The Fresh Loaf

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Freezing Bagel dough

bobku's picture

Freezing Bagel dough

Does anyone know if I can freeze Bagel dough that is shaped and ready to go into boiling water. Can i just thaw them out then boil or do they need to rise again. Can this be done at all without greatly affecting the taste. I want to end up with frozen bagels that I can just thaw boil and bake

alconnell's picture

I have done this successfully many times.  I sometimes don't even thaw them all the way and it has worked for me.  I usually make a batch of 12 and freeze half since there are only 3 of us.

bobku's picture

How long does it usually take to thaw?

alconnell's picture

I honestly haven't paid attention.  I just get up, take out the bagels, make coffee and read the paper, get things ready for breakfast, and make them!  You can probably boil them after 45-60 min. I would guess. I'll pay more attention next time. 

Bernadette0307's picture

Wanted to share in case anyone else is searching on this topic.  We were just in NYC and had a taste of great bagels again, for the first time in a long long time so when we returned home I had to try making them myself.  So I bought some Barley Malt Syrup on Amazon and searched all the recipes and gave it a shot.  Perfection!  I found a lot of help online on how to make bagels, so wants to share my approach to freezing dough given there isn’t much info documented.   I wanted the flexibility to make a batch but freeze some of it in the “shaped bagel dough form” (before the boil and bake), so that I could the boiled and bake fresh bagels on another day as well.  So here is what I do to freeze and then boil/bake at a later date:

After I shape all of my dough into bagels, I put the bagels that I want to freeze in dough form on a tray and put tthe tray in the freezer (no need to cover).  They freeze quickly, so probably within an hour they are hard enough to then throw into a freezer bag and store in the freezer for future use (ideally not near the freezer door if it gets open and closed a lot).

When ready to boil and bake those frozen dough bagels I take a Tupperware container (I use a large shallow pie Tupperware container) and scatter a light amount of cornmeal and place each frozen bagel dough on that light sprinkling of cornmeal….I usually just scatter the cornmeal where I’m going to place each bagel. Leave some space anround each bagel to allow for some slight ricing if it happens.  Another option is to place them on a tray (with scattering if cornmeal) and cover the bagels on the tray with oiled plastic wrap (I’m just trying to get away from using and throwing away so much plastic wrap, so I use my large shallow Tupperware containers). Then the following steps:

Thaw:  Choose if you want to thaw the bagel doughs overnight in the fridge (or for 10-18 hrs), or if you prefer to just let them thaw on your kitchen counter for 45 mins. It really surprised me how quickly they do thaw when they (still covered) sit on the kitchen counter.

Proof:  Once they are thawed, I give them a little more time to just warm up and rise.  My house is usually cold, so not ideal for rising dough, so I fake it out by turning the gas fireplace on and place my covered bagels nearby and check it often.  Another option I’ve used is to warm up a heating pad, and put my container with bagels above it on a raised cooling rack.  Just to get some warmth nearby and around it.  I just keep an eye on them, just letting them warm up and expand just a little.  They will rise a bit in the next steps so this is more about just getting them warmed up a bit.  An hour is enough, can do less, and can do a little more…just check on them if you do longer than an hour.

Boil then bake as normal.  Honestly if you are rushed for time I totally think you could shorten or even skip the proof step above…

These come out as delicious as the ones I boiled and baked without freezing.  So this was a game changer for me cuz now I’ll make bagel dough whenever it’s convenient knowing I can just freeze them right after shaping.

I’m convinced that using Barley Malt Syrup in the dough, and again in the boil (with baking soda) and an egg wash before the bake are the keys to achieving great NYC style bagels.  

Hope this helps anyone else out there making bagels!!






tpassin's picture

I’m convinced that using Barley Malt Syrup in the dough, and again in the boil (with baking soda) and an egg wash before the bake are the keys to achieving great NYC style bagels. 

Thanks for this detailed report.

My only gripe about barley malt syrup in the dough is that it makes the interior dark and I'd rather have it nice and white.  A minor nit, of course.

I've been avoiding putting the malt syrup in the boiling water because I read that it makes the pot hard to clean.  I should really try it anyway.

As for an egg wash, I have nothing against it but I guarantee that the old-time bagel places didn't use one.  I've seen enough old films to know that. OTOH, my bagels don't quite have that nice sheen ...

Bernadette0307's picture

Boiling pan has absolutely no residue or staining after putting Barley Malt Syrup in the boiling water.  

Egg wash is obviously optional.  I love it!

Barley Malt Syrup in the dough is definitely the key for taste…if taste and texture was not my priority I’d still be buying bagels at a not as good bagel shop instead of making them at home.  

