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Jan 4, 2011 05:50 PM

Mark Bittman's bagel recipe?

Two questions about this recipe (from "How To Cook Everything")
1) Has anyone else found that while the bagels tasted great and had that nice outside crust, they still had a pretty soft crumb and didn't have the same chewiness of a Montreal-style bagel (which is what I really want to make, since I can't exactly afford to ship St-Viateur bagels to myself...) Should I try adding some vital wheat gluten to the dough or something? I also noticed that my dough seemed a bit wet for a bagel dough and I might reduce the amount of water slightly next time. It's pretty wet where I am, maybe that made a difference?
2) I noticed that a lot of other recipes give a much longer boiling time, around 5-7 minutes as opposed to the 1 minute in Bittman's recipe. What's preferable?
Thanks for any feedback! I'm still a bit of a bread baking noob so anything would be helpful.

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  1. I don't have Mark Bittman's Bagel recipe, but I'm a pretty fair maker of bagels. I begin with a sponge that ferments overnight in the fridge. I don't use lye for the boiling/poaching stage, it's too dangerous and I find that soda works well enough as an alkalizer in the process. The formula I use includes yeast, bread flour (high gluten) salt, malt powder and water, of course, and either molasses or malt syrup. If I can't find either of those I reduce a malted beer along with a little sugar. I float test them and when they pass that test I put them through a cold fermentation. At the end of the fermentation period (usually about 24 hours) they go into boiling water and allow them to cook until they float. If I want a tender bagel I take them out sooner (typically less than 30 seconds) and if I want a chewier bagel I leave them in the boiling water for a couple of minutes but usually not longer than 2 - 3 minutes. The longer they're in the water the chewier they become - up to a point. When they're all out of the water and drained they go into a 500 degree oven where they stay for 5 - 6 minutes before rotating the pan, reducing the oven temperature to 450 and baking another 5 - 6 minutes. Out of the oven they cool on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes before they find their way to the table.

    1. Yuo might want to take a look at this recipe which is supposedly from St. Viateur :

      Bittman's are probably NY-style bagels, a totally different animal. Montreal bagels have malt or honey and sweetened water (and no salt) and are backed in a wood-burning oven (which is hard to replicate at home). Oh, and using bread flour (not AP flour) will help with the chewiness.

      You can also try Marcy Goldman's recipe. She is a terrific Montreal pastry chef.