The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bagel Class

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varda's picture
varda

Bagel Class

Today,   I made a tiny little leap to no where in particular by teaching a small class to make bagels.    Since people (including me) had limited time I did a few practice rounds, taking note of the times, so we could fit in everything, including a potluck lunch, into a 2 hour period.

Despite experimenting this way and that in my practices, I decided to faithfully follow Hamelman in most regards except for a couple of simplifications.   I was pleased that this approach seemed to work.   I had started a batch of six bagels the night before and refrigerated, and we started with mixing up a second batch of six, then finishing the first batch.   This was done in time (ok, a little early) to cut, weigh, roll and shape the second batch, which the students took home to finish.   

These were not bakers (bar one) who were familiar with the use of a scale, much  baking with yeast, or what not.    Everything went well, though.   People had fun, and we had a nice lunch.   Phew!

The finished product

I brought the ham

Rinsing the bagel (in lieu of ice water)

Ready to eat with plenty of treats

 

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda,

What a fun thing to do and a fun type of bread to bake due the hands on playing with the dough shaping time and the nice firm dough.  I would imagine that you dispelled any fear your group might have had over boiling and baking a dough on their own.

How industrious to plan and actually carry out the entire process in your home.  I am impressed and I am also wondering where this is headed as I have learned that with baking one thing almost always leads to another....A new cottage industry sprouting up in your neighborhood perhaps?  Will we soon be hearing about you teaching people how to build a WFO?

If you run out of ideas on your own - I can always give you a few :-)  

Thanks for the post!

Take Care,

Janet

varda's picture
varda

by my fingertips and no time for the next thing.   In fact I thought until the very last minute that I was going to have to cancel this class, but somehow I was able to do it.    The group was inexperienced in this type of baking (except for one women who bakes amazing cakes, and has done some bread baking, but had never made bagels before) and they asked a ton of questions, and were really interested.   One was originally from Brooklyn and was just absolutely delighted with the taste, and promptly went home to order Sir Lancelot flour and diastatic malt powder from King Arthur.  

I'm absolutely sure you have more ideas than I could keep up with.   Thanks so much for your comments.

-Varda

proth5's picture
proth5

I thought that you had been to the BBGA Bagel Class held in Vermont last weekend and was about to give us a report...

But this is much better.

Fun and exhausting to give a class in your own kitchen - yes?  I've done a couple of "baking days" one on one with beginning bakers (I have a tiny kitchen) and it is always satisfying to think that you have passed on some knowledge.

Good for you!

Pat

varda's picture
varda

was giving my kitchen a good scrubdown beforehand.   We used every inch of counterspace and I didn't want any unidentified substances creeping into the mix.   I agree about the passing on the knowledge thing.   That THIS is a bagel, and not that other crap that people have been calling bagels, for so long and loud that people stop knowing any better.   Of course it will take a lot more classes than I can give in my kitchen to get that message across.   And yes, also, a lot of fun.   Thanks so much!  -Varda

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Varda,

Congratulations,  that looks like such a blast.  The bagels looked great...good enough to eat!  I'll bet your a great teacher.

If you need help building your WFO let me know I already built  one and hope to be building another soon.

BTW(by the way)  I have the same counter top... well I have pieces of counter top that looks like yours.  I usually grab the sink cutouts after a counter install and use them as hot plate holders or pizza cutting boards out at the WFO.  That is some pretty stuff.

varda's picture
varda

Faith,   I guess the main thing is that I really care about this stuff and want other people to care.   Why?   Who knows.   But I think that's a critical element for teaching.   Thanks for noticing the counters.   I love them dearly.   I already have built my WFO (Wood Fired Oven) twice in fact.   If it needs a third time I'll ask you as I seem to recall you have something really nice.   Thanks so much for commenting.  -Varda

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Great looking results, Varda.  Nicely done!

