The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BBA bagels troubleshooting

Susanmarie's picture

BBA bagels troubleshooting

Hi, all.  Today is my first try with the BBA bagel recipe, and bagels in general.  I used all the ingredients exactly as he indicates.  They came out kind of flat and bumpy with a not-dense crumb, more like a lean bread.  My house was between 62-65 yesterday so I let them proof for 1 hour instead of 20 minutes on the counter before refrigerating.  I think (hope) this was what caused these results.  Has anyone had this experience or does anyone have an opinion about what the problem was ? How long should I let them proof next time in the same temp house?  Do I even need to adjust proofing times for only a 10 degree difference?   ALSO, when he says overnight, what is the shortest time you would use?   Thank you!


bwraith's picture


My experience has been that you almost can't do it all fast enough. Whatever time it takes to knead and shape is plenty long enough at anything close to room temperature if you do it quickly. Same when you take them out the next day. I found it took very little time for them to be light enough to float in the boiling water, especially if I wasn't quick getting them into the refrigerator. I've always done the shaping at night and the boiling and bagels in the morning, so I don't know how short or long you can go with the refrigeration. Also, high gluten flour with at least some first clear flour added seems to be a good flour to use. Another hint is to make the dough extraordinarily dry and stiff. The hydration is low, like around 53-58%, depending on the flour.

I have a couple of blog entries on bagels I did at ( Although most of these entries include a sourdough component, the process is the same.

Susanfnp did some very nice sourdough bagels based on a recipe in Nancy Silverton's book, which is what got me going with bagels. I can't remember if she blogged it or if it is in a thread, but you can probably find her bagel recipe on this site. Also, elagins (Stan) has some very informative discussion of bagels on the site you could probably find by searching.


Henry's picture



I wanted to learn how to make bagels so back in 1998 I got a job in a Jewish bakery that at the time were known for making a pretty good product.

They'd always be voted best bagel, best cinnamon bun and best challah.

I lasted exactly six weeks.

I wanted to learn hand shaping but bagels are mostly made by machine, unless you live in Quebec, but I live in Vancouver.

Flour 100%, water 50 –58%, salt 2%, yeast 1 ½ %.

You want to end up with a pretty stiff dough.

Dough temperature should be about 75 - 75F.

Can’t get high gluten flour?

Bread flour is fine. 

This place also added sugar. 3%

I thought it was a good bagel.

(I found, making them at home, they’re better without the sugar.)

Knead the dough to full development and it’s a short ferment, 20 minutes... mostly because in a business shop, fermenting longer means losing money. 

(I ferment for an hour at home usually because I'm doing errands or going for a walk)

Scaled at 130 gms (just over four ounces), let the dough relax, and then have fun shaping.

My bagels look just okay, shaping could improve.

They proofed for an hour or so at room temp (not a controlled environment, so if the room is cool proof longer; shorter if warm) and then into the fridge.

Sat in there for a couple of hours mostly because we were doing other things.

Then we …froze them.

Yup, froze them.

The morning or day that you’re ready to bake, and here’s the real convenience factor, the bagels go straight from the freezer into the boiling water. (we did not add malt syrup or honey to the water)

Poach till they float, turn them over and poach a little longer (seconds more); rinse them off in cold water (some people use ice water).

Now, lightly brush a screen with oil, put the screen on a sheet pan, put your bagels on top of the screen and bake until you feel they are done.

It’s only a matter of time before the neighbors start pounding on your door, demanding bagels.



Vancouver Canada

Sean's picture

The one hour proofing is probably the problem. I made a batch of bagels, left them to proof, then got distracted by something shiny and forgot about them. They proofed for about an hour, just like yours. And sure enough, they came out flat and bumpy, just like yours.

The good news was that my wife still thought they were delicious.

Like bwraith, I make the bagels in the evening then boil them in the morning. I either make a half-batch from BBA or mix the dough Friday night and boil half Saturday morning and half Sunday morning. Leftovers last us until Tuesday or Wednesday.

merrybaker's picture

I love Reinhart's books and recipes, but I don't like his bagels at all. Try Beranbaum's recipe from The Bread Bible. Now that's a bagel!

jkandell's picture

By your description you overproofed them letting them sit an hour instead of 20 minutes.  If you want to leave them an hour you've got to cut the yeast in half.

tommy d's picture
tommy d

tommy d

as soon as ur done forming the bagels stick them in fridge and let proof in there for 18-24 hours

bikergrl's picture

I have a delicious bagel recipe but I do have one problem. Every time I make them, a few of the bagels come out extremely doughy and wet while the rest cook fine! I can't figure out what the difference is from one to the next. My dough is stiff, I boil them for 20-30 seconds each side, and they're all baked exactly the same. Any ideas?