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Bagels from The Bread Baker's Apprentice

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Tuirgin's picture
Tuirgin

Bagels from The Bread Baker's Apprentice

 Plain, Asiago, Everything, and Rosa al Bianco


Back in March my wife sent me to a food blog to read about the "Best Pizza Dough Ever Recipe." In the post, Heidi Swanson gives some background to her discovery of Peter Reinhart's Neapolitano pizza dough along with an adapted version of the recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. It seemed a bit detailed, but it sounded good and a few days later I gave it a go.


I'll admit I had a rough time of it. It was my first time working with wet dough—to date I'd only made some quick breads and some rather disappointing bread sticks, and this was a whole different beast. The first pizza went everywhere. The second was little better. Did I mention the smell of carbonized semolina flour? Altogether the pizzas were a mess, but they were still good enough that it showed promise, and it got me interested in checking out Reinhart's books.


Ten days later my wife surprised me with copies of The Bread Baker's Apprentice and American Pie. I switched to the AP Neapolitano dough and I've now made the pizzas 3 times. It's the best pizza I've ever had. Our favorite pizza so far is the Pizza Rosa al Bianco.


In the same time, I've been exploring a variety of bread recipes from BBA. For myself, the European style breads, and for my wife a variety of sandwich loaves. But one of the formulas has overshadowed all the others. First I made bagels for us. My entire family raved. Then I made bagels for my wife's co-workers. And then my mom wanted some for her school. I have been making between 2–3 dozen bagels per week for the last month or two. And thanks to some snooping around the forums here, my bagels have consistently gotten better with each batch. I have to admit it does feed my ego when people constantly tell me that my bagels are better than anything in town and that I should open up a shop. Most of the bagels I've had around here don't even begin to compete with these. Panera comes closest, but there are a few people insisting that these are better yet. I agree that they're good, but I'm still hunting for the perfect bagel.


In the meantime, I'm very proud of these and love making them with a couple tweaks to Mr. Reinhart's formula. The few changes I make are as follows:



  • Liberally add more flour—I need to measure this, because I'm consistently adding more flour as the dough seems fairly wet

  • Toss the proof times out the window—since I have to hand kneed 1-2 batches at a time, the bagels are often ready to be retarded just as soon as I have them shaped

  • Increase baking soda to 1/4 cup per pot of water—1 tbsp wasn't sufficiently gelatinizing the outer dough

  • Add malt syrup to the water until the water is tea colored (with thanks to those who have posted Jeffrey Hamelman's techniques)—without the malt, the bagels come out of the oven very pale


I've also experimented with some different toppings. I liked the ginger, garlic, sesame bagels I turned out, but my wife wasn't a fan of the ginger zing. The favorite topping, by far, has been my adaptation of the Pizza Rosa al Bianco from American Pie. I mince the red onion—is there any reason why everyone seems to use rehydrated onion for bagels?—and chop the pistachio nuts and rosemary smaller than I would for the pizzas. It still gets a huge heap of parmigiano reggiano and gets spritzed with olive oil before going into the oven.


Bagel Rosa al Bianco


There are still a few things I'd like to figure out. No matter what I do, the bagels don't have the texture I expect—the inside isn't quite a chewy as I think they should be, and I've tried using KA Sir Lancelot HG flour as well as boiling longer. The crust is also surprisingly soft. Chewy, yes, but shouldn't the crust have a crispness about them?


Regardless, these bagels are certainly satisfying. Everyone from my 2 year old daughter to my recently-vegan parents begs for them. And this makes me very, very happy.

Comments

earth3rd's picture
earth3rd

I have to be honest with you... when I saw the pictures I thought they were donuts.

Tuirgin's picture
Tuirgin

Yeah, they do look like donuts. These pics were from my first time using the roll and join method as opposed to the poke method. Next time I'll probably try to get them a little less bulbous. Here's a photo of a bagel where I used the poke method. It also didn't have the larger amount of baking soda or the malt syrup in the bath:


And older version of the Rosa al Bianco

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I love the toppings on the bagels..nicely done.  You have my favorite pizza book, 'American Pie'! 


