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. 

  • Yield about 14 bagels


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.