top of page
  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Za'atar Bagels #CooktheBooks #FoodieReads

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

The June-July selection for our online Cook the Books group is Food Americana: The Remarkable People and Incredible Stories behind America’s Favorite Dishes by David Page. You can read the announcement by Simona of Briciole. So, if you care to join us, you have quite a bit of time; posts aren't due till the end of July.

I have already shared America On a Bun: Connecticut-Style Lobster Rolls. You can read my thoughts on the book there.

For this post, I was inspired by Page's discussion of Russ & Daughters in New York. They are "Not just any bagel. Russ & Daughters makes their own, two-hundred-dozen a day, triple that on holidays, each bagel hand-rolled, boiled, and baked in the traditional way, on burlap-covered wooden planks in a rotating deck oven with six deep shelves. Some first-time customers order those bagels with cream cheese alone, no fish, a kind of gateway shmear."

Marvin Lender, of Lender's Bagels, said, "'To take a Jewish product and introduce it to the non-Jewish world takes a lot of creativity, a lot of money.... We were advertising when we didn’t have a penny. We borrowed money to do it, but it was the only way we could introduce the product to a segment of the population that didn’t even know what a bagel was'."

Once I got the hang of bagels, I make them about every other week. I've made them with poppy seeds, with salt, with dried cranberries, and more. But the bagel I'm sharing today is my Za'atar-Dusted Bagel.

Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture that I always have on hand. It's a breeze to make and adds something fabulous to olive oil for dipping and - I've just discovered - as a spice rub on any kind of meat! My za'atar recipe makes about 5 tablespoons. If you have any leftover (you will), keep it in a sealed jar for future use.


makes 8 bagels


  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

  • 1 Tablespoon organic granulated sugar

  • 1-1/4 cup warm water plus more as needed

  • 3-1/4 cups flour plus more for kneading

  • 1 teaspoon salt (I used the Tung Fu Salt from Big Sur Salts that has passion fruit wild salt, toasted coconut, lemongrass, Birdseye Thai chili, lime)

  • za'atar, as needed


  • 2 Tablespoons fresh herbs, pulled off the stem and minced (I used thyme and oregano)

  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (I used black and white sesame seeds)

  • 1 Tablespoon ground sumac

  • 1/2 teaspoon flake salt

Za'atar In batches, blend and crush the spices with a mortar and pestle. Leave some sesame seeds whole, if you wish. Bagels

Pour 1/2 cup warm water in a medium mixing bowl. Add in the sugar and the yeast. Let bloom for 5 to 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Form a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Add another 1/2 cup warm water to the well also. Use a wooden spoon to combine to form a stiff dough. You may need another 1/4 water if the dough is too stiff.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop. Knead the dough until it is smooth an elastic, approximately 10 minutes.

Oil a large mixing bowl and place the dough inside, rolling it over so that every surface of your ball is covered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, then let it rest for another 10 minutes.

After the dough has rested for a second time, divide the dough into 8 pieces. I am not that precise, so they are uneven. But you can weigh them if you wish.

Roll the dough into a ball. Press your thumb into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Gently stretch the ring to about a third of the diameter of the bagel. Place the bagel on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with all the dough until you have eight bagels.

After shaping the dough let them rest while you bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the water has come to a rolling boil, lower the bagels into the water. Don't crowd them; I usually do four at a time. Boil the bagels for 2 minutes before flipping them over and boiling them for another 2 minutes.

Place them back on the baking sheet and sprinkle them with whatever topping you desire. I used my homemade za'atar for this batch. Put the tray in the oven until the bagels are golden brown, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for more Food Americana-inspired recipes. I will be sharing more soon. I am also linking this to our online #FoodieReads group. Here are the other readers' books for June.

33 views6 comments

Recent Posts

See All

6 Σχόλια

Άγνωστο μέλος
05 Αυγ 2023

I love Za'atar spice!

Debra Eliot's Eats

Μου αρέσει
Camilla M. Mann
Camilla M. Mann
28 Αυγ 2023
Απάντηση σε

Me, too! It's a favorite in our kitchen and I always have a jar on hand.

Μου αρέσει

Simona Carini
Simona Carini
01 Αυγ 2023

I love za'atar: once you have it, you find ways of using it. It adds such a lovely flavor! Great job with the bagels. Also, that Tung Fu salt you mention sounds intriguing. Thank you for another contribution to this edition of Cook the Books :)

Μου αρέσει
Camilla M. Mann
Camilla M. Mann
28 Αυγ 2023
Απάντηση σε

Yes, we love Za'atar!

Μου αρέσει

Wendy Klik
Wendy Klik
12 Ιουν 2023

Two great choices Cam.

Μου αρέσει
Camilla M. Mann
Camilla M. Mann
28 Αυγ 2023
Απάντηση σε

Thanks, Wendy.

Μου αρέσει
bottom of page