Mellow Bakers April 2010: (2) Bagels

My second bread for the Mellow Bakers this month – Bagels. You can find the recipe on page 260 in Hamelman’s book “Bread” – this is the book the Mellow Bakers strive to bake their way through at a relaxed pace. I was looking forward to making this recipe to see how they would compare to my BBA bagels. Those were flat, but taste-wise very good.

I wanted to make mini bagels because I think that 4-oz bagels are way too big for kids that are 2, 4 and 7 years old, so I halved the recipe which resulted in 13 bagels of 2 ounces each. Mixing and shaping were easy, unfortunately I forgot to re-read my BBA post where I had said I wanted to try the poke-a-hole method next time I make bagels, so I went with Hamelman’s rope-around-your-hand method. Into the fridge they went for an overnight rest.

The next day, in the biggest pot I have I brought water to a boil, added some malt syrup and boiled the bagels for about 1 minute (the recipe doesn’t say to flip them halfway through, but I did). Into the ice water they went for about 3-4 minutes. I have NO clue what that was good for. Then I topped the bagels with my “everything” topping, which consisted of a mix of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic flakes, and a little salt.

I preheated the oven to 500°F, put the bagels into the oven (I didn’t bother to make bagel boards, I just put them on sheet pans, lined with parchment paper that was sprinkled with cornmeal), flipped them after a short amount of time (I don’t know why the recipe calls for flipping them so early) and continued baking them. After about 10 minutes the smell from the kitchen let me realize that the bagels were about to burn, so I rushed into the kitchen and took them out. WHAT? The recipe says 15-18 minutes!!!! But there was NO way they could stay in the oven any longer!!! Oh well…

The picture above shows you only the good bagels. Yes, that’s weird: I had 4 bagels that came out fine. Already a little too brown, but ok. They were puffed up and the middle was cooked. But all the other 9 bagels were FLAT. Flatter than flat! And they were almost raw in the middle. I have no idea at all how this could happen. We could barely eat them! I tasted the good ones, and they were ok taste-wise. I liked the BBA bagels MUCH better, even though they, too, were flat. But at least they weren’t raw! I haven’t given up on the idea of homemade bagels yet – does anyone have a foolproof recipe, please?

This one, at least, was a big FAILURE! Maybe it was due to the fact that I didn’t use bagel boards. Maybe they would have kept the bagels a little more moist, so I could have left them in longer. Who knows… I found this information here, which kind of confirms my assumption:

“The purpose of the burlap boards is to provide a non-stick surface that will stay relatively cool in the oven while drying the bottom of the bagels. This allows the bagels to be flipped after 2 minutes of baking and helps to preserve the bagels shape. It also ensures the bagel is baked evenly on the top and bottom.”

But still, I’m not willing to make or buy those boards. So maybe I just try Abby’s or Paul’s versions, they came out perfect. And the only difference I could detect was that they used diastatic malt syrup instead of malt powder in the dough.


In the meantime, I made Paul’s sourdough bagels. And whereas they didn’t turn out as flat as the BBA bagels or the Hamelman bagels, I prefer the flavor of the BBA bagels.  I’m going to make them again soon to see if I can figure out how to make them turn out not that flat! Btw, for the sourdough bagels I tried both the rope-around-your-hand method and the poke-a-hole method. And I must say that the rope-around-your-hand method is MUCH easier for me and results in more even bagels than the poke-a-hole method.

Other Mellow Bakers’ bagels:

  • Abby’s bagels looked perfect to me, even though she prefers the BBA bagels
  • Paul thinks, these bagels beat the BBA bagels, but are not as good as his sourdough bagels
  • Lien’s bagels were “flat, crispy and brown on the outside and the inside wet and glue-ish”, but she figured out what the problem was and now knows how to make the perfect bagel ;o)
  • Zeb’s bagels were flat and undercooked, too
  • Anne Marie
  • Oggi
  • Natashya
  • Ulrike

13 responses to “Mellow Bakers April 2010: (2) Bagels

  1. So sorry these didn’t turn out for you. =( After a couple of days of eating these, my family seems convinced that they are just as good as the BBA ones (if not better). I also used baking sheets w/parchment instead of bagel boards . . . I did find that the 2nd tray, which I cooked for 15 min, but chose not to flip, were pretty dark but didn’t burn and were cooked through. Maybe if you lowered the oven rack so the tops were farther away from the heat, you could keep them in longer? Hope you find a reliable recipe!!

