The Fresh Loaf

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LindyD's picture


"A bagel is a round bread made of simple, elegant ingredients: high-gluten flour, salt, water, yeast and malt. Its dough is boiled, then baked, and the result should be a rich caramel color; it should not be pale and blond. A bagel should weigh four ounces or less and should make a slight cracking sound when you bite into it instead of a whoosh. A bagel should be eaten warm and, ideally, should be no more than four or five hours old when consumed. All else is not a bagel."

So wrote Ed Levine in The New York Times.  Having tasted (and baked) various bagels,  the elegant simplicity of Jeffrey Hamelman's formula, both in ingredients and technique, perfectly fits Levine's description.

Prep time is about ten minutes to scale the ingredients and complete the calculations for the desired dough temperature (76F).   Figure another couple minutes to very lightly oil two sheets of parchment (wiping off any excess oil), which are then placed on two baking sheets.  This is your insurance policy to make sure your bagels won't stick to the parchment after the retarding period.  BTW, these two sheets can be used over and over again.  Just let them dry out before storing them and lightly re-oil before using again.

The dough is then mixed for three minutes to incorporate the five ingredients, then five to six more minutes in a stand or planetary mixer.

Now, about mixers.   Over the past year I've been using my KA Artisan mixer to mix this 58- percent hydration dough.   It easily handled the first three minutes of mixing at speed one,  but began to heat up during the second mixing stage at speed two.  I resorted to strapping an ice pack on top of the mixer to keep it cool and even shut it down for a few minutes if I thought the mixer was straining too much.  That worked and my KA Artisan has survived mixing 30 pounds of Sir Lancelot high gluten flour for bagels, but I've paid very close attention to it every minute of the mix.  

Not wanting to push my luck any further because my KA grain mill and food grinder attachments are important tools, last month I found a Bosch compact stand mixer for sale.   After mixing two batches of bagels, I remain amazed that the little Bosch (which I can hold in one hand) doesn't even get warm while mixing this very stiff dough.  


Once the dough is mixed, it is bulk fermented for one hour, then divided into 13 (a baker's dozen) four-ounce pieces (roughly 112 grams).  Each piece is rolled into a log shape with blunt ends to a length of 10 to 11 inches.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video worth a million or more, here's a link to a great video by Ciril Hitz demonstrating the same shaping method described in Hamelman's Bread.

It takes about a minute to divide, weigh, and shape each bagel.  Divide the 13 bagels between your two lightly oiled parchment sheets, bag the pans or cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least six hours or overnight.  I prefer at least 12 hours.  Retarding is important because it slows down the fermentation of the dough and encourages lactic acid to develop, as well as that lovely crust.  The bagels remain in the refrigerator until you are ready to boil and bake them.

The next morning preheat your oven (and stone) to 500F and add three to four inches of water to a large pot, which will be brought to a boil.   While waiting for the oven to preheat, assemble a large bowl to contain ice water, a plate and cake rack to hold the bagels after their ice bath, a spider or slotted spoon, and another plate to catch any droplets of malted water as you move the bagels from the boiling water to the ice bath. You'll also need a couple sheets of parchment and your peel.


Add enough barley malt syrup to the water (before it begins to boil) so that it's the color of dark tea.  Once the water is at a rolling boil, dump a tray of ice cubes into the large bowl and add water.  Remove one tray of bagels from the refrigerator, uncover, and place two or three in the boiling water for around 45 seconds.   They'll pop right up and float.  The syrup adds a touch of sweetness and color; boiling begins to gelatinize the starch and creates the glossy crust, but boiling too long (some authorities say a minute is too long; others say two minutes) can cause the dough to collapse or  develop patches of yellowed, thickened crust.   

Remove the bagels from the boling water and immediately place in the ice water bath to chill for a couple of minutes. I don't use bagel boards, so I move the chilled bagels to the cake rack for about a minute, then to the parchment on my peel (after adding toppings, if any).   Once all the bagels from that batch have been boiled, chilled, and moved to the parchment covered peel, into the oven they go for 15 to 18 minutes.  Proceed with the final batch and enjoy while still warm.

The results: authentic, elegant bagels that even Ed Levine would love.



