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recipe: my 1st try at bagels

I recently got “Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads” out of the library and as I was wandering through the huge book, I suddenly NEEDED to make “Jo Goldenberg’s bagels”. I did a little asking around in and also searched the archives of the newsgroup. The following is a description of what I did – sorry, no great photos as are on blm’s bagel adventure page:

edit 17 September 2006: Please see the fixed bagel recipe:

my 1st bagel adventure

I’m here to report about my first bagel adventure. I apologize in advance for the following verbosity.

I reread Clayton’s instructions and noted that, as well as calling for what seems to be too much yeast and hot water, he said to preheat the oven to 400F but to bake at 425F. Because you had added far more flour but less yeast, I decided at the last minute to switch and go with the ingredients in the Peter Reinhart ‘Classic Water Bagels’ recipe that Alan Zelt posted 2001-07-23 in ‘’ in the thread entitled “This is the bagel recipe I used. Jo-Ann”. I halved the recipe.

Last night I put together the starter, using

1+1/4 c lukewarm water,
1/2tsp active dry yeast,
1/4 c of strong wholewheat flour,
1+3/4 c Robin Hood “ideal for bread” flour

instead of 2 cups bread flour. (I just can’t help myself from adding a bit of wholewheat) I left the starter on the counter overnight (kitchen is about 15C at night) and then this morning put together the rest of the dough using

2 c bread flour,
1/2 tsp active dry yeast,
1 Tbsp lukewarm water to activate the yeast,
1/2 Tbsp malt syrup,
1/2 Tbsp salt. (My cup measure holds 250ml)

I kneaded for about 15 minutes, then choking when I saw so much “mist[ing] with vegetable oil”, switched over to the instructions in Clayton’s book by letting the dough rise to double in the oven with the light turned on. (I didn’t oil the bowl – again, force of habit) When the dough had risen, I shaped it into 8 bagels and placed them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Oven started to preheat to 500F. I covered the shaped dough with plastic wrap and set them on the counter by the stove and started a large pot of water to boil. When it came to a smiling boil, I added some malt syrup and then boiled each bagel (two at a time) for one minute on each side – I’m afraid I let them slightly overproof as the water was coming to a boil so they didn’t sink and rise up again to the surface of the water. I put them back on the parchment lined tray and sprinkled with poppy seeds or sesame seeds (didn’t bother with the eggwash) Perfect timing – oven had preheated for half an hour – into the oven for 30 minutes. I turned it down to 425F for the first 15 minutes, turned the tray around and turned the oven down to 400F for the last 15 minutes.

I have to say that these bagels turned out pretty brilliantly! The crust is chewy and firm. And the seeds have stayed attached, for the most part – is the eggwash really necessary? The crumb is a tiny bit lighter than I hoped but my husband loves it and has demanded that bagels be made often. (He was not that excited about me trying to make bagels as they were not his favourite things before.)

A few days later, I made them again using all-purpose flour rather than bread flour – I wanted to see if it was really necessary to use high gluten flour. The resulting bagels were good, but they ended up being more like really great buns with a hole in the center rather than bagels.

I’m afraid that I cheated and poked my thumb through the balls of dough rather than rolling out and folding over the way one is SUPPOSED to do. (Clayton says never to confess this, but anyone who saw my bagels would have known that I cheated)

Great idea of blm’s to use a milk wash instead of an egg wash to make the seeds adhere. I didn’t bother doing any sort of wash at all and the seeds did have a tendency to drop off in the bag (although a lot stayed).

My bagels didn’t sink either when I boiled them but Clayton mentioned that that could well happen so I wasn’t alarmed.

Please read about other bagel making times: