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Boiling Bagels

j
jcattles Jan 12, 2009 12:17 PM

I buy frozen raw bagels from my grocery store's bakery and then thaw and bake at home for fresh bagels. Recently I was thinking about making my own. Looking at various recipes, I noticed some boil the bagels before baking. Does anyone have experience with boiling or not boiling? I figured I would try it with this next batch of frozen ones. I'll thaw first and do a short rise then boil for a few minutes, then bake. Also, just out of curiosity, what temp oven do you usually use and for how long? I usually go about 450 until nice and brown between 6-10 min and use my stone.

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  1. Karl S Jan 12, 2009 12:20 PM

    Boiling is necessary to create the crust that defines a bagel as opposed to a bread doughnut. Actually, look for recipes that involve using an alkali (baking soda is usual in home baking, rather than the more dangerous lye that traditionalists continue to use to get the best results), as those will be designed to get a richer color and better texture to the crust.

    Also, malt produces a more genuine crumb (tighter, less airy) than sugar, and a characteristic traditional flavor. It's a signature of a traditionally made bagel.

    Two links for update:

    http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/09/bronx-worthy-bagels/

    http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/33

    1. NYCkaren Jan 12, 2009 12:47 PM

      I made them recently using Nigella Lawson't recipe in "How to be a Domestic Goddess." They came out very well. She says to boil them with malt syrup or with sugar if you can't find malt. I think they were baked at 500. Maybe 450.

      1 Reply
      1. re: NYCkaren
        Zeldog Jan 12, 2009 05:23 PM

        Sounds like a waste of malt syrup. I've seen recipes that call for adding malt to the dough (as per Karl S above), but never the boiling water. I second Pigtails' recommendation of the Cooks Illustrated recipe. It calls for malt syrup in the dough and nothing in the water. I don't find that baking soda adds much, but a little lye certainly does make for a lovely red, extra crunchy crust. However, it is a very hazardous material and I wouldn't recommend using it first time out, or at all if you have kids or pets that could tip the pot.

      2. HaagenDazs Jan 12, 2009 01:14 PM

        I agree with the others here. I would choose malt syrup. You could use a dark corn syrup if the malt is hard to come by. You don't want to let them rise too much - if at all - before you boil them. You want them to be thawed, but refrigerated. The boiling water will activate things nicely. Boil them until they float is a good rule. Be careful not to let them sit on the bottom of the pot (and thus stick).

        Baked at a high temp is good, but it sounds like you've already got the baking part figured out.

        1. a
          adamshoe Jan 12, 2009 02:59 PM

          Make sure you give those puppies a nice eggwhite wash after 5 minutes of baking time for a super shiny bagel.(It also helps provide "cling" for sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt, etc. ) Adam

          2 Replies
          1. re: adamshoe
            e
            ESNY Jan 12, 2009 05:08 PM

            Blasphemy. Real bagels don't have an egg wash on them. The dough is wet from the boiling which helps the topping stick.

            1. re: ESNY
              HaagenDazs Jan 13, 2009 05:25 AM

              Exactly - the shine and stick is created from the sugar in the boiling water.

          2. p
            pigtails Jan 12, 2009 03:31 PM

            bagels are not hard to make at home. the key is a good stiff dough. cook's illustrated has some good instructions regarding the dough. also, if you make any cinnamon raisin ones , remember than cinnamon slows / retards yeast (an error i made once). it's fun to make seed bagels, you can make any mix of seeds you like (i add a few fennel seeds). you just roll the bagels in the seeds after boiling and before baking. once i made some amazing garlic bagels with roasted garlic in the dough. YUM.

            i just use plain water, personally, although malt would be an authentic touch i do not believe it is neccesary. you need to flip them over in the boiling water. they don't take long to boil or bake. oven at about 450.

            1. The Professor Jan 12, 2009 05:42 PM

              The malt in the dough (not too much...just enough for those yeasties) and the boiliong are MUSTS for god bagels. Period.
              If it ain't boiled, it ain't even really a bagel.

              1. j
                jcattles Jan 13, 2009 05:53 PM

                Ok I'm not sure what I did. I thawed the frozen bagels in the fridge and took them out about 1/2 hour before I boiled them. They got kinda puffy in the water and looked good. Put them in the oven, and they fell. They ended up completely flat and browned way to fast. The oven was at 450 degrees, like I normally do. Guess I'll just stick with a nice long rise and baking without boiling. At least until I attempt to make my own from scratch.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jcattles
                  p
                  pigtails Jan 13, 2009 07:27 PM

                  i wonder if your bagels could possibly be coming from the store pre-boiled somehow?

                  1. re: jcattles
                    HaagenDazs Jan 14, 2009 04:47 AM

                    Like I mentioned above, I don't think you should let them warm out of the fridge first. The boiling water is plenty of heat... but don't listen to me... ;-)

                    1. re: jcattles
                      Zeldog Jan 26, 2009 08:41 PM

                      I never heard of freezing uncooked dough. You killed the yeast, for sure, and who knows what else got messed up. If you want frozen bagels, bake them first. They keep pretty well that way.

                      1. re: Zeldog
                        The Professor Jan 27, 2009 08:59 AM

                        Freezing doesn't kill the yeast. I have preserved brewing yeast in the past by freezing with no problems, and I still routinely freeze both un-risen bread and pizza dough to have it on hand in a pinch. It thaws, it rises, and it bakes up perfectly.

                    2. s
                      shallots Jan 13, 2009 06:37 PM

                      I form them, spin them (like a 45 record with my finger in the hole) on a plate with semolina, and then they go on a Silpat (Exopat) for a brief rise and then into briskly boiling water.
                      I cook the boiled dough at 375 for about 25 minutes. This is for smallish bagels about 4-5" across.

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