Sylvia 

Tuirgin's picture
Tuirgin

It was a great read. I really enjoyed it, and we're loving the pizzas. His basic tomato sauce doesn't thrill me, but I was already quite happy with Marcella Hazan's pizza sauces from her Essentials of Classical Italian Cooking. Her sauce and his dough are a perfect mix. Unfortunately, I've been so happy with the Neapolitano dough that I haven't gone on to try most of the other style pizzas.

Yolandat's picture
Yolandat

Nothing is quite as lovely as fresh homemade bagels and yours look amazing. I love having the dough in the fridge overnight and with very little work have hot fresh bagels for breakfast. 

Tuirgin's picture
Tuirgin

Thanks! There's a comforting sense of readiness in having the bottom of my fridge filled with 4 half-sheets of bagels at the end of the day.

stefenos's picture
stefenos

i am not familar with the recipe that you used so am unaware of the amount of fat in the dough.  i had a go with bagels earlier this year and in my research i found that less fat equals chewier bagels.  i believe this to be true of bread baking in general, but especially in products with less rise like bagels and pizza dough.  your pictures are beautiful and your craftsmanship in the application of the toppings is quite impressive.  good luck bagel guy.

Tuirgin's picture
Tuirgin

Thanks -- there's no real fat in the dough other than the minimal amount used on the parchment paper and the pastic bag I put them in overnight. I've switched from misting the bagels before putting them into the bag to misting the bag and then trying to arrange things so that the bag doesn't make contact anyway. We'll see how it goes.

EvaB's picture
EvaB

how the bagels you are comparing to are made, are they commercial, do they have enhancers???? Maybe your bagles are better. They are certainly fresher, so might be more tender. Does the chew increase when the bagels are older, or do they disappear so fast you don't know? If that is the case, then I'd say don't worry about the chew, the whatever, and thank the gods of baking you can eat bagels, I can't they raise my blood sugar levels to supersonic heights!

kutzeh's picture
kutzeh

I used to buy bagels from a Jewish bakery and they were nothing like the ones sold now. I cannot achieve them either. They were not soft  and spongy and risen to a gigantic circle.These were sort of dense inside but tender and chewy. The outside crust was shiny, harder and very chewy. They were so tasty you would eat 3 on the way home. Did not need butter, were just so good they needed nothing but an eater. Good luck in creating them the way you like it. I would be interested in the recipe as it looks like a real Jewish bagel.


Patti


buck2pat@comcast.net

Tuirgin's picture
Tuirgin

The recipe is straight out of The Bread Baker's Apprentice. It starts with a sponge:




  • .11 oz instant yeast

  • 18 oz high gluten flour

  • 20 oz water


Once the sponge has doubled add:
  • .055 oz yeast
  • 17 oz hg flour
  • .7 oz salt
  • .33 oz malt powder or .5 oz syrup
Mix, knead, divide, shape, proof, retard and then finish in the morning with a boil (w/ baking soda) and bake.

earth3rd's picture
earth3rd

I'm going to try this. Sounds cool to me.

earth3rd's picture
earth3rd

I've never really done it yet. I'm thinking its a pot with water and baking soda, (or lye I hear). So you boil the dough for a few minutes? What.... then let them dry off a bit... then bake them in a very hot oven? Coated with sesame or poppy seeds... I'm sure if the water is bubbling it would be to much so a high low we'll say. Pardon my ignorance, I'm just learning and I kind of like bagels. 

Tuirgin's picture
Tuirgin

If you're not using lye, you can have the water boiling pretty much full blast. The baking soda can start bubbling out of control on max boil, though, so I keep it at a solid simmer, low boil. You're just boiling the dough for a minute or two each side to gelatinize the crust.

earth3rd's picture
earth3rd

How many bagels should you get out of this?

Tuirgin's picture
Tuirgin

~12, depending on how much flour you end up adding. The instructions from the book say to weigh them out at 4.5 oz each. I've seen other instructions indicating that bagels should be no more than 4 oz.