Something I have learned over the past several years of blogging is that one of the biggest hang ups people have in the kitchen is the potential for failure.  It seems often people are afraid to even try a recipe or to experiment in any way due to the possibility that things won’t turn out quite as they had hoped.  I’ve never fully understood this, but I think it’s a personality thing with me.  Sure, I dislike a kitchen failure as much as anyone, but rather than feeling defeated by it, I view it as a challenge.  I will find a way to make this work, and hopefully work well.  It’s just the way I am.  (This sometimes causes me to tweak a recipe three or four times before I am satisfied, so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword.)

I have been wanting to make blueberry bagels for quite some time but I wasn’t really sure what would yield the best results.  Mostly I was unsure of the best form of blueberry to use.  I generally don’t do a lot with dried fruit because I prefer fresh, but I also knew that folding fresh berries into a bagel dough had potential for disaster.  Frozen berries might hold together better but would they make the dough so cold it wouldn’t rise well?  I pondered all the possibilities for quite some time and then I figured that the only way to really know what might work was to just try it already.

Eventually after all this pondering, I narrowed my experiments down to two methods: dried blueberries and fresh blueberries that I froze for a few hours until firm.  Well, as you can see above, there was a clear winner.  The dough with the frozen (fresh) berries was a giant gloppy mess and only became worse with my attempts to salvage it.  However, the dried blueberries behaved themselves and actually made for a very tasty bagel in the end.  The moral of the story?  Do not be afraid of kitchen failures!  You can learn something from each one, no matter how frustrating they may be.

*Note – New to homemade bagel making?  It’s easy, I promise!  Check out this post with step-by-step photos to walk you through the process. 


For the sponge:
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 ½ cups (20 ounces) water, at room temperature

For the dough:
½ teaspoon (.055 ounces) instant yeast
3 ¾ cups (17 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
5 tbsp. sugar
2 ¾ teaspoons (.7 ounce) salt
2 teaspoons (.33 ounce) malt powder OR 1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar
2 cups dried blueberries, rinsed to remove surface sugar, acid and wild yeast

To finish:
1 tablespoon baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting


  • 01

    To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl.  Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter).  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly.  It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

  • 02

    To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir.  Then add 3 cups of the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.  In the last couple minutes of mixing, add the blueberries.  You may need to add a bit more flour at this point, due to any extra moisture that was added with the blueberries.

  • 03

    Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine).  The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth.  There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated.  The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81˚ F.  If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading.  If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achiever the stiffness required.  The kneaded dough should feels satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

  • 04

    Immediately divide the dough into equal sized, 4 ½-ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls.  Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.  Line two sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil.  Proceed with shaping the bagels by pushing a hole through the center and stretching out the hole to 2 ½ inches in diameter.  Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pan.  Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

  • 05

    Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”.  Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water.  The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water.  Take one bagel and test it.  If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days).  If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats.  The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

  • 06

    The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500° F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda.  Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

  • 07

    Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds).  After 1 minute flip them over and boil another minute.  If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side.  While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-line sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour.  (If you decided to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.)

  • 08

    When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven.  Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation.  (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.)  After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450° F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown.  Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.


  • Bianca @ Sweet Dreaming

    Those look perfect! Trying to make homemade bagels is on my baking bucket list :)

  • This look absolutely fabulous! I like bagels any time of day!

  • RikiTikiTembo

    ohh I can just smell them! I would so go one of these with a Cappuchino :)

  • Great post! I did the same “trial and error” when experimenting with blueberry bagels. I once forgot to rinse the dried blueberries, which did affect how the bagels turned out. :-) Cranberry walnut is next on my list to try!

  • Justeen @ Blissful Baking

    Wow, your blueberry bagels look perfect! I tend to shy away from complicated or unfamiliar recipes/techniques because I hate wasting ingredients if it doesn’t turn out. I guess that’s still why I haven’t tried making bagels at home yet. But I like your attitude! I WILL make these sometime soon, though. They are the perfect summer bagel.

  • jaclynscookies

    I’ve never made bagels before, but I think I might just need to give these a try!

  • Ah I have been planning on making one of my friends blueberry bagels for her birthday! They are her absolute favourite. Thanks for the tips!

    I remember one time I made scones with frozen blueberries…what a disaster that was. The dough was just how you described. They were delicious, just not pretty :) Here’s for trial and error!

  • Making bagels have been on my list to make for the longest time!!! I should just get in the kitchen and give it a shot! (:

  • Emily

    Is it best to retard the dough and let the bagels sit in the refrigerator overnight or can you just continue forward with the recipe all in one go?

  • Oh yum! This sounds like the perfect thing to make this weekend!

  • I’m with you–I really don’t understand why people are so scared to try new things in the kitchen. If it fails, it fails and you move on and try again. These bagels look great!

  • I adore blueberry bagels! I love how you tested the best way to make them – thanks! ;) I can’t wait to try them.

  • stacy

    My family would love these. I made your original bagel recipe and it was so easy and then so gratifying that they turned out so wonderfully. I didn’t even have to toast them they were that good!

  • annieseats

    You need to do the retardation step.

  • These look wonderful Annie. I definitely want to try making homemade bagels, but I have to say, we have different definitions of “easy”!!! ;)

  • annieseats

    Sorry, that sent before I was finished. The retardation step helps develop the flavor that you typically expect from a bagel. To me at least, any bagel recipe that doesn’t include that step isn’t truly a bagel. Enjoy!

