The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rising of Bagels Made Using Starter

bringonthebread's picture

Rising of Bagels Made Using Starter

I have made bagels before but this is my first time making bagels using sourdough starter rather than commercial yeast.  My dough was incredibly dense, did not rise, and did not follow the float test as I would have suspected.

I used rossnroller's recipe posted here:

I followed the ingredient list and instructions, but I swapped out some of the white flour with 130 grams of rye flour. I used Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Dark Rye Flour. I used a mixer to make the dough.  The dough was very stiff and dense.  I tried the windowpane test but got nothing.  Perhaps, I could have hand kneaded instead of using the mixer. 

I let the dough ferment for 5 hours at room temperature after mixing, expecting it to double but it didn't at all.  Then, I placed it in the refrigerator overnight.  It didn't change at all when I took it out of the fridge in the morning.  I placed one of the yet-to-be-cooked bagels in a bowl of water to see if it would float but it did not.  The same is true when I placed it in boiling water.  

Here's a photo of the dough prior to baking:

I don't know why my dough did not rise.  My sourdough starter was in good shape.  I fed it 5 hours before mixing and it had doubled as expected.  So, I suspect that the rye flour is the culprit.   I know that rye flour is prone to having a dense, cake like structure, so that may have interfered with the dough's ability to form gluten.  If its not the rye flour, it could be the lack of proper kneading for gluten development.

Luckily, the flavor of the bagel was excellent, but the texture could have been better.

Bagels After Baking:

Bagel Crumb

My questions:

1) Is it necessary for the bagel dough to float in water especially considering that I used starter rather than commmercial yeast?

2) What was the problem with this batch and what could I do next time to improve the rise of the dough?  

3) What is the max amount of rye flour that could be in the dough?

dabrownman's picture

and your crumb doesn't look too bad.  I have gone up to 40% whole grain, multi-grain no problem and 20% rye.  My mixer won't knead this dough at such low hydration.  Have to knead it by hand but after a little bit it isn't too bad.  I use a NY Style bagel recipe by Stan Ginsberg and it has no oil in it.  I don't think oil is traditional but it should make the dough easier to knead and the crumb softer.  5 hours is  very long counter proof before refrigerating.  I might do and hour in the winter only. 

I make a little dough ball for float testing,  If it doen't float right out of the fridge, back in it goes and if it doesn't float after 18 hours of cold, something is wrong and I take the bagels out of the fridge with the dough ball and keep testing till it does float.  Ross has a newer post with much better looking bagels too.  His recipe might have changed.

Happy baking.

embth's picture

I give my bagel dough a 20-30 "bulk rise/rest" then shape it and refrigerated it.   I follow Reinhart's basic recipe and from there have made a variety of flavors including a part rye flour bagel.   I believe the recipe calls for an hour at room temperature but it is usually past 11 pm by the time I am shaping the bagels.  A 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast would perhaps help your dough in case your starter was not quite as active as you hoped.

bringonthebread's picture

danthebrownman, thanks for replying.  Do you think dough can overproof if left to sit out that long?  I figured it wouldn't overproof so easily considering that it has starter rather than commercial yeast.  I checked Ross' post but he didn't seem to make any changes to the recipe.


UPDATE:   I sectioned off the bagels into two batches.  The first batch was baked immediately after I removed the dough from the fridge (this is what was discussed in my first post of this thread).  The second batch was left out at room temperature for about 2 hours.  I placed them in the boiling water, they sunk at first, then they floated after a few seconds.  The finished product was noticeably larger in size and lighter than the first batch.  The crumb was noticeably more open and less dense.  So, I guess I learned quite a bit.  The dough needed to ferment longer after I removed it from the refrigerator.  So, my new questions are: Is there a recommended time of fermentation for bagel dough that uses sourdough starter?  How much is too much?


Bagel Batch Comparison


Batch 2 Bagel Crumb



holds99's picture

Hamelman's formula, in his book Bread, produces excellent bagels.  In addition to bagels Hamelman's book is a classic containing great bread formulas for many different types of bread.  The first 90 pages of the book discusses in detail the 11 steps of baking, providing an essential guide to the systematic process of baking.