The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Science of Hamelman's...

RebelBakingCompany's picture

The Science of Hamelman's...

Hamelman's bagel...I fell in love with the technique: slow refrigerator ferment (right word?)...IMMEDIATELY into boiling water...then ice...then super hot oven....

It really improved my bagels...but I'm wondering...what's the science behind this?

The benefit of cold dough into boiling water and then ICING IT?

Then chilled, wet dough into a super hot oven?


Can someone explain what's happening inside?

Thank you!

LindyD's picture

  Yup, Mr. Hamelman's bagel formula sure is the simplest and fastest method when compared to others out there.  Mix, bulk ferment, shape, and into the refrigerator to be retarded overnight. I also think it's the most authentic in taste and texture (so long as you use high-gluten flour).

The ice bath slows down the expansion of the dough so you can finish boiling the batch and get them all into the oven before the bagels collapse.  

Mr. Hamelman notes in the second edition of Bread that the ice water bath isn't necessary if you've made a quantity that fits into one oven load (and move at the speed of light).  That will never happen in my kitchen.

PeterS's picture

My two cents--which I typed as LindyD was hitting <enter>

The boiling water is just a treatment which gelatinizes the surface of the dough to make it chewy. It also aids browning (but not as much as an alkalai wash). Warming the dough would take time and probably not make an appreciable difference.

Boiling will kill the yeast on the surface, but anywheres near the surface where the temperature does not exceed 110-120°F, the yeast will be going great guns. Cooling will quench this activity preventing excessive gassing.


dabrownman's picture

guessing Hamelman went on vacation to Sweden or Norway where he could play Sven the Scandinavian going from the masage table to a nice nap, to a hot jacuzzi, to an ice cold one, then into a steaming sauna and finally to a dry hot one to finish off.    A little red light went off in his head as he was drying off where his previous failed bagel baking attempts came to mind immediately and the solution was complete, powerful and fortunate for the rest of us. 

Or, maybe it was the other way around.  Scandinavians might have been so pleased with the bagels they made from Hamelman's formula that they thought this process would to be good for the body and soul as well.  Hamelman's formula would have to have been around much longer though, maybe a couple thousand years for this to be true :-)  

LindyD's picture

Dan DiMuzio, author of Bread Baking, an Artisan's Perspective, made some good comments on the ice bath in an earlier thread:

LOL, got to test Mike Avery's advice about bagels sticking to the parchment a couple of weeks ago, when I forgot to oil the parchment.  It works.  

CJRoman's picture

So the ice water shuts down the process temporarily...allowing you to get the rest in the water. great idea!

What about the theory behind putting COLD dough into the hot water??

In other breads, I've been told to take the dough out of the fridge....bring to room temp...then bake....

LindyD's picture

Since the bagels have been retarded for about 10-12 hours, they go from the refrigerator into the boiling water (laced with barley malt syrup).  The yeast (1.3%) immediately wakes up and the bagels puff up and float.  After 45 seconds, into the ice bath, then into a 500F oven with the rest of the lot.  There's no need to warm the dough since it's ready to be baked.  I think bringing the dough to room temp would result in flat bagels.  The formula makes a baker's dozen, so while working with the first batch, I always keep the second batch refrigerated until the first six have been baked.   Have never had a failure or a flat bagel.