Help needed - Bagels sticking in oven to parchment and also to baking stone
I made my first batch of bagels this morning using the Hamelman recipe from his Bread cookbook. They turned out tasting great with proper texture and such but I did have some issues with sticking in the oven and am wondering how to get around this the next time I make them.
I had them in the fridge on half sheet pans sprinkled with semolina flour and had no issues there with sticking. I boiled them the 45 seconds and then put them in the ice bath for 4 minutes. After the ice bath, I drained them a bit with the slotted skimmer and then with my fingers placed them in the bowl to coat them with my toppings (some sesame seed, some poppy seed, and some sea salt). All the toppings stuck great to the wet bagels.
I do not have the bagel boards Hamelman suggests so for the first batch I placed the bagels topping side down on a sheet of parchment paper (King Arthur brand) that was on my peel. I then transferred the parchment with the bagels from the peel to my baking stone that was preheated in my oven to the 500 degrees (baking stone is the square one from King Arthur). After 4 minutes you are supposed to flip the bagels. Since I was not using boards, I was using tongs to flip them. The bagels were sticking to the paper which was crumbling and I was creating a mess and was worried about destroying the bagels. I quickly got my peel and transferred paper and bagels back onto the peel and flipped them with the tongs while out of the oven on my counter and also got rid of the parchment. I put the bagels back in the oven onto the stone and all was well when time to take them out, as bottoms did not stick to stone.
For the second batch I decided to try and skip the parchment since had the sticking issue. I did the same toppings and put the bagels topping side down on my peel and then put them onto my stone without paper. After 4 minutes I wen to turn and almost all the bagels were stuck on my stone and I had a big mess this time - worse sticking than I had with the paper! I used a metal turner and as able to unstick then so I could flip them. Needless to say, this batch looked a lot worse than the first!
I can see the benefit of the boards now if they prevent sticking. But I would rather not make them as not sure what type of wood to use. So assuming not using boards, how can I prevent this mess I had? Should I:
1) dry/drain the bagels a bit after I top them on a couche before putting them top side down on peel (with or without parchment)? Hamelman says nothing about draining though, but he uses boards.
2) lightly oil the parchment with a paper towel that has oil on it?
3) just make the bagel boards, but if I do what type of wood? I cannot find redwood locally here in Michigan at lumber yard.
4) get another couche and wet it and put that in 500 degree oven without the boards? Then when time to flip, use my tongs and just remove the couche and finish the baking on the stone? I assume the couche would not burn up/catch fire if wet first??!
My thought on first using the parchment was so I did not get toppings all over my oven. But since the parchment burns and crumbles at 500 degrees it may not be worth it. If I had not taken everything out on my peel after 4 minutes to flip on my counter I may never have gotten the parchment out either in 1 piece because after 4 minutes it was already crumbly around the edges. But since the bagels really stuck to my stone, not sure what to do! I always just leave my stone in my oven. It has darkened in spots but not totally black all over. I have had it for a few years now and when baking bread I always have the bread on parchment to make transferring from peel easier.
Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!