Bagels – BBA Challenge bread 3

Don’t let this picture fool you. I should have stuck with Gryfe’s Bagels.

Bagels - Finished Product

This picture makes my bagels look like they came out semi-alright, but the fact is that the one in the front is the best-looking one (by far) of the bunch. Most of them turned out wide and flat. I’m not positive where things went wrong, but I have a few ideas.

Things started out just fine. I mixed the sponge of yeast, flour, and water.

Bagels - Mixing Sponge

And then let it sit for two hours.

Bagels - Sponge after 2 hours

It was supposed to be bubbly and doubled in height, but it didn’t look quite ready, so I let it go another hour. Was this one of my mistakes?

Bagels - Sponge after 3 hours

I added in the rest of the ingredients, including the malt syrup, which the recipe says will give the bagels that real bagel flavor.

Bagels - Adding Malt Syrup

The dough mixed up reasonably well. I had been forewarned that it could take awhile to incorporate all the flour, so I put the mixing spoon aside, plunged in with two hands, and mixed.

Bagels - Dough Mixed

It didn’t take too long for all the ingredients to be hydrated, and then it was ready to knead.

The recipe warned that this would be a very stiff dough, and even though my mixer is a tough one, I decided not to risk a motor burnout so I kneaded the dough by hand. After about five minutes, I had a beautiful, smooth, pliable dough. Not at all tacky. It was stiff and hard work to knead, but it wasn’t ultra stiff. Maybe my next mistake was that I didn’t add more flour then?

Bagels - Kneaded

I kneaded for another five minutes (approx. 10 minutes total). It passed the windowpane test with flying colors.

Bagels - Windowpane

Next, I cut the dough into 12 equal pieces, shaped them into rolls, and let them rest.

Bagels - Rounded for Resting

I had learned from my previous bagel-baking experience that I didn’t like the shaping method where you make a strand of dough, wrap it around your hand, and join the two ends because they came apart when I poached the bagels. So this time I used the alternate method of just punching a hole through the dough ball.

The method is a good one, but my execution of it was poor, as you can see here, because those holes are just way too small. Even before proofing, you can tell from this photo they’re too small. Why I couldn’t tell that in person, I don’t know. Mistake #3.

Bagels - Shaped

I sprayed them lightly with oil, covered them, and put them in the fridge.

At this point, I had no idea I was in for an extreme bagel failure. In fact, I woke up pretty excited the next day, thinking we would have beautiful fresh bagels to eat. Reports from other Challenge recipients were that these were the Best. Bagels. Ever.

Oh boy!

But when I took them out of the fridge and removed their plastic wrap, it was clear that I was in for a disappointment. The plastic wrap stuck a bit (mistake #4: use more spray oil both on the silpat and on the plastic wrap). And the bagels were overly puffed, so when I removed the wrap, some deflated. Miserably.

Bagels - After Fridge

And when I lifted them to put them in the boiling water to poach them, any that had retained any lift immediately collapsed and shriveled into pathetic looking “bagel-dumplings”.

Bagels - Boiling

I knew at this point that it was a failure, but I persisted. I dusted half with a poppy-seed/salt mixture and left the others plain. At this point, I mostly just wanted to throw them in the trash, but, you never know. Maybe oven spring would save them?

Bagels - Seeded


Ha ha ha ha HA!

No such luck.

Bagels - Poppy Seed Baked

Bagels - The Saddest One

The taste wasn’t bad. And Hyla devoured one spread with butter while it was still warm (which I considered quite a compliment since she usually isn’t one to try “experimental” food). We ate several, with goat cheese or cream cheese, and smoked salmon.

They were (sort of) edible. But delicious? A bagel for the ages? Not in my hands.

But I do plan to give them another try. And I’m inspired to go back to my Gryfe’s bagel recipe to give that another go as well. And when I want to make myself feel better, I’ll go back and look at the first (deceptive) picture, and then eat a slab of brioche.


  1. Appoggiatura says:

    I am guessing your bagels continued to proof after you put them in the fridge and thus over-proofed. I had to reduce the temperature in my fridge to make it much colder, because my fridge didn’t retard dough properly. Hope this helps!

  2. grongar says:

    Yes! They definitely overproofed. The change in their size between before/after putting them in the fridge was enormous. I will try again, though!

  3. gaaarp says:

    I’m sorry your bagels didn’t work out. You should definitely try them again, as they really are the best bagels.

  4. Oh better luck next time..they really are yummy bagels…at the least we are trying….learning..and sometimes our mistakes are edible…..happy baking…Jenn @ Pete Eatemall

  5. misterrios says:

    Ouch! This is what my first attempt at bagels a few months ago looked like. This time I followed the BBA to the letter, and they came out wonderful. I am, however, convinced that the rope and close method is best, though, even though one or two did look like they were growing tails.

    I would say try again, since the bagels really are great.

  6. Susie says:

    I had some flat ones too and a tad too chewy for my liking.
    Let’s try them again eh?
    Great baking along with you,

    1. grongar says:

      Yes! Let’s try again!

  7. Ivete says:

    Hum, your post makes me wonder about my own bagel failure . . . what flour did you use? I’ll be sure to turn down my fridge when I go to try this again. That is, if I get up the guts to try again!

    1. grongar says:

      I used KA bread flour, but I’ll spring for the high-gluten flour next time (or try adding the vital wheat gluten that others suggested). What did you use?

  8. Hi!! ;-D sorry to say, but really funny reading. I haven’t been lucky with any of mine eather, but I-m still trying… ;-D

    1. Rebecca says:

      Keep at it! I tried the recipe several times again and it worked beautifully. You’ll get there, too!

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