This recipe is my first bake of The Bread Challenge

jrcharter's picture

Hello all.  Two years ago I was diagnosed with having a gluten allergy, or what is more commonly known as a wheat allergy, or Celiac's disease.  NO MORE Sourdough bread?    Time to go jump in the ocean.  So, I found some "sourdough" bread mixes, done gluten free.  Expensive and really dry.  Lots of Tapioca flour used, which in reality is a starch.  What to do?  Well, either keep buying bad bread for about $8 bucks a loaf or become a bread baker/chemist.

My breads have been tasty, have bend, but are peasant breads, heavy with little rise.  I use a sourdough starter and feed it Lecithan, ascorbic acid and ginger mix, and it has been okay, but does not cause the bread to rise much.

Since my goal is a gluten-free, taste-filled, fluffy loaf with a crisp sourdough crust, I have a ways to go, but will keep on trying.  If anyone has any information to make my chemisty experiment a sucess, let me know. 


Keep on baking!  Rene.

louie brown's picture
louie brown

I lost track of the hydration of this loaf. It is somewhere between 85 and 90%. Prefermented flour (KA ap and a touch of Bob's Red Mill light rye) and water was added to a 100% starter. The dough was "folded" three times at 45 minute intervals, then fermented in bulk for about another 2.5 hours at about 75 - 80 degrees. It was then poured out onto a bed of rice and wheat flour, "shaped" by folding on itself in thirds, and quickly moved to a floured couche, where it proofed for about 2.5 hours more. At this point, the dough was very delicate. It was very gently flipped onto a piece of parchment, loaded and baked at 500 degrees, the first 15 minutes under a stainless steel bowl. The finished loaf had a height of about an inch and a half. The crust was crispy and not too thick. The crumb was very translucent and springy, with a honeycomb effect that brought to mind the Japanese baguettes of which we have seen photos. The taste was mild, with a slight tang.

Thanks to bwraith for his posts on sourdough ciabatta.





submitted to yeastspotting.

breadinquito's picture

Morning everyone, in the last few days here in Quito the temp dropped to a max of 19 (outside) and as a consequence, my starter looks like a drunk person doesn't want to "wake up"...suggestions appreciated...thanks in advance. Paolo

SydneyGirl's picture

I recently re-discovered bread baking and was so exicted to find this website.

Moved to Australia from Germany almost 30 years ago. After first discovering with shock that there was NO BREAD to buy in 1980's Sydney, my father quickly built a wood fired oven and my mother picked up with bread baking right where she left off when we moved from Transylvania to Germany 11 years earlier. Since then she has made 6-7 loaves per week of sourdough bread (with potatoes) almost every week. She still does it, even though it's now much easier to find "acceptable bread" (for a German) than it was. While I've made bread quite a few times in the past (like before she had the commercial mixer and her back ache prevented her from kneading a big trough of dough), there really wasn't any need for me to bake!

However, I really love home made bread and love to tinker. I had bought Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible a while ago. With too much going on, it just languished in a bookshelf till I picked it up in a reading lull recently. Even then I was reading, not making. The real catalyst was going to Ikea and picking up a packet of bread mix (no, I'm not kidding). And that set me off on more reading, browsing and joining fora, like this one. I bet you not many of the members here can say they came this site by way of Ikea! I can't wait to try out everything... 

Floydm's picture

Today was the first time since before the Haiti earthquake that I was able to bake much of anything. 

Today's breads

I baked a three seed sourdough (poppy, sesame, and flax) and an Italian bread (a pinch of yeast, some sourdough starter, and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil).  Both batches turned out very well and my starter proved to be amazingly resilient.

BTW, remember the fundraising tool I was working on for Mercy Corps that community members here helped test back in the fall?  It got written up in the NY Times a couple of months ago.  Thank you again to everyone who helped with it.  It has been a tremendous success and helped fund a lot of excellent projects we are doing in Haiti.   

dmsnyder's picture


It has been a few weeks since I last made my San Joaquin Sourdough. I had become so enamored of breads made with the Gérard Rubaud flour mix, I was starting to wonder if I would still like the flavor of the San Joaquin Sourdough as much as I had. Well, I do.