-Floyd (who has proven more than once that you don't need to know how to do something well to teach folks how to do it!).

varda's picture
varda

Floyd,   I agree with you about that last.   I have made bagels at most 20 times, and so not an expert by any means.    In fact, I put on Ciril Hitz's youtube of bagel shaping before we got to that step as I figured they would get more from watching him than anything I could say.  And then I could also tell them all the mistakes I have made and that made them feel that this was really something doable and not just baking gods who could make a bagel.  Thanks so much for your comments.  -Varda

gmagmabaking2's picture
gmagmabaking2

Those bagels look so good... just the inspiration I needed to do the ones we will be doing in Round 2 of the ITJB Challenge! Thank you for being my hero!

varda's picture
varda

Gmag...   Thanks so much for your comments.   I've made the ITJB (In The Jewish Bakery) bagels too and they are delicious.    I'm so looking forward to the next challenge coming soon.  -Vadra

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

that my barley malt syrup was still in the fridge.  It was.  My bagel experience was yesterday.  Yours turned out much better since your crowd didn't think you are nuts at the end.  As usual, your bake and apprentices are top notch.  Love the calm ham and home made jam.  Inspirational instruction can't be bad.

varda's picture
varda

Did you just call me a calm ham?   The jam was actually marmalade - one was orange and cardamon - the other grapefruit and lemon, made by one of the attendees.   Delicious and she left me some - yay.    I read through your bagel post.   I have to applaud your bravado.   Don't know what the results will be.   More than one way to skin a cat, I suppose.   Your baking assistant should understand that.  Thanks for your comments.  -Varda

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Teaching well requires all kinds character attributes.  Here are some examples.  Being a ham is required at times to bring a smile, lighten a serious atmosphere, make the subject more exciting and fun,  especially when you see students drifting into a glazed eyeball state.  But, being calm most of the time is the ticket for teaching.   Keeping your head in a class is esential where everyone has lost their heads and out of control.   I'm sure you noticed  both sides of yourself calm and hammy while you were teaching.  Being a calm ham is the ticket to a 'both and' kind of solution.  It is quite a compliment and hard for many teachers to do. 

Thanks for asking.

Syd's picture
Syd

That's great Varda!  Where do I sign up for the next class?  There is nothing like teaching to really help you learn something better.  If you want to teach well, you always have to be one step ahead of your students!  The bagels look great and I would have been a very satisfied student, indeed.  Is that barely malt you have in your hand.  Is that a liquid form of non-diastatic malt?  Now you have just given me another project and I haven't even gotten to the sorrowmadinsky, yet.

Best,

Syd

varda's picture
varda

Hi Syd,   "...one step ahead."   You said it.   My shaping improved greatly as I anticipated having to show other people how to do it.   I tell you what, if you make it here from afar I'll drop everything and show you how to make bagels.    As for the jar - it is barley malt syrup which as you say is liquid non-diastatic malt.   It is a mild sweet syrup and I have to put it off limits as otherwise my husband uses it all up for his yogurt and I don't have any for bagels.   I look forward to your next SFSD installment.   Thanks for your comments.  -Varda

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

that I used to use Barley Malt Syrup (BMS) to make beer.  What a godsend and time saver.  Home brewing supply places have huge plastic jugs of the stuff.  Many home brewers use it instead of malting their own grain (which we know is difficult) or buying malted grain and then  letting the enzymes break down the grain to sugars in the mash tun for the yeast to eat in the fermenting tank.  I never knew it was used in bread, except for bagels, until I found TFL.

Haven't made beer for awhile ........

varda's picture
varda

to put on my list when I go back to the brewing supply store.    Thanks for the tip.  -Varda

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

What a inspiration you are to get other's involved in making a great tasting bagel!  How I would have loved to attend your class.  I've never made bagels...I don't eat them but Mike eats them sometimes for a quick carb breakfast before a bike ride or race.  I know they would be much better..over the top from store bought.  The photos are great and show how your class was extremely pleased.  Great class, Varda!

