Delicious Gluten Free Bagels… An Oxymoron?

ready to eat 625 sq 2I consider myself to be something of a bagel aficionado. Partly because I have eaten my fair share (and perhaps several others fair shares as well) over my life span, and partly because I have baked hundreds of bagels myself, after learning the craft when I participated in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.

I will not delve into the hotly contested debate of New York vs. Montreal style bagels, because really, that argument is laden with trash talking and never ends well. For those not familiar with the difference between the two styles, a little bagel primer here.

Montreal bagels are thin, a little sweet and quite chewy. They are boiled and then baked in a wood fired oven. They are really only good within the first few hours of being baked. After that, they get quite tough and leathery. New York bagels are bigger, doughier and fluffier than Montreal style bagels. They are also boiled first and then baked, but not usually in a wood fired oven.

montreal bagels labellednyc bagel labelledOne’s bagel preference is imprinted on them early in childhood and it’s extremely tough to shake it.   Personally, I do not care for either Montreal or New York bagels. I grew up in Toronto, and for me, bagel bliss is a Bagel World Twister. Weighing in at 8 ounces, these behemoths are chewy in the center and heavily seeded with poppy to create an extreme crunch on the outside. Twisters are spiralled by hand; the dough is literally twisted before the loop is closed to form the bagel. The result is that the baked bagels tear apart in beautiful little sections. All the better to slather on salted butter.twister 625Bagel World realized that it is a hazard to your health to eat twisters on a regular basis, so they created Twister flagels (flat bagels). I do not care for them quite as much as a regular twister since the chewy middle part has all but been eliminated. Sadly, I no longer live in Toronto and here in Ottawa bagels are made in the Montreal style. Blech!

I’ll be so bold as to bring a different species of bagel into this discussion: The Gluten-Free Bagel. Are delicious gluten-free bagels possible, or is that an oxymoron? Up until about 5 years ago, I would have said that gluten-free bagels should not even be allowed in the same conversation as regular bagels. We put out youngest son on a gluten free diet about 12 years ago, and one of the hardest things for him to give up were bagels. I tried buying commercially made gluten-free bagels and truthfully, they were awful. The vast majority of them were made from a combination of rice flour and tapioca starch. The texture was quite gluey.

Then, a friend of mine, who suffers from Celiac disease, gave me a recipe for gluten-free bagels that he discovered in the magazine “Living Without.” I was sceptical, but when I read the list of ingredients, I was intrigued. These bagels incorporate 6 different types of flour (Garbanzo-fava bean flour, brown rice flour, arrowroot flour, potato starch, tapioca flour and amaranth flour) to create a multi-grain flour blend.  In addition, the recipe also calls for flax meal (ground up flax seeds). All these ingredients combine together to create a bagel with some heft and chew. I will be honest and tell you that they are best toasted, but if you are unable to have gluten, these really are a delicious substitute.

I make them regularly for my son and decided to blog about it, since gluten-free diets seem to be gaining in popularity. Today I made a batch of seeded (poppy and sesame) and a second batch of cheddar jalapeno gluten-free bagels. The dough for regular flour bagels needs to spend a night or even two in the fridge to allow the gluten and flavours to develop. Since these are gluten-free, they can be made quite quickly.

This is quite a sticky dough, so it is best made in a stand mixer. Start out with the paddle attachment and then switch to the dough hook after several minutes of mixing. A plastic pastry scraper will make it easier to get the dough out of the bowl and a metal bench scraper makes portioning the dough easier.essentials labelled

jamie's bagel mixadding liquidcutting dough with bench scraperrolling balls of dough 2making the holestretching dough boiling bagelsThe seeds are sprinkled on after boiling and before baking.seeded bagels ready for ovenFor the cheddar jalapeño bagels, I mixed in some shredded cheddar and finely diced pickled jalapeño peppers. After 10 minutes in the oven, they get topped with some additional cheddar, for the the last 10 minutes of baking.

adding cheese topping after 10 minutes of bakingcheddar jalapeno bagels done

bagels in wooden dough bowlClick here to print recipe for Gluten-Free Seeded Bagels.

Click here to print recipe for Gluten Free Cheddar Jalapeno Bagels.with cream cheese and jam

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11 thoughts on “Delicious Gluten Free Bagels… An Oxymoron?

  1. faith feingold

    You made me so hungry! You are a wonderful writer, cook, baker, photographer, And amazing sister xoxo vitti

  2. themondaybox

    These look delicious ( as your recipes always do) and I am forwarding the recipe to my niece who is required for health reasons to be glutton free. (She is an accomplished cook and baker but doesn’t know much about bagels having grown up in the south of the US, not exactly prime bagel territory.) I am not sure which is more amazing: 1. The dietary answers to health issues that are often outside the interest or knowledge of standard medicine or 2. The extremes to which we, as parents, are willing to go, to find and carry out answers to issues that are often outside the interest or knowledge of standard medicine. My niece suffered from many symptoms for years before finding relief by eliminating glutton. My own daughter has a metabolic condition that we find is greatly helped by drastically reducing carbohydrates. Its a journey. 🙂

  3. saltandserenity Post author

    Thanks Wendy. I agree with you on both those points you made. We put our son on a gluten and casein (dairy) free diet about 12 years ago. He is mildly autistic. We believe that it made a difference in his ability to focus and concentrate as well as improving his interest in interacting with the world around him. They were not dramatic changes, but enough to make us believe that it was right for him, even though current mainstream medical studies do not support this theory.
    If your niece does not have any childhood bagel references, she will probably love these bagels!

  4. Pingback: {The Recipe Redux} Pretzel Bagels with Chia, Sesame & Sunflower Seed | Yeah…imma eat that.

    1. saltandserenity Post author

      Hi Manuela, so happy to hear that the GF bagels worked out for you. I know that they are quite a revelation after tasting store bought GF bagels. So glad I could introduce you to them! Thanks for leaving a comment.

  5. Elaine

    Having recently been diagnosed with Celiac, and being an enthusiastic home baker, I’ve been on a mission to find decent bread recipes. For a couple weeks now I’ve been craving a good bagel. I’ll be trying this one out soon. thanks!!

  6. Yager Entres

    Leaving open the possibility that I didn’t properly follow all directions (although I’m generally pretty exact when following recipes) these turned out pretty poorly. Assembling all the ingredients, preparing the flour mix, etc etc for bagels that collapsed almost immediately out of the oven, gummy texture and odd flavor simply wasn’t worth the effort. I made bagels yesterday using Pamela’s bread mix – super easy and the results were multiples better. They tasted like . . . bread.

    1. saltandserenity Post author

      So sorry they did not turn out for you Yager. I appreciate your taking the time to let me know. Not sure what went wrong and why they would collapse after baking. I am glad you found a substitute. I will have to check out Pamela’s bread mix. I have never heard of it.


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