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Sourdough Bagels (thanks to Susanfnp)

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bwraith's picture
bwraith

Sourdough Bagels (thanks to Susanfnp)

Sourdough Bagels

Many thanks to Susanfnp for posting a great sourdough bagel recipe based on Nancy Silverton's bagel recipe. She also provided a number of key tips as I made these. I posted some photos process, as well as a spreadsheet with more details such as bakers percentages and preferment percentages.

Sourdough Bagel Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 335 grams (12 oz) 100% hydration white flour starter
  • 17 grams (0.6 oz) sugar
  • 12 grams (0.4 oz) malt syrup
  • 17 grams (0.6 oz) salt
  • 2.8 grams (0.1 oz) instant yeast
  • 359 grams (12.5 oz) water
  • 186 grams (6.5 oz) first clear flour (I used KA First Clear Flour. Substitute a high ash or whole grain flour - maybe rye, whole wheat, Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo, or just use white flour)
  • 578 grams (20.5 oz) high gluten flour (I used KA Sir Lancelot High Gluten Flour. Substitute bread flour or other high protein white flour.

Mix Dough - Day Before Baking

I used a mixer. While reading the Nancy Silverton recipe, the idea seems to be to get a very stiff dough. I decided the mixer might save some effort. Nancy Silverton specifies 8 minutes at a medium speed.

Add starter to mixer bowl, then mix water, yeast, sugar, and malt syrup and add to the mixing bowl. Mix ingredients well with a spoon or whisk. Mix flours and salt so they are well integrated, then add them all to the mixing bowl and stir with a spoon or whisk to get most of the flour wet.

Mix at low speed until ingredients form a mass, then mix at medium. Total mix time should be about 8 minutes. The result should be a supple but not at all tacky dough. You should be able to work with this dough easily with dry hands on a dry counter. If it is at all sticky, you probably have too much water in it. The objective is to end up with no flour dust, since you want the bagels to come out smooth and have a sheen. That won't happen if you get flour dust on them.

Remove dough from mixer and knead on the counter a few times to verify the consistency of the dough is correct. It should become a satin, supple, somewhat stiff, not tacky dough that is easy to work with.

Shaping

Divide the dough into about 18 3 ounce pieces. Since the dough is so dry, it may develop a dry skin fairly quickly, so proceed smartly to the shaping stage. Don't dilly dally at this point, as the dough pieces will become too puffy quickly if they are allowed to sit at room temperature for very long. However, the pieces need to rest a short time, maybe 5 to 10 minutes, so that the gluten will be relaxed enough to shape the bagels.

If you have a fine mist spray (I have an atomizer meant for olive oil that I use for water), you can make shaping easier and avoid the dry skin, particularly on the pieces you shape last, by spraying a tiny amount of water on the pieces before you shape them.

To form the bagels, roll out an 8 inch rope shape with your palms. If the dough is too stiff or you make a mistake and want to start over, let that piece rest a few more minutes, and move to the next piece. Take the 8 inch rope and hold it between your palm and your thumb. Wrap the rope around your hand and bring the other end together with the end you are holding between your palm and thumb. You now have a "rope bracelet" wrapped around your hand. Rub the seams together on the counter to seal them, then take off the bracelet, which should look a lot like a bagel, hopefully. Stretch it out so you have a large 2.5 inch hole. It looks big, but it will shrink or even disappear as the dough rises during boiling and baking. The hole needs to be big looking compared to a normal bagel.

Place the bagels on parchment dusted with semolina flour on a sheet. Cover with saran or foil or place the whole sheet in an extra large food storage bag (XL Ziploc is what I'm thinking here). The idea is to lock in moisture to avoid any dry skin forming yet allow room for some slight expansion as they puff up. Place the sheets in the refrigerator to retard overnight.

Boiling

Bring 5 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda in a good sized stock pot to a boil.  Place a bagel in the pot and make sure it floats to the top. If so, you can do 4-6 bagels at one time. They should only be in the water for about 20 seconds. Push them under periodically with a wooden spoon, so the tops are submerged for a few seconds. In my case, I never managed to get the bagels out before about 30 seconds were up, but they came out fine. If the test bagel won't float, lift it out with a slotted spoon, and gently pat it dry and allow the bagels you have removed from the refrigerator (I did 6 of them at a time) to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes and try again. In my case, they floated immediately out of the refrigerator, probably because I was a little slow getting the dough formed and shaped the previous night. I took the sheets out one at a time, so I could keep the bagels from getting too warm, since I was only doing 6 at a time.

Dip in Seeds

Make plates of seed beds. I made three seed beds. One was 2 parts caraway seed, 1 part anise seed, and a pinch of salt. Another was 2 parts dill seed, 1 part fennel seed, and a pinch of salt. The last was poppy seed and a pinch of salt. I also made salt bagels, but those were done by just sprinkling a little kosher salt on some of them with my fingers.

