I'm practicing bagel baking, using the "mother dough" recipe from Milk Bar, by Tosi & Chang. The taste & texture are pretty good, but I want a nice, crisp, blistery crust, which has eluded me so far. My question is: what are the most important factors in crust production for bagels? Is it the poaching, the baking, or both? So far, here's what I've done:
- following an Epicurious recipe, poached the bagels in water with baking soda, salt, & honey (technically it should be barley malt, but I didn't have any)
- preheated oven to 500F and then lowered to 450F when the bagels go in (again, following a recommendation on Epicurious)
- I have tried both a baking stone and a sheet pan; the sheet pan gives marginally better results
Should the oven be hotter? Should the poaching water be differently prepared? Something else?