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Bagel making with clay baker

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I just bought a Natures Oven clay Bagel Baker for making bagels but it came with no instructions. I have made bagels once before by hand shaping them and boiling before baking but thought that this clay baker would be easier and make them better. However, I don't have a clue what to do with it...has anyone used it before? I've heard that the clay baker steams the bagels, omitting the process for boiling. Any recipes, tips, suggestions and help would be so appreciated! Thanks!
post #2 of 11
#1) forget about omitting the boiling process, you want to boil them. :)

#2) I don't have any instructions, but I do have other units in clay for baking other breads. The idea is to simulate a hearth oven, which is a brick oven, that is usually wood fired. The idea is also to get a little steam on your breads for more ovenspring.

Now I don't know about your taste in bagels, but for me, I like old fashioned Montreal Style or New York Bagels (though I am on the side of Montreal in that bagel rivalry;)). With a malty taste, not the overly puffy light bread-like ones you often see now, but more dense.

I would still boil first, otherwise you'll make buns not bagels IMO. Unless you like them really light and puffy like a bun, to me those ain't bagels;).

I've noticed those units coming on e-bay occasionally, with manuals. If the company isn't still around, I'm wondering if you e-mail the seller, if for a couple bucks to their Paypal they'd send you a photocopy of the manual, as I would think it's a very short manual. Or I guess you could ask a couple questions about how it says to bake. I'd want to know the maximum temperature they'll bake at, as when I do bagels, I like as high an oven heat as possible. As a frame of reference, hearth oven bagels are usually baked at over 600F, I've even heard 700F:suprise: I would guess without the manual, your clay baker would be safe at 450, but if it was capable of going higher I'd want to know, and would use those higher temps.

Be very careful when the clay unit is hot, to not touch it with something like cool water, you have to handle it so it won't break when under high heat. Put it on a rack, not a cold marble or granite counter, etc.

I would say where it might have the potential to make better bagels would be just in its simulating of a hearth oven, but I wouldn't want an unboiled bagel steaming and rising in there, unless you want them light and puffy.

My only tip for recipe, is get your hands on some malt - I use non-diastatic malt powder or malt flour, you can get some malt powders sometimes at home brew places. Also I'd say use bread flour, or all purpose flour turned into bread flour by adding a little gluten. I like a little sweetener like honey in the boiling water also.

king arthur flour has a good website and sells all things malt as well. King Arthur Flour :: Home Page
post #3 of 11
Being a New Yawker, and having tried some of those commercial and light and fluffy bagels (Gawd! There are so many "bagel bakeries" here in California that make 'em like that - Wonder Bread with holes in 'em), I'd have to agree with you about the boiling.

I didn't realize there was a Montreal/NYC Bagel Rivalry. How is a Montreal bagel different from a NYC bagel?

shel (AKA "The Boogie-Woogie Bagel Boy")
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
I am going for the NY style :-) I'm a transplanted northern gal. The South just doesn't know how to make bagels, lol. (And when you can find a decent bagel shop they only sell 'fruity' kinds, forget finding a onion or garlic or sea salt, etc. bagel!)

No manuals found online anywhere, can barely find any info on this product

Thanks for your tips...I will definitely boil them
post #5 of 11
Is this bagel rivalry more heated than the corned beef/smoked meat rivalry?

I visited Montreal about 20 years ago, but my palate has a pretty good memory. The bagels were loopier (larger holes), denser and I seem to remember had a somewhat crisp crust. I will defer to New Yorkers here for a characterization of their bagels. I don't recall eating during either of my two visits.

The smoked meat I ate in Montreal looked to me more like pastrami and I seem to remember it had a rather mild flavor. Definitely not the same flavor as corned beef or pastrami from New York.
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post #6 of 11
lavine, now that I know you're after a REAL bagel, LOL...

here's a link to some bagel recipes at King arthur flour.

