The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough bagel question/ troubleshooting......

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Sedlmaierin's picture

Sourdough bagel question/ troubleshooting......

Hello, I am new here and have been perusing this website with a terribly obsessive streak-oh the wealth of information is just lovely and mind-boogling! I wish I could bake all day!

Ok, that aside-I just made my very first batch of bagels and have a few questions. Let me just say first off, that my family and I really like the way they turned out, so if I don't even figure out what went awry it is no biggie, but I am curious as to why they didn't do what they were supposed to according to the recipe.

I followed bwraith's "Sourdough Bagels Revisited" recipe ( ) with the difference that I didn't have malt syrup at hand-so I used molasses , I had no first clear flour so I used Unbleached White flour by Arrowhead Mills and, since my SD starter was Rye, I used the white flour for the entire 27oz needed.

That being said, they behaved just charmingly until I performed the float test in the baking soda enriched, simmering water: no floating. Waited 20 minutes, no floating, waited 20 minutes more still no floating. I figured I would test bake three of the first no-floaters and they came out fine, so I baked them even though I couldn't get any of them to float. Some of them ended up sitting out on the counter in the kitchen for close to an hour-I was fearing they would turn into buns, but they didn't.They are chewy, they have a few slightly bigger holes than what I am used to in Bagels and the flavor is great.Any ideas why I couldn't get them to float? I had them in the boiling water about 30 seconds; as stated in the recipe.

(Hmmm,I have a crumb shot but don't know how to post it. I need to figure out how to post pictures...but the toddler is demanding attention)


LindyD's picture

Boiling the bagels sets the crust. The water should be at a rolling boil, not a simmer.  Keep the bagels in the refrigerator until they are ready to go into the boiling water.

I'm not sure what the float test is supposed to accomplish, but I doubt if it has any effect on the finished product.  

The ideal bagel has a dense, chewy crumb.  High-gluten flour is the flour of preference and will give the best results.  Because it is not readily available in stores, some use bread flour.  As a former New Yorker, I find there's a substantial difference in texture and taste, so if I don't have high-gluten flour on hand, I don't make bagels.

Don't worry whether they float or not. What counts is that you're happy with the results.