The best advice I saw online when people asked questions that nobody knew the answer to was to just try it.  Experiment and figure out what works for you!  

Just wanted to share what works for me, and helps folks continue their experimentation in finding what works for them!

tpassin's picture

Thanks for the info.  How much barley syrup do you put in the water?

Bernadette0307's picture

2 Tlb Barley Malt Syrup in the boiling water….

I read quite a few bagel recipes and jotted notes down from several.  Here is what I do every time now and the bagels come out perfect.  Also if you are new to bagel making I found this video very helpful:

Bernadette’s Bagel Recipe

The linked video is great to watch before making bagels for the first time:

We love blueberry bagels so you will see me noting in the recipe below where I noted blueberries, had to offset and add extra flour, and had to mix them in….but those extra steps are noted, so if you don’t want blueberry bagels just skip those notes.  Adding blueberries adds an extra step of having to feel out how much flour to add to offset the extra hydration that comes with adding blueberries.  
I added blueberries so needed to tweak to account for the additional hydration.  Not a big deal but worth noting.
With blueberries this made 14 bagels, otherwise it makes 12 bagels.

Bagel Dough (Yields 12) (14 bagels if you add blueberries)

511 g. Water (room temperature) (2-¼ cup)
40 g. Barley Malt Syrup (2 Tbsp)
2 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
907 g. Bread Flour (King Arthur, Unbleached, Unbromated) (6 1/2 cups)
22 g. Sea Salt (Fine) (4-½ tsp.)

Blueberries Optional Dough Add:
210 g (1.5 cups) frozen blueberries (no need to thaw)
45 g of additional flour (plus 2-4 more cups on the side during kneading step)

Boiling Mixture:
8 cups Water
40 g. Barley Malt Syrup (2 Tbsp)
1 tsp baking soda

Egg Wash:
1 Egg 
1 Tlb Water

For rising and for baking:
Mixing the Bagel Sponge:

In the largest bowl combine the water, barley malt syrup, yeast, and half of the bread flour.
Stir together and beat using a rubber spatula until the mixture is well incorporated and resembles a batter.
Completely cover the bowl (ie platic wrap) and let ferment for 1 hour. (I usually place either in front of warm gas fireplace or on an 80 degree heating pad given my house is on the cool side).
**Optional if making blueberry bagels:  In a separate bowl toss the frozen blueberries with its additional flour.

After the Sponge Ferment:
After 1 hour the batter will have doubled in size and be very bubbly.

Mixing and Kneading the Final Bagel Dough:
**if making blueberry bagels, Set a bowl with 2-3 cups of additional flour nearby since extra will be needed as you knead, in order to offset the well hydrated blueberries.
To the batter add the remaining bread flour, salt and if using, gently fold in the blueberries that have been tossed with flour. Stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate or until the dough becomes shaggy. (If blueberries are used, Add extra flour if blueberry mixture is making the dough wet). Note: The dough should have low hydration and will seem dry at this point.
Scrape down the bowl and spoon, and scrape the dough onto the (unfloured) kitchen counter. 
Knead for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate the dry ingredients into the dough. If making blueberry bagels, add flour if dough is still too hydrated given the well hydrated blueberries.
Once the dough becomes a cohesive mass. Knead the bagel dough for 8 to 10 minutes or until the Bagel Dough is smooth and elastic. Will need to knead longer if blueberries were added. Use the dough to pick up all of the loose flour on the counter. Note: Because the dough has low hydration it will require you to use your body weight to knead.
Place the Bagel Dough into the lightly oiled largest metal bowl and cover (ie lightly oiled plastic wrap). Let dough ferment and rise for 1 hour. This allows the dough to relax, rise and ferment after the kneading step.

Dividing and Making Logs:

After 1 hour of fermentation. Uncover the bowl and turn the bagel dough onto the (unfloured) kitchen counter. 
Weigh the full dough amount and divide by 4.4 oz (or 124 g) to calculate the number of bagels you will get. Cut the bagel dough into 12 pieces (or more depending on your calculation) with each piece weighing approximately 4.4 oz. (124 g.). Cover the 12 rough pieces on the counter with plastic.
Pre-shape the bagel dough pieces into cylinders: pull one piece out at a time, flatten it out and release all air bubbles, fold two opposite sides in, press down firmly, and then firmly roll one short side up to the other side into a cylinder, and roll it a few times to form it. (Don’t want to add air pockets in when rolling log). Return the dough cylinder to beneath the plastic wrap. Repeat until all dough pieces are rolled into cylinders.

