The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Attempt in the Reco Bagel Baker

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andychrist's picture
andychrist

First Attempt in the Reco Bagel Baker

The Reco/Romertopf Bagel Baker I scored on eBay was delivered just in time to go in the oven and pre-heat while I shaped, let rise, and boiled the bagel rounds that I had previously prepared from an apple & beet SD rye levain boosted with cherry raisin YW to which was added AP, BF, VWG, caraway, fennel, coriander and dill, and of course molasses and salt. I don't keep cornmeal so just covered the freshly boiled rounds in as much poppy and sesame as would stick. Immediately after plopping them in the Romertopf I lowered the temp from 500 to 400 degrees, baked for 15 minutes on one side, 10 on the other.  Think I could have gotten away with just leaving them in the Baker for 20 minutes without flipping, they seemed to have baked evenly at the 15 minute interval. Also ordered a NOS Bagel Baker from another vendor that should be arriving tomorrow; hope that one comes with the instructions because I can't find any online.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Thanks for the review, keep us updated on your progress

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

Well, they look good. I admire you going to all that effort for four bagels. I find bagels such a faff that I always make huge batches and freeze them. Do you think that you got a better bagel in the end? Quite interested in this as I love my clay baker, (and I love bagels), but a loaf of sourdough is a very different texture to a bagel. Is it all to do with the uncovering part way or not. I am guessing to keep the softer texture of the bagel, it needs to be covered throughout the bake?

andychrist's picture
andychrist

as the used Bagel Baker that was delivered first did not come with any instructions.  So I left the lid on throughout the bake, save for the one minute after the first fifteen when I was flipping all the bagels (which I'm pretty sure now was unnecessary, as they appeared identical top and bottom at the time.) In total they were in the Romertopf for 25 minutes, which was probably too long as the crusts came out a bit tougher and crisper than I would have liked. Either that or they could have been baked at a lower temperature, have no idea what is ideal for the Baker. But the supposedly unused Romertopf is scheduled for delivery today, from the photo in eBay it should be coming with the instruction booklet so am hoping that will set me straight.

It wasn't such a big deal just to bake the four bagels, especially as I was able to reserve two thirds of my dough future use. Once I get my mitts on the additional Bagel Baker I'll be able to bake eight at one time, for about two pounds worth of bagels. Anyway, the whole enterprise of whipping up these four satisfied my goals of experimentation with a few methods I had never had the opportunity to combine before. Aside from the new to me Baker, this was also my first use of the Presto on bagel dough. Also, was my first attempt ever at leavening a [sour]dough with home brewed yeast water, which I concocted with raisins and sour cherry solution left over from all my volcanoes. Not a very well controlled experiment I must admit, juggling so many variables. But as I didn't yet have a recipe geared specifically to the Romertopf, had to play it all by ear based on a conglomeration of whatever instructions I could find that meshed with ingredients and equipment at hand. Nice thing about the Bagel Baker at least is that it guarantees rounded bottoms, if nothing else. Dunno what difference there might be with the SD, think the defining texture of a bagel comes more from the boiling than the baking, though yeah the latter is not unimportant . Oh well, nobody died this time and the place did not burn down, so guess you could say the experiment was a success? 

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

It sounds successful, please update when you get your second baker. I am guessing I could use my doughnut tin in the same way, although I am sure the clay baker will give a better result, but I haven't yet found a good baked doughnut recipe! At least it could be put to use making bagels.

andychrist's picture
andychrist

because there is, or at least used to be, a joint here in the States that made fried bagels, think they were called fragels. So that would have been a cross with doughnuts, which always seemed an obvious mutation to me but apparently nobody else ever did it, at least not commercially that I know of. Yes your doughnut tin would have the same advantage as the Bagel Bager in retaining a toroidal shape to the dough.  Won't benefit from the same thermal mass as the clay baker, though I'm not sure that is of any benefit in the end. Seems that the uncooked bagel rounds get their spring in the boiling water, which also pretty much sets their crust too, so I doubt that throwing them even into a 500°F covered Baker later on is going to improve upon what ever little rise is still left in them. Again, haven't tried my recipe any other way so have no real grounds for comparison, just my own observations. Am sure you are much more versed in the art! 

So tell me, Bakingmadtoo, how do you bake your bagels— at what temperatures, and for how long?  Also, how long do you boil them first on each side? (I shot for under a minute per side myself, forgot to mention that earlier.) Thanks!

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

I would have to find my recipe out, I can't honestly remember, I haven't made any for a couple of years. I should remember having made them every fortnight for several years, but that was before I got seriously interested in baking. I just used to boil them until they puffed up then flipped them over for a few more seconds. I am fairly sure that would have been well under a minute each side. I am guessing your texture preferences would come into play too. I think you are right that most of the spring happens in the water, although I used to find they rose a bit more in the oven. I will try and dig out the recipe. I suppose I should have another go now I understand things a bit better. 

andychrist's picture
andychrist

The bagels do rise a bit more in the oven even after they get all that spring from the boiling water. And I found it doesn't take more than a minute each side too — though I've come across one (New York style) recipe that says to immerse them for six minutes total apiece.  Funny how many different "authentic" recipes there are for the same comestible.