King Arthur Flour: Recipes

I haven't perfected the bagel recipe I'm after yet, but I have found that the ones with malt powder or malt flour added (versus malt syrup) are more what I think of as a NY or Montreal bagel.

shel, the differences are subtle, there are a couple great bagel bakeries in Montreal (www.stviateurbagel.com is one of them). You can order them online too. To me, a Montreal bagel is a little scrawnier than a NY bagel, great texture, a very malty flavor, just the right amount of sweet, and their firing in their hearth seems a bit more happening for some reason. Maybe it's the way they've held to tradition, they still only make 2 kinds of bagels, poppyseed and sesame. if you look carefully on their site (each section has sections) there's a page that shows a little how they're made.

mezzaluna, there is a separate thing that's called "Montreal Smoked Meat." There is commercial availability of it versus some places who cure in house. You can still get a great corned beef in Montreal, you just have to go to the right place, and order it "Medium fat" or the real conoisseurs will tell you to order it "fat" To me all that stuff is hit and miss, the establishment matters more than the city.

LOL wonder bread, with holes and poppy seeds! eeek, it's true. Or as lavine mentioned, fruit, which can even take the form of those fake simulated "blueberries":eek:

good luck lavine, I'm sure your efforts will be rewarded.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well todays is doomsday, lol. Aka, baking day. I finally have the time to get these done and will post when they are finished to let you know how they turned out. One more question though, someone told me that I should soak my bagel baker (the bottom and cover) in water before I use it. Something about the clay holding the water making the steaming process much easier and the bagels better. For those that use clay implements in the kitchen, what do you know about this?

Also, almost every recipe I have found says to turn the bagels half way through the cooking process. The bagel baker has a cover on it, should I still turn it half way through or just let the baker do it's thing?
post #8 of 11
There are many skilled bakers here, but Cape Chef's grandfather had a bagel and bialy bakery. He might have some good insights for you based on his family traditions.
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post #9 of 11
lavine, don't soak the bagel baker.

The reason people sometimes soak a clay baker is to attempt to try to get extra steam. A significant purpose of steam is to try to max out the "oven spring" so your bread will rise higher. A secondary function of steam is that it can contribute to browning. Your bagels have already been boiled, IMO they don't need extra steam. Clay bakers also provide steam just by having a lid on them.

I've seen pro bakers flip bagels in their wood oven. When I bake them at home I don't flip. I would say the first time out don't flip, you'll probably be fine, if you notice a discrepancy between the top and bottom this time, then you could flip in later uses.

BTW I looked up on a long loaf pan style clay baker I have, and it says to bake breads at 400F, so I assume that's an approximate range for what the clay is rated for. I've pushed mine higher with no problems.

I'd also say to try baking some just on a basic cookie sheet, on parchment if you have it for ease of use. Then you'll see if your bagel baker is doing anything for you in how it bakes. (If you want to be really precise about the test, you could weigh the balls of divided dough before rolling into bagels, so you know you're comparing bagels of the same mass).

baking 4 at a time would drive me batty, so hopefully it provides a difference that's worth it, hopefully more of a hearth oven effect.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Yay!! I did it! :bounce: Ok, so I'm a little over excited but they came out better then I could have hoped for, lol!

The bagel baker made a huge difference, a difference you can see and taste.

I made a small batch of six, sense this was my first batch. Two plain, two cinnamon raisin and two onion. Only four can be baked in the baker so I decided to do a test as stir it up had suggested<br>Here is a pic of the bagel that was on a baking sheet...

Well never mind, I could post a pic :-( Will try in next post sense error message said after five posts ...

As you can see it just doesn't look appealing at all and it's pretty hard! <br>This one is a baker one, it held it's shape, its nice and uniformally golden and it is crusty on the outside, chewy softness on the inside and oh so good! I baked at 500 degrees. The baking sheet only took 10 minutes and the bagel baker took 25...
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Can't post pictures....sorry...
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