRKWOOD. THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS.

So you’ve stumbled upon one of my bagel recipes (Yeast-Based or Sourdough) but you are wondering, how to shape bagels properly? Personally, I prefer a bagel that is more bread than a big center hole, but you can definitely customize your bagel shape however you like. But of course, it is important to remember that the more bagel you have… the more schmear you can enjoy. 

Why is bagel shaping so important?

At the end of the day, as long as your bagels taste great and have that fluffy crumb we all want, the shape of your bagel doesn’t really matter. BUT what you don’t want is an overworked or over proofed bagel or one that falls apart when you boil the bagel. This is where the importance of a well-shaped bagel comes into play. 

Bagel shaping has two main stages…

Pre-shaped Rounds

So you’ve mixed the dough and it has gone through its first set of rising and resting. You’ll want to dump your dough onto a floured surface and divide evenly. To do this, I like to use a bench scraper and scale to ensure the most evenly sized bagels as possible. 

Take one dough mound and press down on it lightly with your fingertips so it lays flat like a fluffy rectangle. 

Grab the top of your rectangle dough, and pull up and fold down to the middle of the dough. Press down using your fingers to seal it to the dough.

Next, grab the outside edges of your folded dough, pull outwards and fold it onto itself. Sealing again with your fingers.

Repeat the same movement with the middle section of dough, sealing it to itself.

Then, grabbing the bottom edge of the rectangle, pull out towards you, fold over and begin rolling up the dough into a tight ball.

Now all that’s left is to tighten your ball and create tension by pulling the outer edges underneath the dough ball. You use your hands, use your workbench or roll the dough thoroughly to do this.

They will look a little like dumpling balls here at this stage. Leave these dough dumpling balls to rest for 30 minutes or however long your recipe calls for. 

Bagel Poke Method 

After this rest, take the dough ball and using your thumb, punch a hole through the center of the dough ball. Work your fingers around the inner edge of the bagel and seal any slightly torn pieces of dough to itself.

Place the dough ball on your workbench and twirl the bagel around your pointer and middle fingers to increase the size of the hole. 

If you’d like to have a bigger center hole, be sure to stretch the bagel sides a bit more here in this stage. The bagel dough hole will shrink during the boil & bake stage so you will need to make the center hole a little larger than you think! 

At this point, your bagels are ready for their final fermentation period either at room temperature or combined with an overnight rise in the fridge. Then boil, bake and enjoy!

Now that you’ve learned how to shape bagels, are you looking for bagel recipes too?

Baking By Cece is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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