Sylvia

 

varda's picture
varda

bagels for a long time, because I wasn't happy with what I could buy.    It's exciting to be making them so I can enjoy them again.   The class was very nice.   They stayed to help me clean up and left me some of the nice treats they had brought.    Now if only they were interested in learning how to make a Borodinsky.    Thanks Sylvia!  -Varda

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Varda, KAF is having a free shipping for 60 over purchase.  I will order some high gluten flour.  What kind of flour do you recommend I order...and anything else for the bagels..I have barley malt already might be a bit old..but I think it has good keeping quality?   I also just received 4 bags of white sesame seeds..enough for sometime.. they were on sale at amazon..I've been interested in the wfo bagels..they say they are sweeter than the regular bagels..I can't think of their name just off hand..it's a busy day..packing last minute notice to go to Vegas with my daughter and grand daughter..exciting though..a vacation home to check out...we have lot's of family/friends there too...be back Sunday and weather permitting..maybe some bagels : ) you make it sound fairly easy.  A class would have been much more fun though!

Sylvia

 

varda's picture
varda

The three ingredients you may not have handy are High Gluten Flour - I use Sir Lancelot from King Arthur.    It is just fantastic for bagels.      Second is diastatic malt powder.   This is what Hamelman lists in his ingredients.   On the King Arthur Website, it says non-diastatic malt powder is best for bagels.    Confusing.   But I make them as Hamelman says and so go with diastatic.    Have you been keeping yours in the refrigerator?   I think it lasts a long time.   You can also order from KA.   Third is malt syrup for boiling.    I got a jar at Whole Foods.   You may be thinking of Montreal bagels for the sweeter WFO variety.   Those are really good, but the New York variety are just out of this world.    I swear by Hamelman's version.   Others are very fond of the one in ITJB.   I think that an experienced baker like you who has done a lot of roll shaping and so forth won't have a lot of trouble.    It took me quite awhile to get comfortable with bagel making.   In my opinion the shaping is the hardest part.    Ciril Hitz has a great video on youtube.   He suggests the dog bone approach (leave the ends puffy) while Hamelman says taper the ends.    I suscribe to dogbone.   Also I think 9 inches is perfect for a 4 oz bagel as opposed to 11-12, which gives you too much overlap.   Have a great trip and good luck with the bagels.  

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Thank you, Varda! : )  I have about a 1/4 jar of the barley malt syrup Eden Organic..refrigerated and the expiration date says 12/12.  I've had it a long time..but guess it's still good.  In my stash in the frig I also have a full bag of KA diastatic malt powder..so I'll order some flour this evening.  That's the one's 'Montreal' bagels.  Do you like bagels with fruit in them..say like blueberries, cranberries?  Not very traditional though I guess?  I'll probably turn them into a scone or something :/  I'll check out CH bagels again on his video's..I have his books and video's..he's one of my favorite bakers..he keeps things simple for the home baker.

Sylvia

 

 

varda's picture
varda

I think it destroys the loft, and then what do you have?   A non-sweet donut.   That's just my opinion and others love their blueberry bagels.     A couple simplifications.   Run cold water over the bagel when it comes out of the boiling water - gently, gently - instead of an ice water bath.   It's just to complicated to put that bath together and keep it cold.    Also, I don't bother with bagel boards and flipping.   I just don't care if my bagels are a bit flattish on the bottom, and I don't want to lose my sesame seeds.   I'm sure for some people that's a show stopper.   Let me know how it goes.  -Varda

louie brown's picture
louie brown

that you put yourself out there, Varda. Teaching is another way of learning. You seem to understand that. The bagels look really good, too.

varda's picture
varda

Things went really smoothly because I figured out a step by step schedule and how long each step would take in advance, so there were no surprises.    Usually when I'm baking I'm in some kind of dream, so it was a change of pace to be super conscious of what I was doing.    Thanks so much for your comments.  -Varda

jcking's picture
jcking

You're just one classy dame!  :-)

Jim

varda's picture
varda

Thanks!  -Varda

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Varda,
Yum, doesn't a fresh sesame bagel sound wonderful.
I bet you've spoiled them for anything other than freshly-made bagels now.
Congratulations on your successful class - what a nice way to share your love of baking with others!
:^) breadsong

varda's picture
varda

It was really a lot of fun, and a new experience for me, as I've never done any teaching.   And what better to teach then something you love.  -Varda