  • MaryBeth

    My husband loves blueberry bagels, he would be so excited and thrilled to find out that I made him some from scratch.

  • Sstiehm

    I have to say- I get afraid to try things. But for me- I think it is a matter of I hate to waste ingredients and TIME which you don’t get back if the recipe turns out a wreck. That is why I love food blogs- they vett the recipe for me! These look beautiful and thanks to you, I do not fear making them- I can’t wait to try!! YUM!!!!

  • The hungry housewife

    Good to kno to stay clear of the fresh blueberries for this recipe.mthese look scrumptious

  • Oh, i sure love blueberry bagels! since there are blueberries in them, i can eat these without any cream cheese. hehe

  • Meredith

    This post has inspired me to try your bagels again! Our first attempt was a semi-fail. They tasted delicious but they were kind of flat and didn’t puff up nicely like yours. I read your FAQs and did some other research but haven’t found a good answer. Any ideas why the dough seemed to flatten/widen instead of rise?

  • Heidi

    Annie… Which section of your grocery store did you find dried blueberries in? Would they be by raisins and things like that? Also, you mentioned kneading the dough or using the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer. Which method did you use for this recipe? Thanks!
    p.s. Just made your perfect pizza crust and to be honest, I will not be “buying” pizza from a chain again anytime soon. It was FANTASTIC!

  • Jessie Crow

    I love homemade bagels. After too many trips to Panera for Everything bagels in the course of a month, I started making my own…but haven’t done it in a long time. Thanks for inspiring me to pick it back up.

  • Failure is a big deterrent to experimentation – I can attest to that. But I’m getting better at throwing caution to the wind and just Doing It! And dang does it feel so good when it’s a home run.

  • Myfudo

    Bring out the berries…I love Spring. Yummy Bagels!

  • Zee

    wow this looks amazing!

  • These look amazing! I’ve never attempted home made bagels before but I am going to try this weekend! Thanks for the post.

  • How funny, I made and posted blueberry oatmeal bagels on Monday. I also tend to prefer fresh fruit but using the dried definitely made things easier. I am surprised the frozen berries didn’t hold up. Good to know though because I was going to try that!

  • Wow! Homemade bagels? You’re amazing. I am still working on getting my bread technique down… but when I do… this is on my list of things to get done.

  • Goodness, it’s hard to believe homemade bagels are easy. Boy are you right! They’re intimidating. I think often “we” don’t want to make things for fear of messing up because then you have to either eat something terrible or watch all those lovely ingredients go in the trash. Or, we can just get fantastic advice from someone like you. I’m going to go with the later choice! Thanks.

  • annieseats

    I would guess maybe they weren’t quite ready to be put in the refrigerator (did you do the float test?) or possibly just an issue with shaping. It’s hard to say.

  • I love this post…both because of the encouraging words and the delicious recipe. I have never made homemade bagels, but there is always a 1st time for everything. I cannot wait!

  • annieseats

    In mine they are with the dried fruit. I usually knead bagel dough by hand. Enjoy!

  • Like you I´m not afraid of failure, but I am a perfectionist, and would like to have a perfect result every time. Of course this is impossible, especially when it comes to trying new things, which makes me spend an awful lot of time finding THE perfect recipe, with the best ingredients for a close to perfect result! I know bagels have been on my things-to-try-list for quite some time -Maybe I should just try it out already! ;) (Which also gives me a reason to testing dried bluberries!)

  • jennifer

    i plan on attempting bagekl making now, thanks for the recipes :)
    just curious have you made cream cheese yet to go with the bagels?

  • I am so glad you did all the experimenting for us! These look SO yummy :)

  • Laura M.

    I just tried this method using chocolate chips instead of blueberries. (This was per my husband’s request. Blueberries are next on my list. And I’ve already made some plain ones.) I wasn’t sure how they would turn out, but they are great! A tiny bit messier to make due to melting chocolate, but well worth it. I’m a total homemade-bagel convert and I’m certain that I’ll never purchase bagels ever again!

  • Michele

    I’d love to make these but need to purchase the malt. I looked at my local grocer and Whole Foods but couldn’t find any. I’m going to order it from King Arthur but want to make sure I’m getting the right one. Do you use diastatic or non-diastatic malt? Thanks!

  • annieseats

    I just use the brown sugar.

  • Bethnoelle84

    They look delish! I love fresh blueberries in anything, if you toss them in some flour before adding to the dough, they retain their shape and will not bleed. I haven’t tried dried in baking, sounds good!

  • annieseats

    Bagel dough is far too dense for them to be adequately mixed in but not crushed. That’s why the dried here :)

  • Katie

    What is the function of the malt? Is there any substitutes for it?

  • annieseats

    There are substitutes listed in that line of the ingredients.

  • midumont

    I have a question about the “sponge” in this recipe. When I make it with 4c of flour and 2.5c water as directed, I end up with a soft, sticky dough ball, no where near the consistency of pancake batter. I have needed to add water in the dough making step every time I have made these. I am wondering, are the proportions listed correctly? Otherwise, fantastic recipe, my whole family loves these! I make them with sweet red cherries instead of blueberries frequently, they are wonderful with a smear of cream cheese!

  • annieseats

    Are you measuring the flour by weight or by volume?

  • midumont

    I have measured by volume. I’ll try weight next time, if it makes a difference!

  • annieseats

    I think that might help. Let me know!

  • midumont

    I’ll give it a shot, I’ve never baked by weight before, new use for my food scale, woot!

  • Abigail mc abby