BBA Challenge: Bagels


I wanted to make my husband fresh bagels, and I figured this was a perfect time to test the bagel recipe from Reinhart’s BBA. I cut the recipe in half, and flavored half of the resulting dough with cinnamon and raisin. Scaling the the dough for each bagel at 3.75 – 4 ounces, I ended up with 4 plain bagels and 4 cinnamon raisin.

The recipe called for first mixing all the water, about half the flour, and half the yeast to make a sponge. After the sponge rested for the required 2 hours, it was very bubbly. At this point, I added in the rest of the yeast, the salt, the sugar, the malt syrup, and most of the remaining flour.

I kneaded the dough and then divided it in half. I added cinnamon and raisins to half the dough, kneading it in. Then I divided up the dough into 8 balls and let them rest 20 minutes before shaping them into bagels.

According to the recipe, the bagels proof at room temperature for 20 minutes, and then are placed in the fridge overnight so that the dough flavor can develop.

Here is where I cut a corner. Even though Reinhart is insistant that the overnight fermentation is critical, I gave the bagels a very scanty couple of hours in the fridge before boiling and baking them.

The resulting bagels were excellent, especially the cinnamon raisin. Next time I will have to be more patient and give them the longer fermentation.

Note: I boiled the bagels for 1 1/2 minutes per side, with very chewy results. In regards to baking, I baked the bagels for about 15 minutes, with the first 5 minutes being at 500 degrees, and the remainder at 425 degrees.

Some final observations: I was a little worried about skipping the long fridge fermentation, so I checked out some other bagel recipes. The interesting thing is that there is such divergence on how to develop the dough.

Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible:  Similar dough formular, but RLB calls for the sponge to rest anywhere from 1-4 hours or even better overnight or up to 24 hours for “best flavor development.” She also lets the dough rest 20 minutes before kneading it, and then lets it rise 1-2 hours before putting the dough in the fridge for 4 hours (or better yet, overnight). Then the dough is shaped and the bagels proof for 15 minutes before boiling. Totally different from PR’s idea of shaping and then proofing overnight.

Maggie Glezer’s A Blessing of Bread  skips the whole sponge process. She uses a food processor and hand kneading to mix the dough. Then she shapes the bagels, proofs for 2 hours at room temperature, and then she refrigerates the shaped bagels overnight.

Marcy Goldman’s A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking calls for a short 15 minutes proof, then shaping the bagels, and then another short 15-20 minute proof before boiling and baking. I have made this recipe with outstanding success.


I will contribute this to YeastSpotting, hosted this week by Nick of imafoodblog.

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10 Responses to “BBA Challenge: Bagels”

  1. Mélanger Says:

    I’ve only made bagels once. They were lovely and chewy. Though it called for malt syrup which I did not have. Love bagels so will have to make them again!

  2. nick Says:

    They are looking good!

    If you don’t have/want to spend time on the cold ferment on the day of baking you can always pre-ferment the sponge/poolish/biga whatever over night (or even for 2 nights) in the fridge before finally dough prep. It will help develop a lot of extra flavor profiles, w/o the hassle of having to do it with the total volume of dough.

  3. Mimi Says:

    Your bagels look great!

  4. Andreas Says:

    Nicely done. I haven’t made bagels yet, but sometimes I’ll have to try it.

  5. Madam Chow Says:

    My husband loved these, and I really like how you compared the techniques in the different books – all of which I have! Great job. And as for your question about the strata – yes,you can definitely leave out the prosciutto, or use soy bacon. Either way, it will not be missed because there are so many flavors.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Thanks Madam Chow. Good to know about the strata. I made french toast this morning but still have a lot of challah to use up. And I’m glad you appreciated the recipe comparison, I was hoping it would be helpful to someone else thinking about making bagels.

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