Recipe Review

I Tried the “Before-Bed” Bagel and It Almost Delivered a Good Bagel

published Feb 10, 2023
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Bacon, egg and cheese bagel on a plate.
Credit: Kristina Razon

Because I grew up on Long Island, New York, and have spent a portion of my adult life in Brooklyn, I never needed to make my own bagels. Good bagels were easy to come by and a fact that I took for granted whenever I moved away — to college in Delaware, then culinary school in Boston, and now in upstate New York where I currently reside. I’ve tried a bagel here and there and while they scratch that itch, they can’t compare to the bagels I grew up with. 

Enter: TikToker Kate Davidsun, with her video for a “before-bed” bagel. “It’s late and I’m tired but I can’t go to bed without making myself some breakfast for tomorrow. So I’m going to take 10 minutes to quickly make an asiago bagel,” says Davidsun. That simple introduction had me hooked, and before long I found myself in my kitchen — sporting my robe just like Davidsun — mixing up a bagel before bed. 

How to Make a “Before-Bed” Bagel

I appreciated Davidsun’s breezy, carefree approach to making a single bagel. However, when I was ready to make my own, I spent an inordinate amount of time watching, pausing, rewinding, and rewatching her make it so I could catch the amount of each ingredient and the overall process to ensure I did it right. 

According to Davidsun, you just need water, flour, yeast, and barley malt syrup. To start, I filled a measuring cup with two ounces of water and microwaved it until the water felt warm to the touch. In her video, Davidsun pulls out a jar of barley malt syrup, dips a spoon in, and says to add “like I don’t know, however much this is, just a little bit.” I ended up stirring in one teaspoon of the syrup (a guesstimate on my end), then I sprinkled a quarter teaspoon of active dry yeast over the top. Once I was sure the yeast was alive, I added a half cup of bread flour and some freshly grated asiago cheese. I mixed it up with a spoon and scraped the dough onto my kitchen counter.  

I worked the dough into a smooth ball, adding a sprinkle of flour every so often to ward off stickiness, then rolled it into a long rope, which I wrapped around my hand to form a bagel. I placed it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, covered it with plastic wrap followed by a clean kitchen towel, and kissed it goodnight before placing it in my refrigerator. 

The next morning, I filled a pot with water, brought it to a boil, and added a spoonful of barley malt syrup. I uncovered my bagel and gently pried it from the parchment paper. I boiled my bagel for two minutes, flipping it halfway through, then placed it back on the parchment-lined baking sheet. I liberally grated asiago cheese all over it and slipped the bagel into a 410ºF oven for 20 minutes until golden-brown. 

Credit: Kristina Razon

My Honest Review of the “Before-Bed” Bagel 

I ate half of the bagel smeared with plain cream cheese and the other half spread with cream cheese and topped with crispy bacon, melty cheese, and an over-easy egg, just like Davidsun does in her video (minus the latte with the bear foam art). The bagel itself had a fine, tight crumb with a chewy texture but it lacked that shiny, crisp exterior as well as salt. I guess the addition of asiago cheese in the dough was supposed to provide that salty kick, but it wasn’t enough. 

Have I found the bagel that will satisfy my cravings? Not quite, but it scratched that itch. I’m sure with some experimentation on my end, I’ll perfect my “before-bed” bagel before long.

If You’re Making a “Before-Bed” Bagel, a Few Tips 

  • Jot down the amount of each ingredient. Davidsun wings it in her video but she clearly has done this many times so she knows how much of each ingredient to add. The key to success when making it the first time is to remove the guesswork and decide how much of each ingredient you’ll be using. 
  • Don’t be shy about adding salt and other flavorings. To boost the flavor, go ahead and add in a half teaspoon of kosher salt, along with any other flavorings you want — in the dough or on top — like toasted sesame seeds, ground cinnamon, or everything bagel seasoning. 
  • Coat the parchment paper with cooking spray. The bagel stuck much more to the paper than I would have liked, so I recommend coating it with cooking spray first. 
  • Bake at a higher oven temperature. Try cranking the temperature up to 450ºF to get a more burnished exterior on your bagel. 

    Get the recipe: “Before-Bed” Bagel