Bagels are, in theory, very easy to make. If you can make a simple bread then you have all the skills you’ll need for bageling. However, it seems to be an acknowledged problem that unless you have very good luck your first batch won’t be great. You have to learn by experience with bagels it would seem! *
[ * I have now given bagels another go and it was indeed my fault the first time, see my Bagel Update for how to get those holes in.]
The problem with these bagels was that I left them for too long on the second rise coz the kitchen was occupied. This meant that they just collapsed after poaching. They’re still delicious but rather flat. Something of a cross between an English Muffin, melba toast and a bagel really! I also didn’t make the holes big enough so they have dimples instead. But I make these mistakes so you don’t have to. Take heed and don’t over rise and make a bigger hole!
The other problem I’m having at the minute is the temperature. We’ve got 6″ of snow! Unless the fire’s going in the evening I don’t have anywhere to rise bread so I’m having to just about double the time for everything. Even regular baking is going a bit haywire as everything’s too cold! I did the first rise overnight but didn’t need to use the fridge, the whole house is a fridge!
450g bread flour
7g fast action yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
250ml warm water
3 tbsp sugar
seeds for sprinkling
1 egg white
– Mix together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
– Make a well in the centre and add the warm water and honey. This should be quite a stiff dough so you may not need all of the water keep back a few tbsp and go very gradually, mixing a little between additions.
– Mix with a spoon until combined into a dough.
– Turn out onto a lightly floured worksurface and knead for about 10 minutes until soft and smooth.
– Lightly oil a clean bowl and leave overnight in a cold place or in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. Overnight is recommended as more flavour develops.
– Prepare 2 baking sheets with baking paper brushed with oil.
– Once risen knock down and divide the dough into 10 roughly equal balls.
– Roll into spheres by cupping your hand over the ball on the work surface and rolling it around until even.
– Poke a hole in the middle using a wooden spoon.
– Use your fingers to coax the hole bigger until you can get your hand inside it.
-Roll the circle a bit bigger and looser. **
– Lay down on your oiled baking paper keeping the hole at around 2 inches if you can. The dough will be quite elastic so this will take a bit of cunning!
– Leave to rise for about 20 minutes until they’re puffed up. ***
– Meanwhile heat the oven to gas mark 7 and get a very large pot of water to the boil with the last 3 tbsp of sugar, you want the absolute biggest pot you can get and it wants to be a good 3-4″ deep. It doesn’t want to be a rolling boil but just simmering.
– Once the bagels have risen slip them into the water in batches and poach for one minute on each side using a spatula to flip them.
– Fish them out and drain them off a bit and put them back on the oiled tray. Brush with the egg white let down with a little water and whisked a bit and sprinkle on any toppings you like. I used nigella seeds.
– Put the trays in the oven and cook for 10 minutes then flip over the bagels and switch the trays over and cook for another 10 minutes until golden brown.
– Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes then enjoy!
** See the Bagel Update for a better technique, twirl the ball round the stick to get a bigger hole.
*** This is unnecessary it would seem but feel free to give them a bit of a rest before poaching.