The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Question for the Bagel Bakers

gerryp123's picture

Question for the Bagel Bakers

Trying to bake a "NY bagel".  Almost there except for too thick a crust and a bit chewey.

What causes the crust of a (commercial yeast) bagel to be too thick?  Too much Barley Malt Syrup or Baking Soda in the poaching liquid?  Poaching the shaped dough for too long (60 sec on first side, then 30 sec on other side?)

How do I change the crust to be a pleasant crunch?

wheatbeat's picture

I'm not sure a bagel is the best bread to try to have a thin crispy crust on. The whole point of a bagel is that it has a thick chewy crust with a dense chewy crumb. You will never get a thin crispy crust if you boil it.

Also, I'm not sure why you are putting baking soda in the boiling water. 

texas_loafer's picture


gerryp123's picture

I realize bagels should be chewy, but the crust on my bagels seems excessively tough to chew.  Looking for a way to temper (but not eliminate) this. 

The baking soda addition to the poaching liquid (similar to the once popular addition of lye) speeds up the Maillard reaction, which creates that deep brown thick crust and distinctive flavor you find in NYC bagels.   Perhaps I should try without the baking soda ?


SheGar's picture

What flour are you using? I would go with lower protein for less chewy

Nickisafoodie's picture

Gerry, many of the commercial bakery things that pass for bagels are never boiled, just baked.  Boiling does give a chewy crust, which is characteristic of a true NY style. 

One thing that I always fount to be helpful is leveraging the knowledge of many experienced bakers on this site.  In the upper right corner, you will see a search box.  Type in bagels and you will find tons of info, recipes, pictures, formulas, length of boiling time, bagel boards when using seeds, and more.  And failures. Too many to list.   Hope this is helpful! 

Cheers and good luck!

ciabatta's picture

Jeffrey Hamelman did an episode on Bagels recently for King Arthur Flour's Isolation Baking series on YouTube.  He uses water and malt syrup.

recipe here:


BethJ's picture

In theory, the longer the boil, the thicker and chewier crust.  Try reducing your boil on the first side to 30 seconds and see if there are any notable changes.

gerryp123's picture

I'll reduce the boil to 30 sec each side.

Also I not add baking soda to the boil -- just a bit of Barley Malt Syrup and salt.

We''ll see,

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

I have not tried my hand at bagels yet.  With that being said, though, when making changes to either your recipe or your procedures, you should aim for just making one change at a time, in order to be able to pinpoint what actually works and what doesn’t.  I would keep the baking soda for now, and adjust the boiling time instead, noting what change happens, if any.  If that doesn’t work, try eliminating the baking soda next time.