Right after the bagels are removed from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, place them on a rack to cool for a few seconds. After they have cooled of slightly and dried enough not to ruin the seed bed with too much wetness, pick one up and place it round side down (the tops down), and gently press them into the seed bed. Pick them up and place them right side up on a sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted lightly with semolina flour or coarse corn meal.

Baking

Preheat the oven to about 400F. No preheat may work, but I'm not sure. It seems easy, from my limited experience, for them to rise too much. The result will be an open bread-like crumb, instead of the very chewy, more dense crumb expected in a bagel. So, I didn't risk a no-preheat strategy in this case.

If you have a stone, you can transfer the parchment paper on a peel to the stone and bake directly on the stone. I baked them for about 20 minutes at 400F. You can also bake them on the sheet.

Cool

Allow the bagels to cool.

Results

The bagels were chewy and delicious. The crumb was more open than I wanted. The reasons for the open crumb were probably two things: 1) I delayed too long in the mixing, shaping, and covering stage the night before. 2) I made a mental error during the mixing and left out about 78 grams of flour from the recipe. The higher hydration contributed to a slightly less dense crumb, I believe. The recipe amounts are adjusted to reflect what I think are the correct amounts for the flour choices above. The important thing is to get a very firm dough and not to let the dough or the bagels rise too much during the various stages leading up to baking.

Comments

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

Someone brought in a dozen of those fluffy bagels from Panera to our office this morning - how anyone can call that a bagel is beyond me. I can't wait to try this recipe. You did a beautiful job - proving once again that taking the time gives the best results.

Trish

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Trish,

I just want to say once again, thanks to Susanfnp for her recipes and photos. I just had a feeling this was the right recipe when I saw her post. All I'm doing is imitating her beautiful product. Check it out on her thread about sourdough bagels.

Right, I know what you mean. There are so many imposters. A great bagel is something I rarely encounter anymore. I remember as a kid  in high school going to some great little bagel shops out here in suburban NJ. You just couldn't beat a toasted, buttered, salted bagel for comfort food. They are still around, but there are a lot of strange mutations, too. I think this recipe makes what I remember as a true bagel from one of those great little bagel shops.

Bill

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

here in Omaha (only one store - not a franchise) and I know what you mean - fresh out of the oven - just a little warm with some plain cream cheese - yikes! my mouth is watering :). Showed this recipe to my husband (and fellow baker) tonight when he came home from work. This is definately on the schedule for the week-end. Thanks for all your detailed instructions and pictures. I'll post pictures of the final product and let you know how it turned out.

Trish

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Trish,

You can probably get all you need as far as info on this from reading the links on Susanfnp's post and the blog entry here. However, I got some good clues about how it should all be done reading Silverton's book, the BBA and "Bread" by Hamelman. All those books had some interesting discussions of bagels. Only Silverton had a sourdough version. As always, I'm a big fan of the flavors that come from sourdough, and I think this recipe is no exception. Silverton's recipe is good for providing the sourdough flavor. However, the yeasted recipes in the BBA and in Bread were also illuminating in some ways. If you have any of those books, they are definitely worth reading before doing this recipe.

Bill

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

Very clear, detailed description of the process. The bagels don't look bad, either ;-)

One thing I'm curious about is the temperature of your water and whether you took the temperature of your dough coming out of the mixer (OK, that's two things). I usually use water straight out the fridge at around 40F, and I still have so much mixing friction that the final dough temp is higher than what NS says it should be (can't remember the numbers off the top of my head, though). A lower dough temp for me might solve the overproofing problem (as might less yeast and/or more salt). Maybe refrigerating the flour first would help...

Susanfnp

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Susan,

I did not take the temperature of my dough coming out of the mixer. I will try to remember to do that the next time. I just went for 8 minutes, first at low, then at the next setting up. I kneaded a little after that by hand - all this more or less as directed by NS, but I didn't check the temperature as mentioned in those instructions.

That's interesting about the water right out of the fridge. I used water out of my water cooler, which comes out at 45F, but the flour was at room temperature. Maybe a little less yeast would be the easy way not to have to be so careful about rushing the shaping process. However, it's not like it was difficult or troublesome, and the crumb was just slightly more open than would have been perfect.

I think if all I did was get the hydration a little lower, which was my mistake this time, everything would have worked perfectly. Add to that being more practiced at shaping now and using the atomizer to spray the dough pieces lightly with water, and I'd be even more in the right zone. I also probably will be much faster the next round at boiling them, dipping them, and getting them in the oven in quick succession.

I had 1.7% salt, and that seemed more than enough as far as flavor is concerned. I think it's good to have low salt in the dough, since I like the salt in the toppings, even if it means trying to keep the fermentation slower by other methods.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Darn, I was really trying to avoid the bagel lust.  Perhaps I've never tasted a true and authentic bagel and probably because of that I had not felt the urge to go to the trouble it sounds to make them.  However yours (and Susan's) look so fabulous and I would also like to taste sourdough bagels.  (Is that normal for a bagel, btw...:o)

How did you like working with that first clear flour?  Is it a necessary part of making bagels?  I just don't think I love the stuff.  As you know, I'd been trying it for a few recipes but try as I may it just is a PITA.  And I think, for me, it doesn't do anything special for the flavors I'm expecting in my breads.  So I'd about decided not to purchase it again.

