The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bagels - Was it worth putting in the fridge?

amy bassett's picture
amy bassett

Bagels - Was it worth putting in the fridge?

Ok, so here are my bagels, not my first time making them.  I've actually been making bagels for several years now.  I haven't had any complaints about them, in fact, many people say they really like them!  However, I was on a quest to see if I could get more out of my bagels, see if I could make them better.  So, I tried Peter Reinhart's recipe, minus the baking soda in the water on most of the bagels. I did do 2 bagels in the baking soda.  I always thought that having baking soda in the water would make it taste a lot like a pretzel and I don't think that's how a bagel should taste!  Well, I was wrong, well according to my husband :)  Definitely a little tougher crust, in a good way and the malt adds a little but more flavor!  Other than that, they taste just like the bagels I've been making for years. 

But.....I'm not sure that the process I went through makes this bagel any better than the way I've been doing them.  I've been following a very simple recipe, flour, water, yeast, salt and sugar. Let is rise until double, divide into 4 oz pieces, shape, let rest for 20 minutes, boil for a minute each side and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400-425.  If I left the bagels to rise overnight in the fridge, they would turn out the same.  I just don't know if the retarding process is really necessary.  What do you think?



amy bassett's picture
amy bassett

here are some photos:

these were boiled with baking soda

these were not boiled with baking soda

crumb shot!


lumos's picture

Cold, long retardation in a fridge would add depth and complexity in flavour.  It's quite noticeable, I think.  I used to make bagels like yours long time ago, but once I tasted long retarded ones, I could never go back to my old method. ;)


ETA : Sorry. Forgot to say.... Lovely looking bagels! :)

ehanner's picture

I haven't been able to determine if it matters putting baking soda in or not myself. I was out of malted barley syrup and used honey a few times recently and they looked great. Most of the videos you see of big bagel shops boiling the water, they never mention adding anything and the liquid looks like plain water that has had 500 bagels run through it. Yours look good to me.

I do retard at least 6 hours for better flavor and am happy with that procedure.


LindyD's picture

Do try Jeffrey Hamelman's formula listed in his book, Bread.  It's simple, easy, calls for overnight retardation, and results in an authentic old-style four-ounce NYC bagel.    Also, Ciril Hitz has a great video on bagels which you can find here.  Definitely do overnight retarding and enjoy.

Syd's picture

I have never made bagels before but I know that those little blisters on the surface that come from a long, cool rise mean there's a lot flavour in those. Great baking. :)

Tuirgin's picture

I started making bagels a couple years ago when I was out of work. I made many dozens of bagels back then. I started out with Peter Reinhart's bagel formula, and my only post on bagels was from that time. Since then I learned of Hamelman's formula, and I've never gone back. 

I use a lot of malt in the boil—Hamelman calls for enough to make the water look like a strong tea. I also add quite a bit of pre-dissolved baking soda—maybe 1/4 cup dissolved in 4 cups or more of water. The water must be clear before adding to the boil or the soda will create an off-tasting foam that will stick to the dough. I don't think baking soda can create a caustic enough boil to make the bagels really be pretzel-like, and I find that it benefits the crust.

I just made a new batch today, but didn't get pictures. I plan on posting a write-up of my current method soon.