Yesterday, I made the breads with a 73% hydration dough and divided it into two 250 gm ficelles and one (approximately) 500 gm bâtard.





Wt. (gms)

Baker's %

Active starter (75% hydration



WFM 365 Organic AP flour



BRM Dark Rye flour











  1. The night before baking, feed the starter at 1:3:4 ratio of seed starter: water: flour.
  2. Mix all the ingredients and allow to rest, covered for 20-60 minutes.
  3. Stretch and fold in the bowl for 30 strokes, three times at 30 minute intervals.
  4. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover.
  5. After another 30 minute rest, stretch and fold on a lightly floured board. Replace in the bowl and cover.
  6. Rest for 30 minutes, then repeat the stretch and fold, and replace the dough in the bowl.
  7. Refrigerate the dough for 21hours.
  8. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and immediately divide and pre-shape it. Cover the dough with plasti-crap or a towel and let it rest for 60 minutes.
  9. One hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500ºF, with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.
  10. Shape the loaves as desired and place on a floured couche. Cover the loaves.
  11. Proof for 45 minutes.
  12. Pre-steam the oven. Transfer the loaves to a peel. Score them as desired and transfer them to the baking stone. Steam the oven.
  13. Turn down the oven to 460ºF and bake for 12 minutes. Then remove the steam source.
  14. Continue to bake until the loaves are done. (20 minutes for the ficelles. 30 minutes for the bâtard.)
  15. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.


The crust was nice and crunchy, and the crumb was pleasantly chewy. The flavor was wonderful, as always. There is no perceptible rye flavor, but the rye adds to the overall flavor complexity. This batch had more of a sourdough tang than usual, which we like.


Submitted to YeastSpotting

hansjoakim's picture

Better late than never, right?

I've been out of the loop for a little while, but I've still been baking. This week I have slowly worked my way through the flaxseed rye shown below, based on Hamelman's flaxseed rye from Modern Baking (link here to recipe here). I prefer to bake it as a pure sourdough, so the final proof is extended by approx. 50% compared to the original recipe. I've savoured the loaf with slices of brie, smoked ham or fish.

Flaxseed rye with old bread


On Friday, I spotted some of the season's first strawberries at my local market, and I simply couldn't resist:


Delicious early-spring treat! ...and would you believe it? The snow's almost all gone here now! :D (<-- happy grin)

Raisin buns is a perfect snack to pack along for upcoming hikes:

Raisin buns

Mebake's picture

I baked this boule last week end.

As always, i have learned few thing from this bake:

1 - Never Underestimate the significance of Weighing Salt.

2 - Handling Fermented dough as if a new born baby, during inverting onto the baking stone / surface

3- For my gas oven: always switch the top elements on after 10 minutes of covered baking, as the bottom gets charred way before the top is browned.

4 - Always give the natural yeats time to do their work, hasting them with commercial yeast will reduce flavor.

5 - Never forget to place a parchment, i had a near escape due to the proper gluten development.

Other than that, the loaf tasted good, soft and airy. It was 50% Whote bread flour, and 50% Hard White mixed with Red Winter. Overall hydration was 70%.

ryeaskrye's picture

I have a fondness for rosemary. Having an Austrian heritage with a splash of Irish thrown in, I also have an innate predilection for potatoes.

Naturally the Potato Rosemary bread in Reinhart's BBA was a bread that had to be made. Ever the joker, and not one to follow directions without change, I decided to see what would happen if I used blue potatoes. I eagerly anticipated reactions of surprise I would get with a blue colored bread.

The dough ended up being a very weird consistency. It was extremely slack and refused to hold shape, similar to a very wet ciabatta, but somehow was not sticky. I didn't have much hope it would turn out well, but I baked it anyway. While they looked more than passable from the outside, the inside was an uneven shade with dingy gray streaks.

I was quite disappointed with how the crumb turned out...that was until I toasted some the next morning and it turned lavender. HA!

The texture of the crumb was moist, soft and consistent throughout. The flavor was exceptional, even eliciting a "best tasting loaf so far..." from a frequent devourer of my breads.


Before toasting:

After toasting:


Any chemists here who might have ideas on why the blue was heat activated?


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