During the pandemic, with more time at home and in the kitchen, my 17-year-old-son Martin has really gotten into baking bread. He’s grown up in a house where I regularly baked yeast bread and sourdough baguettes as well as quick breads, so it has been good to see his interest grow, not to mention receiving the benefits of his new hobby. It feels like a reward for all the time I included the kids in the kitchen – Martin and his two siblings – while I was baking or making meals. I’d set them up in the learning tower in the kitchen and give them a food preparation task. Things took longer, and required oversight and constant attention, but Martin’s delicious baked goods these days are evidence that it was well worth it.

Right now, home kitchens are popular spots. With more time at home, and perhaps a greater concern for good nutrition and staying healthy, lots of us are cooking, and baking, more than ever. In the pandemic’s early days, flour was as hard to find as toilet paper and hand sanitizer. And people are having such fun baking, some are making extra to sell. I’ve seen signs and tables at the end of driveways with baked goods for sale, and a friend of my daughter’s, a college student who is at home doing online classes this semester, has been baking, selling and delivering scones around town. It is hopeful to see the opportunities and learning that are coming out of this time of crisis.

A few months ago, Martin mentioned wanting to make bagels. I had not made bagels in a long time, and though I had a recipe that I recall worked well, I looked around online for another and happened to find one called “Martin’s Bagels”! Apparently, the head baker at King Arthur Flour is also named Martin. It was a no brainer – my good experiences with King Arthur’s recipes, coupled with the name of this recipe, meant that clearly this was the bagel recipe for my Martin to try out!

Martin Horne removes the bagels from their boiling water dunk. Photo by Angela King-Horne

Martin has always had a meticulous personality, so I can see how baking – with its precise measurements and specific instructions – attracts him more than other kinds of cooking. Seven months into this pandemic, he has now made batches of bagels numerous times.

Making bagels is definitely a time commitment; the poolish (a bread-baking pre-ferment) alone needs up to eight hours to rest – the longer it rests, the better the flavor – and there are still steps to shape and boil the bagels. But I think, if you are going to take on making bagels, it is worth giving it the time. These bagels have the taste and texture of those at a good New York City bagel shop. Time, attention and effort will reap you the reward of these delicious Martin’s Bagels, too.  — ANGELA KING-HORNE, Pownal

The finished bagels cool on the counter, presumably awaiting cream cheese. Photo by Angela King-Horne

Martin’s Bagels


Recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour.

Yields 12 bagels

1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon yeast
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons warm water

1 ½ cups warm water
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon yeast

2 tablespoons barley malt syrup or brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt

Sesame seeds, coarse salt, dehydrated onion, poppy seeds


To make the poolish: In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and yeast, add the water and mix to smooth. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 2 to 8 hours. Remember – more time yields more flavor!

To make the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the poolish with the water, mix by hand to break up the poolish; add the flour, salt and yeast, and stir by hand until dough forms a cohesive, shaggy mass. Resist the urge to add more flour.

Place the dough in a bowl, cover and let rest for 2 hours; stretch and fold dough over into itself 3 or 4 times in the bowl after the first hour. Then without touching dough again after the second hour, place the bowl in refrigerator overnight, for 8-12 hours.

The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it stand for 2 hours at room temperature; divide the dough into 12 pieces; shape each into a ball and place on floured surface to rest for 15-30 minutes; use a finger to poke a hole in middle of each ball, and expand the hole to 2-3 inches in diameter. Return the formed bagels to the floured surface, let rest for another 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, place a baking stone on the middle rack.

Place 4 inches of water in a shallow pan or pot, add barley syrup or sugar, bring to boil; place 3 bagels at a time in the water, boil 30 seconds on 1 side, flip over and boil 60-90 seconds on other side; drip dry, put on parchment paper and sprinkle any toppings you like on the bagels. Place the parchment on the stone in the oven. Bake until brown and firm, 20-25 minutes.

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