    (Hey, you said your BBA ones were flat, too….did you use the malt powder for those, too?)

  2. Sorry about that. You had to see the first bread I made. It could have been sold as a weapon…It was so hard and grey…..LOL

  3. Oh, gosh….. I am leaning towards not making them….

    too bad they did not work very well, but at least SOME did 🙂

    The picture is great!

  4. Sad to hear they didn’t work up properly. Could it by any chance be due to the yeast being less than active? I had a jar that was “ok” but not terribly great, bought a new one and blammo, everything fluffed up well. If the yeast ins’t quite energetic, it may not have the ooomph needed to expand hefty dough like bagels.

    Although that doesn’t explain the four puffy bagels… A puzzlement.

    I should also note that my malt syrup was not diastatic. To make syrup requires temperatures over 140ºF which is high enough to kill off all enzymes. It’s only use is really as flavouring and sweetener, AFAIK.

    Diastatic malt powder, which doesn’t reach near 140º in the grinding process, has enzymes which convert the sugars in the flour into a form useable by the yeast so it helps them perform. I think it also has some effect on dough structure but I can’t recall what exactly.

    Don’t give up on bagels! Once you have the process down, it’s pretty easy.

    (And can we use the photo over on the forum post too?)

    • Oh, I totally forgot to include the picture. Will do that now. I don’t think it was due to the yeast. First, I had those 4 puffy bagels, and second, I always buy yeast in little packages of 1/4 oz each. Unfortunately, I can’t recall if the 4 puffy bagels were all in one batch (I was cooking and ice-watering always 4-piece batches), so I already figured that MAYBE these 4 were the first batch where the ice-water was still icy. For the last batch, the water wasn’t icy at all anymore…

  5. More shapely than mine but sounds similar. I wonder if it is too long in the fridge? Mine had no oomph when they come out. I am always bothered by that highly technical baking term ‘leave overnight in the fridge’ – is that 8 hours at 4 degrees C or something else, is a baker’s night as long as mine…. mutter mutter…..

    • LOL. Yes that’s right… How long is a baker’s night? As far as I know, bakers in Germany start baking at 2 a.m. or even earlier than that, so that would mean a baker’s night is rather short!

  6. I don’t think the ice water not being icy would be the problem since we’ve made Reinhart’s bagels without an ice bath and he keeps the bagels boiling for 1 minute a side so they’re actually hotter and the puffed up fine.

    Unless you actually made separate dough for those four bagels, they all come from the same ingredient combo, they all sat in the fridge for the same time, they all boiled for the same time, they all got cooled (even if not as cold) and they all baked at the same temp for the same length. They should either ALL be flat or ALL be puffy.

    “Something” happened to those nine bagels to cause the flattening. The four that worked, worked. It really is a puzzlement.

  7. Sorry for the flat bagels but the nice ones look great.

    I’m planning to make these later today. Wish me luck!:)

  8. you and me both…. flat bagels! At least you still had 4 that were good, mine were all flat and raw in the middle. We couldn’t eat them. Puzzling how 4 from the same batch work out alright and the rest didn’t. I’ll give these bagels one more try this weekend (I didn’t even shoot pictures of the flatties)… but that ‘s it!

  9. How frustrating! I hate when a recipe doesn’t work and I can’t figure out why. I’ve always had good luck making bagels, so I’m curious now to see how these turn out when I make them. I hope yours work better for you next time.

  10. Pingback: Globe Trotting Bake Off (5) – Finland « Family & Food

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