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After months of plucking up the courage to try making bagels I finally took the plunge and was surprised to find them unexpectedly straightforward to make. I was partly encourged by the bagels made on a recent episode of The Great British Bake-Off, which you can see here, and partly by the thought of my upcoming holiday to New York in a couple of weeks.

Obviously you can put anything on top of the bagels; I just happened to have sesame seeds in the house. Poppy seeds, minced fried onion or garlic all go well. And you can also put things in the dough to flavour the bagels like dried fruit, chilli or spices; be inventive!

Dough

500g strong white flour

1½ tsp salt

1 tbsp runny honey

1 tbsp olive oil

1 x 7g sachet instant yeast

240ml tepid water

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp vegemite (or marmite)

Topping

1 tspn brown sugar

1 lightly beaten egg for glazing

100g toasted sesame seeds

Put all the dough ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix to a stiff dough. Turn out onto a floured worktop and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 75g each), roll each one into a neat ball, and put on a floured board, cover with oiled cling film and set aside to prove for 25 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.

When the dough has doubled in size, make a hole in the centre of each ball using your thumb, stretching the hole quite large with your fingers so it doesn’t reseal.

Cover the bagels and set aside for about another 35 minutes, to prove a second time. Preheat the oven to 230C and spread the sesame seeds out on a plate. Bring a large saucepan of water up to the boil and dissolve the brown sugar in it. Drop the bagels in to poach in batches (3 per go was about right for me, bearing in mind that they increase in size considerably in the water) for 1½ minutes per side (the longer they poach, the chewier the crusts are in the end).

Scoop the bagels out with a slotted spoon and put on a cooling rack to dry slightly. Glaze the bagels with beaten egg and dip one side of each bagel into the plate of sesame seeds.

Line two baking trays with parchment paper and grease with oil. Place the poached bagels on the baking trays with room in between and bake in the preheated oven. After 10 minutes, swap the trays round in the oven (so that the bagels that were at the top are now at the bottom and vice versa) and bake for a further eight minutes.

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