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

So, we are having a brunch tomorrow, Sunday, and I wanted to make the bagels.  I had to make a Fairy Godmother Cake first then the grand kids came over wanting banana bread so I made a couple of those.  Then I started my bagels and they need a 10 hour cold retarded rise.  Therefore I will have to set my alarm for 3 AM boil them and bake them, go to sleep and wake up refreshed for the brunch.  At least I bought the lox and cream cheese (I made my own lactose free cream cheese during the week) and I cut up the fruit.  The bagels I make are from Saveur  Nov. 1998 pg. 128.  Should I post the recipe?  I did change three ingredients.  I'll see how they turn out.  It only makes 8.  I wish I could post pictures.  I need to ask the 10 year old kid next door how to do that.

varda's picture
varda

Do you have your pictures on your computer?  If so click on the little green icon at the top of the message window.   A window will pop up.   Click on the icon to the right of the words "image URL."  Another window will pop up.   You have to wait a bit until it loads.   Click on "upload" in the upper left corner.    Then click on "browse."   Then browse to your image location.    Then double click on the image you want to load.   Then click on "upload".   The image URL should load into the window.   Then double click on the image URL line.   That should load the URL into the first pop-up window.   Then click on "insert" in the first pop-up window.    Hope to see some of your pictures soon.  -Varda

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

Congratulations, Varda, on doing what you love and sharing it with others.  I've been teaching friends how to bake breads for awhile, and it's soul-satisfying.  It's a good idea to practice the recipe beforehand, I agree.  Your idea of rinsing the bagels with cold water after the hot bath is interesting.  I've prepared a bowl of ice water in the past and just dunked them in after the boil, but it never occurred to me to do that.  I think it does make a difference in halting the little rise you get from the boil.  My problem is that I like to top them with a lot of seeds, and, if I freeze them, the seeds tend to drop away (I make a mix of b & w sesame, poppy, fennel, flax seeds with a bit of coarse sea salt from the grinder).  Maybe it would help to brush on a little egg white?  Anyway, keep teaching and baking!  I've got a class baking the old-school deli rye coming up this week.  Fun, fun, fun!

Joyful

varda's picture
varda

It seems like they do need some cooling, but an ice water bath always made too much of a mess and the water gets too warm for the next batch.    You could try the rinsing method and see if it works for you.   My tap water gets very cold.    Great that you have a rye class soon.   Teaching about rye sour would be a whole thing in itself.   Thanks so much for your comments.  -Varda

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

My barley malt turned black as molasses and with the use of 2 tbsp to the dough the bagels were black too.  I went out and bought bagels for my company. When I showed them my attempts at bagels, they loved them toasted.  They were crisp on the outside and soft and nicely textured inside.  So, I guess they were not a total failure.

varda's picture
varda

busy day.   Glad that your guests enjoyed the bagels.  -Varda

sweetbird's picture
sweetbird

That must have been such a fun day for you and your students! Choosing bagels for your class seems brilliant, because everybody loves them but not everybody has tasted the real thing and even fewer have baked them. Having eaten lots of NY bagels in my day, I can say that yours look like the real thing!

The way you structured your class was the same way Dan Leader structured the sourdough class I took from him at ICE in NY. He arrived in the morning with filone dough just about ready to bake so that we could shape, score and bake it, and also had leaven ready for us to mix a Genzano that we took home with us to bake later. We baked the filone and took the warm loaves out of the oven in time to enjoy them for lunch. They were soooooooooooo delicious.

I've toyed with the idea of doing some teaching and your post has perked up the idea again in my mind. Thank you!

Janie

varda's picture
varda

I think the two batch approach is the only way to teach something that has an overnight component to it.   I heard from a couple people that they were able to boil and bake the bagel they started during the class the next morning.   I wasn't really sure if that part would work.   Interested to hear if you do decide to do some teaching.   -Varda