Bagel Monday from Home

Today is the second Bagel Monday since we have moved it back into the home. It was a fairly difficult decision to move the production of bagels for Bagel Monday out of La Victoria, but I felt it was needed. Bagel Monday has been happening continuously for about two years, and has morphed a bit along the way.

It started off as just another bread that we were baking during my first 1000 loaves of bread. A friend wanted bagels for her office on monday, and since bagels were just another form of bread, we said we could bake them and did. It was made into a routine, and we renamed the day to Bagel Monday. We could bake more bagels than bread out of the first Sour Flour Oven, so it was a way to reach more people. Many different people would help out, and at the most we made about 180 bagels (with the help of our head taster’s oven upstairs).

Each week we would modify our formula slightly, adjusting to try to get the perfect bagel. Some of the bagels were awful, especially in the beginning. But most were great. And the more we did it, the better we kept getting at baking the bagels. The consistency improved, but the bagels would always change a little bit each week.

I resisted moving Bagel Monday into La Victoria at first, but after many months of producing bread, finally did. The bagels kept improving, and we were able to produce a lot of bagels, usually around 180. One time, Roger and I opened two sacks of flour onto the Big Table, and mixed together enough dough for 550 bagels. Many of the bagels were good, but some were not. Communication with the people actually getting the bagels was lost. We’d spend so much time to buy generic drugs from canada

So last week it was decided to move Bagel Monday back into the home. I weighed out my flour, but guessed on the water, and ended up with an extremely stiff dough that was difficult to get to come together. I mixed the dough quite late in the afternoon, and needed to develop it further before going to sleep. In the morning I shaped the bagels, which were so stiff that they barely could roll out. I let them proof for a few hours in the warm room as the oven preheated. They sank upon entering the boiling water, but floated in less than a minute. After boiling for about 8 minutes, I baked them in the hot oven until the crust was set. For being such a different formula, the bagels were actually not bad. Less sour than we had been having recently (which I think is good), but slightly bland.

This week I had planned on planning out a new formula and getting a good baseline going. However, my plans were changed when we realized our Bagel Workshop was overbooked, and Mike (our new Bread Instructor) would be overloaded. So instead of baking a batch of bagels for myself, I led the workshop, and got the same bagels everyone else did. Normally for our Bagel Workshop (and in our workshops in general) we have been eyeballing and going completely by feel. But as we try to get better and better bread and bagels, weighing precisely has some major advantages. So to prepare for the workshop, I took an idea Stephanie (another Bread Instructor) had, and weighed out all ingredients for everyone ahead of time.

With some quick math, we ended up with 280g flour, 120g water, 50g starter (estimated to be at 150% hydration), and 6g salt. This would hypothetically give us a 50% hydration dough, but when we did our initial incorporation, the dough felt slightly wet, so I had everyone add a pinch more flour. The one element I was quite worried about was our starter, Dulce, who had been fed quite erratically recently. She started off by getting turned into a stiff golfball sized piece (about 80g), and buried in flour on Friday night. Saturday night, I added her to 1600g flour, and 2000g water; our flour was premixed with salt because of having run out of fresh flour and having to borrow from our planned production. Because of the heavy feeding, salted conditions, and cold night, in the morning, Dulce was not looking too hot; she was difficult to gauge just how acidic she was, because she was quite salty. She got left next to the open hot oven to speed up a bit in the morning, and then was fed lightly some high gluten flour (for the bagels), and a bit more water. She was fed by eye, about 2X, and I estimated to have her at about 150% hydration. By the time she was ready for the Bagel Workshop, she had some slight bubbles, but was a bit sad looking. I was worried that perhaps the 50g starter would not be enough, but that’s what we had to work with, and we went with it.

Everyone in the workshop worked their dough well, and ended up shaping and taking home 3 or 4 bagels. I was happy with how mine shaped out, but still worried about how active it was. I left them on my counter, covered with a slightly wet napkin. In the morning, they had proofed nicely, and seemed nice and chubby. Very nice structure still, and they floated immediately upon entering the water. I boiled for just a few minutes, and would have gone a bit longer, but saw a split coming down one of the bagels, so decided to remove them. I seeded one of my bagels with poppy, another with sesame, and the third plain. They are now in the oven, which was preheated to the 525 mark, and now baking at the 475 mark. It is always hard to predict exactly how they will be, especially when using such a new formula, but they look great at this stage.

More updates coming soon, as we work on Communication this Bagel Monday.