Bagels from The Bread Baker's Apprentice—Updated
I just posted a blog entry discussing the bagels I've been making and wanted to follow it up over here in the forums with a couple questions.
I've used longer boil times and have compared KA Sir Lancelot HG flour to bagels made with KA's Bread flour and find there's only a slight difference in chewiness. These bagels are good, but the inner bagel is still surprisingly soft. What aspects of bagel making can affect the chewiness outside of boil time and gluten content of the flour?
After increasing the amount of baking soda, and adding malt syrup to my water, the exterior is getting much closer to what I expect from a bagel, but it's still quite soft/chewy. Shouldn't a bagel have a bit of a crackle or crispness to the outside? Is this something that only moving to a lye bath is going to achieve?
Since these are the best bagels I've ever had, I'm guessing that I've never really had a good, traditionally made bagel. What should the crumb look like? Should it have a tight crumb, or should there be some noticeable holes to it?
That's it for now, I think. Although I can't recall all the various posts I've found that have helped me this far into my bagel making, I want to thank the members of The Fresh Loaf forums as a whole for all the great info. I've been lurking until now, but have found the site incredibly helpful. It's helped me improve my bagels, fix my sourdough starter, and given me some ideas on how to deal with kneading and pain in my hands and forearms. Much thanks to all of you!
UPDATE—2010-06-12 10:26 AM
I made a batch of dough up Thursday afternoon using King Arthur Sir Lancelot (High Gluten). I retarded it while the bagels were still extremely sluggish to float. Rather than spraying the bagels with oil to keep them from sticking to the plastic bag they were stored in, I sprayed the plastic bag, itself, and arranged it so that it wouldn't make contact with the bagels; i.e. the spray was just insurance in the event that the bag was moved so that it touched. This morning I boiled them for 90 seconds per side. And rather than sticking the whole tray of bagels in the oven, I removed the bagels from the tray and cooked them directly on my quarry tile. I cooked them for approximately 15 minutes. The bagels were a rich brown with a slight reddish tinge. They had crust—there was a discernable crackle as I passed the knife through them. Biting into them, there was resistance—at first a slight crunch and then chewiness. The upper half which was covered with my everything mixture—Maldon sea salt, black and white sesame seeds, dehydrated garlic granules, and poppy-seed—was less crusty, both because of the seed coverage and because my range just isn't able to achieve an ambient temperature beyond 450ºF. The bottom, which was in contact with the baking stones, was perfectly crusty. There was a slight pretzel-like flavor to the bottom crust. I assume that's because pretzels and bagels both have a gelatinized crust from an alkaline bath. At any rate, the bagels were as close to perfection as I think I can come with this particular formula and my existing range. In fact, they were so good that my wife and 3 daughters wouldn't shut up about them and some of the sounds being made were rather alarming.
Next I'll try some different formulas. I should have Jeffery Hamelman's Bread any day now, and I picked up Mike Avery's small book, Back to Bagels. I want to thank everyone here for your comments and suggestions. It was a huge help. Thank you!