Monday 27 August 2007


Thanks to some noisy neighbours I didn’t have a very good nights sleep on Saturday. They were playing thumping music to how knows what time. There were even one person when kept going ‘wahooo!’ which I found a bit odd. Also, they kept playing the same piece of music over and over. It would stop and I would think ‘Oh good its stopped’ and then it would start up again.

Either way I was feeling rather grumpy on Sunday morning. I don’t know about you, but one thing is almost guaranteed to put me in a good mood, and that is baking.

I decided to try my hand at making Bagels, something I have been longing to do ever since a group known as The Daring Bakers attempted them a couple of months ago. There is something quite therapeutic and satisfying about making bread. Watching the dough rise, the yeasty smell as it proves (which always reminds me of pouring hot milk over Weetabix in the winter months) and then the baking, which transforms it from a sticky pale dough to yummy golden brown bread.

I was very curious to see what effect pouching the dough in water prior to baking would have on the bagels. I have never done this to any yeasted product before. I thought the dough would be in danger of dissolving and breaking down but quite the contrary happened and it actually plumped up and became firm.

When The Daring Bakers made the bagels they left the dough plain and only used savory toppings which I am informed is traditional. However, I do like sweet bagels and flavoured dough bagels and while feeling in the creative mood I decided to experiment with a whole assortment of flavours and toppings. I ended up making 12 bagels, 6 sweet, 6 savoury, that were each unique in flavour. The flavours were as follows:
Apple & Cinnamon
Raisin & Mixed Spice
Fresh Blueberry
Dark Chocolate Marble
Cranberry & White Chocolate Chunks
Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate Chunks, Apple & Mixed Spice (it was a case of using up the leftover ingredients.
Plain Bagel topped with Cheese
Pumpkin & Sunflower Seed
Sun Dried Tomato
Last but not least, a traditional Plain Bagel

My bagels turned out quite large and were not all uniformly round, but this made have a very home made look to them. They had a great thin crispy golden crust with a dense but soft dough inside. They tasted so much better than those long life bagels that are available in supermarkets. I may have to keep making my bagels from now on. Thankfully they freeze well. The recipe states to use dried yeast but I used 45g of fresh yeast as it was all I had and seemed to work fine. The morning of bagel making cheered me up no end and I don’t care what anyone says, flavoured bagels taste good.

Below is the recipe that I used and that I have taken from Meeta’s blog ‘what’s for lunch honey.’

600-800g (6-8 cups) bread (high-gluten) flour
30g (4 tablespoons) dry baking yeast
130g (6 tablespoons) light honey or granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups hot water
Vegetable oil
Water to boil the bagel in
3-5 tablespoons malt syrup or sugar
A couple handfuls of cornmeal
Step 1- Proof Yeast:
Pour three cups of hot water into the mixing bowl. The water should be hot, but not so hot that you can't bear to put your fingers in it for several seconds at a time. Add the sugar or honey and stir it with your fingers or with a wire whisk to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water, and stir to dissolve.Wait about ten minutes for the yeast to begin to revive and grow.

Step 2- Make Dough:
At this point, add about three cups of flour as well as the 2 tsp of salt to the water and yeast and begin mixing it in. Use your hands for this as you really get the perfect feel for the consistency of the dough. If you are not keen on using your hands then a wooden spoon will also work.When you have incorporated the first three cups of flour, the dough should begin to become thickish. Add more flour, a half-cup or so at a time, and mix each addition thoroughly before adding more flour. As the dough gets thicker, add less and less flour at a time.

Step 3- Knead Dough:
Knead the dough on a clean, dry, flat counter top. Sprinkle your work surface with a handful of flour, put your dough on top, and start kneading. Add bits of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, or counter top. Keep kneading until the dough is nice and stiff. This may take 8 to 10 minutes. It will be quite elastic, but heavy and stiffer than a normal bread dough. It should not be too dry, however, it should still give and stretch easily without tearing.

Step 4- Let Dough Rise:
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a clean and damp kitchen towel. Swish the dough around in the bowl to coat the whole ball of dough with a very thin film of oil. This will keep it from drying out.Place the bowl with the dough in it in a dry, warm (but not hot) place, free from drafts. Allow it to rise until doubled in volume. Some people try to accelerate rising by putting the dough in the oven, where the pilot lights keeps the temperature slightly elevated. If you choose to do this, remember to leave the oven door open or it may become too hot and begin to kill the yeast and cook the dough. An ambient temperature of about 25 degrees C (80F) is ideal for rising dough.

Step 5- Prepare Water for Bagels:
While the dough is rising, fill the stockpot with water and set it on the heat to boil. When it reaches a rolling boil, add the sugar (or malt syrup) and reduce the heat so that the water just barely simmers; the surface of the water should hardly move.
Step 6- Form Bagels:
Once the dough has risen, turn it onto the work surface, punch it down, and divide immediately into as many chunks as you want to make bagels. With this recipe, I got 12 bagels. You can not flavour the the dough or incorporate added ingreidnets or leave plain and add toppings later for more traditional bagels. Begin forming the bagels. There are two schools of thought on this. One method of bagel formation involves shaping the dough into a rough sphere, then poking a hole through the middle with a finger and then pulling at the dough around the hole to make the bagel. This is the hole-centric method. I used this method, as the dough is so easy to work with and allows you to shape and punch holes into the balls very easily. What I did was punch my thumb through the center of each roll and then rotated the dough, working it so that the bagel is as even in width as possible. I also dusted my fingers and then the middle of the hole to prevent it from closing.

The dough-centric method involves making a long cylindrical "snake" of dough and wrapping it around your hand into a loop and mashing the ends together. This method seems to be a little trickier as care must be taken that the ends do not come undone when boiling the rolls so, that you have bagel loafs instead of rolls. Do not worry if the bagels are not perfectly shaped or symmetrical. This is normal. The diversity adds to the rustic look of the bagels and each bagel is unique.
Step 7- Pre-heat Oven:
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400F).
Step 8- Half Proof and Boil Bagels:
Once the bagels are formed, let them rest for about 10 minutes. They will begin to rise slightly. Ideally, they will rise by about one-fourth volume. This technique is called "half-proofing" the dough. At the end of the half-proofing, drop two or three bagels into the simmering water, making sure not to overcrowd them in the pot.The bagels should sink first, then gracefully float to the top of the simmering water. Mine did not sink, they floated but it didn’t seem to effect the bagel.Let the bagel simmer for about three minutes, then turn them over with a skimmer or a slotted spoon. Simmer another three minutes, and then lift the bagels out of the water and set them on a clean kitchen towel that has been spread on the counter top to drain. The bagels should be puffed up and shiny, thanks to the malt syrup or sugar in the boiling water.

Step 9- Bake Bagels:
Once all the bagels have been boiled, prepare a baking sheet by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal. You can not top the bagels with cheese, seeds or herbs before baking. Top with seeds etc then arrange the bagels on the prepared baking sheet and put them in the oven. (I did mine in two batches). Let them bake for about 25 minutes, then remove from the oven, turn them over and put them back in the oven to finish baking for about 5 minutes more. This will help to prevent flat-bottomed bagels.Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks. Do not attempt to cut them until they are cool. Hot bagels slice abominably and you'll end up with a wadded mass of bagel pulp. Don't do it.

Makes 12-15 bagels.


Gigi said...

Bravo!Your bagels look delicious!

Peabody said...

Yeah, I really wanted to make sweet bagels when we did these! Yours look good.

Jim said...

Hello Katie,
Your bagels look very nice.
I just made a bagel video a few days ago. I thought you might like it. Its called Naked Bagels.