Lye bath sourdough bagels
I finally got around to purchasing a container of food grade lye . I had tried to find info on lye baths for bagels but there is very little out there and the percent of lye to water that was used seemed way off. I am glad that I pursued this and have some data that I hope will help others. I purchased the lye on Amazon here  . Will likely last me a good long while. I used 5 grams in 1 gallon of filtered tap water. This is approx. 12-12.5 % alkalinity. Baking soda is only 9 if fully saturated so can't get the water where I wanted it to optimize the crust . I will use a bit more next time and get it up to the full 14% that is possible if fully saturated. . I am VERY pleased with how these came out. I added the lye to the cold water and brought it to a boil. Just to be on the safe side ( my husband is a chemist and insisted) I wore goggles and had some vinegar in a dish off to the side to neutralize any splash on the skin. I had no problems.
I bathed the bagels for 10 seconds on a side...lifted out and drained, replaced on the sheet pan dusted with semolina where they had retarded. I baked them as always in 400 degree oven approx 22 min. rotated pans at the 1/2. Formula I use is here . I used whey instead of water as I had a lot from my kefir cheese making. I also used half white and half rye starter.
The crust is amazing. So crisp. Beautiful blisters and a nice glow to the crust. Perfect chewy crumb. Lovely fragrance. Any residue of lye is hydrolyzed by the proteins in the bagel dough and is neutralized so you don't need to worry about rinsing the bagels after dipping.
Here are some pics.