After years of living in a bagel wasteland (Portland), I have decided to take matters into my own hands. I made some bagels this morning with a fairly simple recipe:
2lb high gluten flour, 1lb 3oz water, 1/2 oz barley malt powder, 1 tsp instant yeast, 1 tbsp salt. Mix in food processor, rise 1 hour, shape, refrigerate overnight,boil, bake on a preheated stone.
They were very good, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. I was looking at the bagel recipes in each of my baking cookbooks and they differ quite a bit:
-Bread Baker's Apprentice uses a pre-ferment, boils in water with baking soda and bakes on parchment starting at 500F and then reducing to 450F
-Baking Illustrated boils in plain water and bakes on a sheet at 450F
-Baking with Julia has sugar and shortening in the dough instead of malt powder, boils in water with sugar and baking soda, and bakes on a stone at 500F, then 450F
-Essentials of Baking has an egg bagel recipe that uses all-purpose flour.
-These all use an overnight proof in the fridge and all use high-gluten flour and malt powder unless noted.
What I'm looking for in a bagel is a good chew and a nice thick crust. The bagels I made today were lacking a bit in both areas. How should I procede? Which recipe sounds most promising, or should I try a combination of techniques? I'll probably eventually try all of the recipes (except maybe the Essentials one, as that sounds like some sort of California-style bagel), but I'd like to start with the one that has the best chance of success.