One more question for you.  What is the difference between bagels and bialys?  I never heard bialys before the ABAA book.

Bill, your bagels are beautiful.  They look so good and now because you (and Susan) have gone to the trouble to make a sourdough version and posted such great instructions I think I can dip my toe into the water.  I would love to see how a homemade bagel would taste compared to what I've tasted in this town.  (Trish, where in the world in Omaha can you get a really good bagel?)

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi ZB,

I'm not really sure if SD is normal for bagels. Of the baking books I have, it seemed like all the bagel recipes were yeast raised, not SD, other than Nancy Silverton's. However, these are just really, really good, so I'm sticking with sourdough. My kids are encouraging me to make these regularly, so I know they're a big hit. They only do that with a few recipes. Other than that, they just graze away at whatever is available.

Peter Reinhart says in the BBA that he has done a large amount of research on how to do perfect bagels, since he is a big bagel fan. His recipe seemed very similar in almost every respect to these, other than not having sourdough starter added.

A bialy is a flat chewy bread I used to be able to get at little shops early in the morning in NYC near where I worked. The bread has an indentation in the middle to carry butter or some topping. You could get a bialy and a good cup of coffee, but it was one of those situations like the "soup nazi" in Seinfeld. God help you if you made a mistake ordering. These guys behind the counter had no mercy, talked really fast, shouted to people in the back, and always seemed grumpy. You'd get sent right to back of the line if you hesitated or misspoke in any way.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

magic! These are beautiful and I can see why your kiddos love them!! Lordy I love NY Bagels and haven't had any since the last time I was in the city!

One of my favorite breakfasts is bagels with lox, cream cheese, a big slice of onion and a fresh mater slice! MMMMM MMMMM Good!

ROFL about the soup nazi. I don't know if I've ever had a Bialy. Have you tried your hand at making them?

Thanks for the awesome right up and thanks to Susan for inspiring you to make another outstanding recipe!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

BZ, 

Yes, I can't thank Susanfnp enough for posting her version. When I read the recipe and then went and read the Nancy Silverton recipe, I pretty much had the picture of how to make them. I wouldn't change much, other than correcting the slightly too high hydration I used for these.

I haven't tried making bialys, but it could be another good one to try, especially since lately, due to some prodding from Zolablue, I've been exploring and enjoying Artisan Baking by Glezer, where I believe she has a bialy recipe.

If you try making some bagels, I'll be interested to see how it turns out.

Bill

 

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

Bagel Bin Omaha NEBagel Bin Omaha NE

 ZB-

Of course we can get good bagels in Omaha! We're a population of nearly a million and have a lot of wonderfu ethnic communities here including a strong Jewish community. These bagels are made every day at BB - they also make their own spreads and Challas - www.bagelbin.com. While you're out it check out omaha: http://www.visitomaha.com/

Trish

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I have not heard of Bagel Bin.  I will definately stop there and pick some up and then make my own to compare.  You might not realize I live in Omaha, too.  :o)

PS...I really wanted to know since I live here and didn't know a good place to go.  When we lived in The Old Market there was a place but I don't remember the name and I'm not sure they were considered the best bagels.  Thanks for the info.

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

That we should both be in Omaha...I know you'd prefer NY but Omaha's not such a bad place, eh?

 T.

btw - have you tried Zio's pizza - another great Omaha product!

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Oh, Bill, you have me laughing!  That is just too funny!  I thought Seinfeld made that all up so wait until I tell my hubby what you just said.  He'll get a kick out of it as well.  You make bialys sound really good and I'm sure I'll have to try making them as well.  Sourdough bialys?  Hmm, better get on that, Bill!

Ah, I'm so envious of anyone living in or near NYC.  I'm so stuck in the midwest.  I have let my parents know I still don't forgive them.  I know it was simply an accident of birth. :o)

Elagins's picture
Elagins

Bill and I are very much on the same wavelength re: the wild yeast sponge. Purist that I am, I figure that the original bagel bakers in Eastern Europe relied almost exclusively on natural yeasts, rather than relying on the domestic version. My quest for authenticity is what drives me ... that and taste-memories of childhoold Sunday mornings in Brooklyn, when my father and I would go to the bakery to pick up a dozen bagels, the news-stand for the Sunday NY Times, and the smoked fish store for lox and cream cheese. ... Ingredients for 2 dozen bagels, $4.00; the taste of those Sunday mornings, priceless.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Stan,

I just enjoyed reading your comment above. What a nice story to read a few minutes into Father's Day.

Bill