Going to Elijah’s felt like a visit to my grandparents’ house, where everything was friendly and familiar, and you got your food exactly how you liked it (but with a little extra butter and cream).

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How to Host a (Homemade) Bagel Brunch

How to Host a (Homemade) Bagel Brunch

Elijah’s Deli welcomed me with open Jewish grandma arms the first time my parents dropped me off in San Diego to start college as a freshman. And visit after visit, we always seemed to end up there for lunch or brunch. Nestled in an inconspicuous mall in La Jolla, it was the sort of place you stumble into, so to speak, and then are convinced is some secret jewel you and only you know about. I felt that way about Elijah’s for years. Like “Lemme tell you about this place…” Now I’m gonna make you do some Internet research to find it.

How to Host a (Homemade) Bagel Brunch

Back then, you would have never pegged me ‘a foodie.’ I ordered exactly the same thing from Elijah’s menu: a poppy seed bagel with lox, and always a side of their barrel of pickles. Lest they left the barrel off the table (it was, indeed, a barrel), my dad or I would kindly remind the waiter that the pickles were the highlight of our show. Little did they know it would surely be emptied before we’d leave.

How to Host a (Homemade) Bagel Brunch

Going to Elijah’s felt like a visit to my grandparents’ house, where everything was friendly and familiar, and you got your food exactly how you liked it (but with a little extra butter and cream). There was plenty of spacious polyurethane-covered seating inside, as well as metal chairs and umbrella-covered tables outside for the choosing. Plain and simple: Elijah’s felt like home. Those bagels felt like home. Or at least every nostalgic East Coast-filled memory of childhood I held near and dear to my heart as a college freshman.

How to Host a (Homemade) Bagel Brunch

I’ve never been picky about my bagels: I’ve eaten them all. From New York delis to school cafeterias, my bagel preference has always been forgiving, to say the least. But somewhere between those regular visits to Elijah’s and settling into San Francisco where bagels (let’s be honest) aren’t really ‘a thing,’ my bagel habit abruptly ended. I’d eat a bagel on rare occasions that warranted such a treat: business trips to New York.

How to Host a (Homemade) Bagel Brunch

Truthfully, I’d never considered making homemade bagels: they felt like so much work, and given my neutrality toward really good bagels, I wondered if they’d be worth the time. Do you see where I’m headed here? Thing is, making bagels from scratch, at home, is SO WORTH IT, regardless of where you live. And having a bagel brunch involves very little else (Bloody Mary’s are optional). Most of the ‘work’ happens in stages, and the bagels themselves rise overnight. There’s a two-step process for boiling and then baking them, but otherwise, they’re pretty straightforward. The best part is you can top them with virtually anything you like: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salt.

So there you have it folks. Go and make yourselves some bagels, will ya?

How to Host a (Homemade) Bagel Brunch

Homemade Bagels
adapted from Peter Reinhart, via Food52

*makes about 6 large bagels

3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons of coarse kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon of instant yeast
1 tablespoon of honey or barley malt syrup
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of room temperature water
1 teaspoon of baking soda
poppy seeds, sesame seeds (black and white), caraway seeds, and flaky sea salt, for topping

1. Add the flour, 2 teaspoons of the salt, yeast, honey, and water to a large bowl and use a large wooden spoon and/or your hands to mix until a stiff dough forms. Add a little more water, if necessary.
2. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then transfer it to a floured surface and knead for about 3 minutes (or until it’s smooth). You can also knead it using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
4. Oil a large bowl and place your ball of dough into it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease it. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it into 6 pieces. Roll the dough pieces into balls and then into approximately 10-inch logs. Pinch the ends.
6. Wrap a dough log around your knuckle and squeeze/roll the ends together until the binding feels secure. Repeat with each log, then place the bagels on the parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. At this stage, place the bagels into the refrigerator and let them proof overnight
7. An hour before baking, remove the bagels from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature. Fill a large Dutch oven with at least 4 inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil, then add 1 teaspoon of salt and baking powder. Dial down the heat to a simmer and preheat your oven to 500 degrees F.
8. Float test your bagels: fill a bowl with cold water and drop one of your bagels in. If it floats, you can proceed to the next step. If not, let sit for another 15-20 minutes.
9. Working in batches, drop the bagels into the water and let cook for 1 minute, then flip and cook for another 30 seconds before returning to the baking sheet.
10. Sprinkle bagels with toppings of your choice, then place them in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 450 degrees F. Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes more, or until the bagels are golden.
11. Remove the bagels from the oven and wait approximately 30 minutes before eating.

How to Host a (Homemade) Bagel Brunch

For the bagel brunch menu:

Print this recipe

Posted by Kasey

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Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • Kelsey

    Well we just so happen to be having people over for bagels this sunday- timely!! We’re going to try a new bagel deli in Denver for take out this time, but I’ll be trying homemade soon!

  • http://londonbakes.blogspot.com Kathryn

    We used to (very occasionally) have bagel breakfasts at work – with plastic-y supermarket bagels of course – and they were such fun. This is such a great party idea though and I’m pretty sure your bagels are about a million times better than the ones we had at work!

  • Steph

    Kase: go to Izzy’s on California Ave. in Palo Alto the next time you’re down that way. It is super New York Jewish, and so delicious (in my opinion- P claims it’s overrated :-). In the meantime, we’re going to track down this Elijah’s place- sounds awesome! And then make our own, of course.

  • http://www.aidamollenkamp.com Aida Mollenkamp

    These bagels look phenomenal! I’m trying this recipe soon. Thanks, Kasey!

  • http://www.yummysupper.blogspot.com/ erin @ yummysupper

    Kasey! Your homemade bagels look badass! I gotta say, I rarely feel deprived being GF, but I do miss a good bagel… with lox and cream cheese. Yum!
    xoxoxo E

  • http://www.kitchenkonfidence.com Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

    Your bagels are pure perfection! The bagel breakfast is one of my faaaaavs. Especially with smoked salmon and all the fixins. I like to throw some homemade flavored cream cheeses into the mix.

  • Heather Christo

    Homemade bagels are a true thing of beauty. And I am not sure there is anything better than a toasted poppy seed bagel with cream cheese and lox! Now I am just dying for one….

  • Katie

    We made bagels when I was a kid, but haven’t tried them since. Now I will. Thanks Kasey.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    That’s so cool! We never made bagels from scratch growing up. I can’t say I’m making them every weekend, but they are super fun (and easy!).

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Heather. And I couldn’t agree more! x

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Brandon! Mmm I love the idea of homemade flavored cream cheeses! I’ll try that next time.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, E! I wonder if you could made GF bagels??

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Aida! I highly recommend it. x

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks for the suggestion, Steph! If/ when I’m ever in PA, I will def. check it out!! I can’t speak for Elijah’s now (after all, it’s been over 10 years!!) but maybe they’re still just as awesome :)

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    You know, there’s something to be said for supermarket bagels. Sometimes they, too, can hit the spot! x

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Try it once when you don’t have people over, and then you’ll be convinced it’s actually not that stressful :) Have a great brunch!!

  • Kate Ramos

    Those are some straight-up gorgeous bagels. They are really ‘a thing’ here in North Dakota either, so I’ll be making these soon!

  • http://cookieandkate.com/ Cookie and Kate

    Worth it! I believe you. I’m always intimidated by multi-step baking processes but those bagels look mighty tasty. Love your bagel brunch tips. Too bad my regular brunch companions are gluten free! More bagels for me. :)

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Kate!!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    High five to carbs. That is all :)


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