The other NOS Bagel Baker just arrived and it has the instructions from Reco. They say to boil the bagels 1 1/2 minutes per side and to soak the Romertopf for ten minutes before setting them in it and baking at 450F for 45 to 55 minutes. Wow that sounds like a long time but then the clay is all wet and you don't pre-heat anything. So probably about the same length of time that I had the oven on all together when I did my test batch with a pre-heat.

Guess I'll try following Reco's instructions to a T next time I bake, see what happens. Thanks again for the input.

NatureWins's picture
NatureWins

Hi andychrist, I am getting ready to experiment with the Reco Bagel Baker. I have the original instructions from Reco but it makes very little sense to me to bake the bagels for 45-55 minutes, then having to wait until the baker cools down, re-soak it and start all over... Your first method sounds a lot more sensible and practical to me... Since I am assuming you've tried both methods by now, I was wondering what your suggestion is.  My idea would be to heat the Bagel Baker for 30 minutes to 450 degrees, then put in the boiled bagels and bake covered for about 20 minutes, remove them when done and repeat putting in more boiled bagels... Also, do you pre-soak or not the baker before heating it in the oven? Thank you in advance for your help!

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Well the one time I followed Recco's instructions and soaked the Bagel Baker prior to loading into a cold oven, my bagels did not get any oven spring and actually kinda shrank and wrinkled a bit. But in all honesty they might have been over proofed or over boiled that time as well, was baking entirely from SD so was a bit tricky. Agree, if you have more than one batch to prepare it is way too time consuming to proceed as directed, better to do as you describe and preheat the BB and cut down baking time. In which case you would not want to soak the Baker; it would only take longer to preheat, and the water would all be evaporated by the time it was ready for your bagels anyway.

Though as long as you are doing two batches, NW, it might be worth experimenting by following Recco's directions on the first one and soaking the BB, then doing the next one [pre]heated and dry. That way you'd get a feel for both methods without the extra wait between batches. Two birds, one stone. :)

Am eagerly awaiting news of your results!

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Is that the joint you referenced? They had a special machine to spin them and cook them and coat with cinnamon sugar. Mmmm

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Yeah David, that was the place, MD Bagel Fragel, in Ann Arbor MI. Never been to it myself, but a friend of mine who grew up in Michigan and went to school there used to rave about fragels all the time. Even went as far as trying to get a franchise but they told him to beat it. Have deep fried bagels myself a couple of times and must admit they come out even better that way than in the oven. Just that it takes so much cooking oil and I hate the clean up.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Well, the Fragle was born and raised at the Bagle Factory and I enjoyed a few while in school. At that time, (early 90s), it was located smack in the middle of central campus.  I guess they did sell out, to MD Bagle. 

They were good enough that I enjoued even though I did tone cinnamon raisin bagels. Apparently, frying does make everything better. :)

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Okay, then the Factory must have been the place my friend went to for fragels, he was a student at Ann Arbor during the late seventies. Didn't realize it had changed, thanks.

NatureWins's picture
NatureWins

Thank you for your suggestion, andychrist. I did exactly what you suggested. The first 4 bagels, using Reco's instructions did not get much oven spring, the following 4, which went in the preheated baker were better. Even thought they all stuck to the bottom and did not cook evenly at the bottom. I ended up cooking the remaining 4 for 15 minutes at 450F On a pizza stone and they came out perfect... superior to the bagel baker (In larticular to the first batch starting from a cold, pre-soaked baker)... I made sure the bagels weren't overproofed by removing sets of 4 from the refrigerator at different times, giving them equal rising time... So, I am not so sure it's worth going through all the trouble of using the bagel baker When i could bake a whole batch at the same time on a pizza stone!  I couldn't do without a Romertopf for my sourdough bread, but I am not sure I'll be using again for bagels... I wonder if Reco stopped producing the BB because it wasn't the most practical and the results weren't worth the effort... Thanks again for your input, it's so helpful to share suggestions and ideas with fellow bakers!!!

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Yeah NatureWins, seems the Bagel Baker does not offer any advantage other than perfectly rounded bottoms — which I admit is nothing to sneer at. Think perhaps it would perform better at a lower temperature, say 350°, maybe 375°F. Baked a couple batches myself last night and had similar results to yours. But at least this time I knew to place the BB on an insulated baking sheet to lessen the scorching/sticking, plus I dusted the bottoms of the boiled rings with corn meal quite generously, so they turned out more easily than before. Gonna keep experimenting, maybe even try a batch leavened with commercial yeast rather than sourdough, just to see if it makes any difference. Thanks for sharing your experiences here too, really appreciate it!