The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Onion Toppings always burn

bobku's picture

Onion Toppings always burn

How can I stop onion toppings on my bagels from burning. I rehydrate minced onions in boiling water let them sit for a while drain them and place on top of bagel. but they still burn  Should I refrigerate or freeze them. Or maybe its the brand I buy, I just can seem to stop them from burning

tomac's picture

Try caramelizing the onions first. Cook them in a little olive oil till super golden.


bobku's picture

but I am using minced onion. not fresh , should I be using fresh

davidg618's picture

and sugars exposed to heating caramelize. Keep adding heat, and they continue to caramelize further and loose moisture. Ultimately they burn. If you want the sweet, not burnt, flavor of caramelized onion in your bagels do as tomac suggests: caramelize them before hand. And, as a further step, add them to the dough, don't just put them on top. As a topping they will continue to caramelize, and dry out until they burn. Added to the dough they will only be subjected to temperatures near boiling: they won't burn. However, that's not enough heat to caramelize them in the dough, that's why you should caramelize them before hand.

Alternatively, you might try to find a technique wherein you can add the onions during the later minutes of the bake, maybe the last ten minutes. The onions will caramelize without burning overall, but I don't know how you'd get them to stick to the bagel's surface.

I've stopped using onions as topping for foccacia for the same reason.

David G

bobku's picture

Not sure If I am making myself clear, not looking to use freah onions. they won't have the same toasted taste. Bagel shops use minced or dried onions without burning them I know other home bakers use them also. There  must be a way to use them without burning so badly. Freah onions won't have the same effect.

nycbaker11's picture

You should add your onion toppings during the second half of th bake. IE: if your bagels bake for 15 minutes, pull them out spra tops and put onion topping at the 7:30 mark.
Let us know ho it work out


alconnell's picture

I have tried lots of techniques for both onion and garlic.  The one that seems to work best is to put the toppings side down for around half the baking time then flip.   It's a bit tricky on the timing because the moisture from the re-hydrated onions can prevent proper browning of the dough.  Love to know how the bagel shops do it.

bobku's picture

Is there anyone out there who knows how the bagel shops do it ?

Ocelaris's picture

I know this is old, but I use dehydrated onions (or everything mix), and soak them in hot water prior to using. So maybe 1/4 cup dried onions + poppy + sesame if you want it, plus 1 cup boiling water, and then let it soak while the bread rises, just before you put them in the oven, drain them, squeeze out as much moisture as you can (not too much), and they taste just like a bagel shop. I've tried fried onions, and they didn't have that flavor I was looking for, but the dehydrated chunks (not granulated) work perfect. 

awysocki's picture

I'm a year late in replying to this. but real bagel shops use wet bagel boards.  These are board wrapped in canvas, jute or linen. So for the first part of the bake, the onions are inbetween a wet board and the wet bagel.  When you flip them to finish the bake they will still dry out, but not burn so much.

So go find a 4" x 16" piece of wood, (NOT PINE) depth of your oven baking stone, I use popular or hard maple, wrap it with heavy linen (wrap twice if its thin).  Then soak your boards in water as wet as you can get them, boil your bagels. put the bagels topping side down on the board. put the board in the oven, 4-6 minutes at 500 degrees, flip the board to finish the bake 8-9 minutes.  Your onions will come out mainly carmelized and not burnt.

Those times and temps are for my home kitchen oven.  I use an electric oven with convection turned on.  When I do this in an oven without convection I crank the heat to 525.  I'm a home bagle shop.

SCruz's picture

I've had the same problem. Did you ever find a solution that really helped?


vtsteve's picture

I like the dehydrated chopped onion; the minced are a little small. I've been toasting the dry onions (350F for about 5 minutes on a cookie sheet) before hydrating them. Drain, add salt (and poppy seed if desired), and the secret ingredient: a small amount of vegetable oil. I think the oil helps seal the moisture inside the onion flakes, so they don't burn. In fact, if you don't toast them first, they barely brown.

The oil does make the topping slide around a bit - starting upside down is out of the question - but the onions are well-stuck after baking.

joyfulbaker's picture

also a year late--to keep the onions (and seed toppings as well) well stuck on the baked bagel, I've been brushing the tops with egg white beaten with a little water (a scant tsp. per white) just after they come out of the water bath (and ice bath, which I continue to use).  Hope it works for you.