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Jan 4, 2012 08:55 AM

Bagel Beginner with Flour Query

I want to make some boiled/baked bagels for the first time. I have some King Arthur "Sir Lancelot" flour (even higher protein than their bread flour) and the non-diastatic malt powder that KA recommends for bagels. What I notice on looking at recipes, however, is that they all call for AP flour or sometimes bread flour, even though I read somewhere that high gluten flours are optimal for bagels.

I'm willing to try different flours and see what's what. But I wonder: can I simply sub in extra-high gluten flour in any recipe, or are other adjustments called for with it (e.g., moisture level, increased kneading, etc.)?

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  1. Bagels can be made with just about any good quality flour, from AP to Bread or other higher gluten flours. The texture will vary, higher gluten flour usually equals a chewier bagel - although the totality of the formula and how the bagels are processed also contribute to their texture.
    I'd encourage you to work with the high gluten flour you have. Congrats .,...
    Bagels are tons of fun to make.

    1. You can go w/ higher gluten flour but pay extra attention to the texture and be ready to add more water, if necessary. You might get away w/ less kneading time if the recipe uses AP flour.

      1. Thanks for the replies, todao and chowser.

        About the dough: should it be kneaded to a window-paning stage, like country bread doughs? I've heard that bagel doughs are supposed to be quite dry, too. If it's tacky, is it too wet? (I'm used to working with pretty wet doughs.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bada Bing

          The dough shouldn't be tacky after kneading. It is definitely not a wet dough. It is an easy dough to work with and they are great fun to make. In my part of the country, my homemade bagels are the best ones that we can get! I substitute 1/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup rye flour for 1/2 cup of the unbleached flour - it adds a lot of flavor to the bagels. Our favorite topping is kosher salt and sesame seeds.

          1. re: Bada Bing

            Theoretically, yes. You want to knead to the window pane test where the dough is satiny and pliable (Peter Reinhart's words--very descriptive). That said, I often do the autolyse-ish method (kind of my version of it, learned from CHs) because it's a tough dough to knead to that point--taxes my kitchenaid and/or my shoulder (with a torn rotator cuff).


            I knead, let it rest, knead again until it gets to the window pane stage. Or, sometimes since I leave it for a long rest, shaped as bagels (overnight in the refrigerator), I'll just shape it when the dough is satiny but not quite to that stage. Time is your friend.

          2. I use the Bread Bakers Assistant formula for making bagels. I have made them several ways with different combinations of flour, all in the pursuit of excellence.

            I use Sir Lancelot for the sponge, and KA Bread flour for the dough. We like the flavor of either barley malt or non-diadastic malt powder. I also make my bagels into 2.5 oz and 3 oz rounds. The 4.5oz in most recipes is just too big for me.

            Made this way, these bagels are craveable.

            3 Replies
            1. re: smtucker

              I also do a sponge and use either malt syrup or powder. I do 90 grams per bagel; this is about 3.175 oz. Looks like we have reached the same conclusions independently!

              I differ from some folks in one arena....I have been baking avidly for 40 years, and I cannot find much difference between unbleached flours. Unbleached AP and bread flours really seem to be very similar to one another. Even protein content seems to have minimal effect for me. Perhaps if I tested them side-by-side, or if I did larger scale baking, I might see a difference. But, honestly, bread flour and AP are interchangeable in most home baking situations. Organic? I am a great believer in organics, but I don't taste a difference and it is just too pricey.

              1. re: smtucker

                I like Peter Reinhart's recipe, too, and it would use high gluten flour like the OP has.

                1. re: smtucker

                  i've also had good luck with the BBA bagel recipe, though i typically modify it by basing it off a sourdough starter -- which, if i recall correctly, smtucker very kindly gave me a few years back! (thanks!)

                2. I use AP flour and my favorite recipe is Emeril Lagasse's.


                  Have fun!