The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BBA Bagel Recipe - Sponge problems

pith's picture

BBA Bagel Recipe - Sponge problems

I've just recently purchased the BBA book by Reinhart and I was wanting to make some bagels. I've tried making the sponge three times and seem unable to get the right texture. Reinhart describes it being like pancake batter and my sponge looks more like a thick lumpy mass. It doesn't foam up or double in size within two hours. Does anyone know why the constancy of the sponge appears to be substantially thicker then pancake batter?



Bethro's picture

I am by no means an expert, although I have made that recipe successfully a few times (one of my favorites), but I will offer my opinion in case I strike on something you could use.


Hold back 1/2 the flour for the sponge for the first mixing of the ingredients, then slowly add it bit by bit using a whisk to stir it in. Stop adding when you get to the right consistency even if you haven't used all the flour. The other tactic you might try (if you are not already) is weighing instead of measuring. It might be a simple case of your "cup" being packed tighter than others. Apologies if this is all already clear to you. As I said, I am not an expert by any means.


Breadhouse's picture

I had the same problem with my starter. I realized that my starter is thicker when the temperature is cold and runny when warmer. I now make my starter with a hydration percentage of 107%. I used to have it at 100% hydration but this mixture works better for me. I do keep it in the fridge if I don't use it for a long time and then thicken it up a bit or hooch will form on top. If I am going to bake a lot or use the starter for more than one day consecutively, I keep it in a prover at 25-29'C. I have noticed that the wetter the starter is, the more acidic it becomes and this temperature seemed to help to 'stabilize' it. These are just my observations. hope it helps!