The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First go at bagels. Not bad, but not right yet.

mr_magicfingers's picture
mr_magicfingers

First go at bagels. Not bad, but not right yet.

Hi all, yesterday I had my first go at baking bagels. The recipe I used is from the River Cottage Bread Book, which has been my bible as I learn to bake bread. The recipe is featured here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/8784570/River-Cottage-Baking-recipes-international-breads.html?image=4

I followed the recipe and produced nice puffy bagels after proving. However, after boiling for a minute a side, they kind of deflated a bit rather than puffing up further. When baked, they do taste lovely, better than any I've bought in a shop except for the ones from the 24hour bagel shop here in London. I'm about to go and toast some for breakfast with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs :)

I'm hoping someone might have a suggestion for what I've either done wrong or what I can do to improve them next time, so they're that bit puffier and more the size you tend to expect of a bagel. 

Thanks, Justin.

emilydev's picture
emilydev

Hi, these look really nice for a first go. Although puffy after proving, they may actually be overproofed; I find that causes them to take on water and deflate when boiled, sometimes disastrously. Try using less yeast or proofing for less time. You an also try using very little yeast (like 1/2 tsp) and proofing in the fridge overnight.

Home Baker's picture
Home Baker

You really can't do better than this discusion, featuring Norm Berg and Stan Ginsburg authors of the recently published Inside the Jewish Bakery. I believe the book has an entire chapter devoted to the history and evolution of New York bagels.

mr_magicfingers's picture
mr_magicfingers

Many thanks for that, I'll have a read through, their recipe looks a bit different from mine. I'm thinking Emily might be right in that they're over proved, they were very soft and airy when they went in the water. I'd been surprised at how stiff the dough was when I started and surprised again after a good proving that it had softened so much, so maybe that was it. 

Have to try again over christmas. Mind you, girlfriend has been munching bagels all day and is making very appreciative noises :)

 

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

You might have a look at this video to understand how to shape them, as the recipe isn't that specific.

Also, what kind of flour are you using. The recipe calls for strong flour, which is generally "bread flour", but bagels need even more strength, such as the strength that comes from hi-gluten flour.

It's possible that you overproofed them too (let them rise too long). I usually bulk ferment bagels for 1 hour, shape them, then immediately put them in the refrigerator for a slow, overnight rise.

If this recipe continues to give you problems, perhaps you can try another. There are many on this site. The recipe I use because it always works is Jeffery Hamelman's in his book Bread.

mr_magicfingers's picture
mr_magicfingers

Hi Thomas, thanks for the reply. The link you put to the video seems to just go to the river cottage bagel recipe which I used. 

I used strong white bread flour, as per the recipe. I understood that strong bread flour was high gluten flour? Am I mistaken?

I've seen a number of recipes now suggested a slow overnight rise, so I'll try that next time then bake them for breakfast and see if that helps. I'll look up the book you mentioned, thanks.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Sorry about that. Here's the correct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymtIUhkbN6o

I don't know if the strong flour you used is the same as what we call hi gluten in the states. According to Harold McGee, strong flour can have anywhere between 11-15% protein.

85% of the protein in wheat flour is gluten, so you can see how a strong flour with 11% protein could differ significantly from a strong flour with 14.2% protein.

For bagels, I use a flour from King Arthur called Sir Galahad, which is 14.2% protein. Here's the spec. sheet for that flour: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/professional/specifications-conventional-bakery-flour.html



 


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I just noticed that you boiled them a minute each side. That's too long.

Try for a maximum of 45 seconds total, not 1 minute each side (or 2 minutes).

You don't need to flip them. You're really just giving them a hot bath for 45 seconds. 

-

I just read that recipe once more. There are too many questionable instructions (or lacking thereof) for me to recommend your using it again.

tikidoc's picture
tikidoc

I third the comment about over-proofing.

A couple times when I got distracted (kids) when the oven was heating, and they overproofed, and I had similar results.  Bagels should not really be puffy. The recipe I use (Ciril Hitz's) calls for an overnight proof in the fridge.  They don't puff during proofing all that much, but they grow a fair bit during the boil (30 seconds/side).  

The other two things that I think make a big difference is using a high gluten flour (I use KASL) and using lye in the water.  I tried with baking soda but didn't get that "bagel-y" flavor.  Switched to lye, just 1 tsp per quart of water, and the taste is awesome.  Also makes for a lovely brown color and that distinct chew.

mr_magicfingers's picture
mr_magicfingers

Thanks for that info, I'll search for your recipe and see if I can find some lye locally too.