Building a better bagel

 Homemade bagels

Yeast breads intimidate many otherwise competent home cooks. There are so many variables that can affect how the bread turns out: humidity, ambient temperature, proofing times, kneading issues, and more. This is especially true when it comes to bagels, which have a stiff dough unlike any other. Despite these issues, you can make great bagels at home, promises Stella Parks. She offers a guide to troubleshoot the most common bagel mistakes

Parks has developed a bagel recipe that she claims will overcome many of the pitfalls that can arise when baking these delicious golden rings. One of the problems that often perplexes beginners is how to achieve the best shiny, crisp crust. The dough needs to be stretched fairly taut to achieve the “crispy, crackly micro-bubbles” that are the hallmark of a well-made bagel. 

You can make sure this occurs by shaping the bagel properly and by developing sufficient gluten in the dough. As to the latter, using the wrong flour is one common problem, but under-kneading is even more of an issue. It can be difficult to work the dough enough by hand or even with a stand mixer to achieve sufficient gluten devleopment. Unless you want a physical workout – it can take up to 45 minutes of hand kneading – Parks recommends using a food processor to achieve the same result in a fraction of the time. 

She also provides tips to help you avoid dense bagels and dull, matte crusts, plus how to avoid hitting a few other stumbling blocks. Read all of the tips at indexed blog Serious Eats

Photo of Homemade bagels from Serious Eats by Stella Parks 

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  • Jenny  on  March 25, 2017

    Thanks for this post Darcie – one thing I miss about NY (one of many things) are the bagels. I need to start making my own.

  • darcie_b  on  March 25, 2017

    You're welcome, Jenny. I have had good results from Peter Reinhart's bagel recipe in 'The Bread Baker's Apprentice' – but I haven't tried Stella's recipe to compare it.

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