Let the dough cylinders rest covered for 5-30 minutes minutes before final shaping. (Give it the longer 30 minutes of rest if blueberries were added)

Shaping the Bagels:
Lightly scatter cornmeal inside the bottom of three of my large round tupperware pie containers and set aside for the shaped bagels. (Or use a tray)
Work with 1 piece of dough at a time and leave the remaining bagel dough logs covered.
Place one bagel dough log on the unfloured work surface. Shape the bagel into a 9-inch log by rolling the dough underneath the palms of your hands. Making long motions back and forth and applying pressure to degas and release any trapped air bubbles and to lengthen the dough. Knock out any air bubbles with your palm if they exist.
Wrap the log of dough around your palm with the ends of the dough overlapping by 1-inch in your palm.
Place your palm on the work surface and roll to connect the ends of the dough. The hole in the center of the bagel will be large at this point. 
Remove the shaped bagel from your hand and place it in the container or on the tray you set aside above. (Or if planning to freeze some, this is a good time to put on a tray in the freezer).
Shape the remaining bagel pieces.

Close the lid onto the container (or cover tray with plastic wrap) with the shaped bagel dough and let it proof for 1 hour at room temperature, or place in fridge for 4-48 hours (place in fridge is my preference to help build flavor).

Boiling the Bagels:

If bagels were in the fridge, bring them out to sit at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. 
If they were in the freezer, lightly sprinkle some corn meal in a Tupperware pie container and place each frozen dough bagel in the container and close the lid (or put on tray and cover with plastic wrap). They will be thawed within 45 min, and then if desired put them near the gas fireplace or on the heating pad (80-90 degrees) to warm up a bit to “reactivate” the yeast (check to make sure they don’t over proof but my guess is 45 min to 1.5 hrs would probably be enough).
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Set up several wire racks with paper towels beneath to hold post-boil bagels.
Prepare egg wash. 
Prepare two sheet pans with parchment paper and a dusting of corn meal for the baking step. Fill a large pot with 8 cups of water and bring to a light boil.  Whisk in the Barley Malt Syrup and slowly add the baking soda. Heat to a low boil, then reduce to an active simmer.  
Boil bagels in batches of two or three for 45 seconds per side.
Use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer the bagels to a wire rack and repeat with the remaining bagels on the first sheet. The bagels will swell in the water, then deflate when removed, but they will puff up again in the oven.
For each boil batch, be sure to let it come back to a boil before you drop in more.

Baking the Bagels:
Place bagels on the prepared sheet pans.
Brush bagels with egg wash and add any toppings you like. 
Bake the bagels at 450 degrees until golden brown for 18 to 22 minutes.
Rotate the pan (front to back, back to front) halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Tent with aluminum foil if getting too dark. 

Cooling Bagels:
Let bagels cool on the sheet pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. Bagels are best eaten within 4-24 hours after baking!
Repeat boiling, coating, baking, and cooling the remaining bagels.

Storing Bagels:
Bagels are meant to be eaten the same day they are made or frozen in an air-tight plastic bag after they cool to room temperature. To defrost frozen bagels, fully wrap a frozen bagel in a paper towel and heat in microwave about 30 seconds. 

Frozen bagel dough:
- Freeze after shaping, first on a tray in the freezer, and then pop each of them into a freezer bag
- Thaw: I use my Tupperware pie container…scatter cornmeal, place the frozen bagel shaped dough on top of the cornmeal, and repeat with other bagels. Cover with top. You can either allow a very slow thaw of 10-18 hours (or overnight) in the fridge. Or I found that they thaw in 45 min on the counter.
- Proof: Then move them near the fireplace (still covered) or on the heating pad (80-90 degrees) to proof before boiling/baking.
- Boil/Bake as normal

Notes:Egg wash is optional but highly suggested, to give the bagels a golden brown color that is slightly shiny. Egg washes can make the bagels look more professional, a bit crispier, or act as a binder for any toppings you add.



tpassin's picture

Good details, thanks.  I've made bagels a number of times before, both yeasted and sourdough.  Since I didn't put barley syrup in the boiling water I'm glad to get your guidance on how much to use.

My main problems with bagels so far is getting the two ends to join - since the dough is so dry they don't want to, even with some pinching. I don't want to go punching holes in a disk of dough but to keep joining the ends of a rope.  And I also tend to get lengthwise striations, stretch marks, which don't hurt anything but don't give that smooth plump appearance that I'd like to see in a bagel.

They have a good taste and bagel texture, though.

Davey1's picture

My suggestion would be a wetter dough - but I haven't made bagels in a while. Enjoy! 

Bernadette0307's picture

I thought the same!  Watch the video I mentioned above to see the dough consistency and how to roll the perfect bagel.  I too didn’t want to poke a hole through either so this video helped me see someone’s approach.  

Here it is again:

It’s in this bagel recipe post: