Wednesday, 19 November 2014


I don't live near anywhere that sells a decent bagel, so if I want one without having to make a long trip, I make them myself. By decent, I mean chewy and slightly sweet, not the dry bread rolls with a hole in which is all I have ever been able to get from a supermarket. 

Bagels aren't hard to make, if  you have an electric mixer with a dough hook. You could make them by hand, but it would be a real upper body work out to knead the dough- it's so dry and dense it takes at least 10 minutes using a machine to knead the dough to the requisite smooth texture. Perhaps if you are stuck doing it by hand, get a friend to take turns with. 

The recipe I use (Nigella's) gives the dough a one hour rise at room temperature, I often let the dough rise overnight in the fridge instead. This way, if you want bagels for brunch, you can make up the dough the night before, and just have to do the shaping, poaching and baking the next day. I have made it both ways- the one hour rise, and the slow rise in the fridge- and haven't noticed any difference in the results. 

For shaping the bagels, I find it easiest to get a ball of dough, make a hole in it with my index finger, and gently widen it. The suggested method- having a strip of dough, curling it round into a circle and sealing the edges doesn't really work for me- my seals usually break, and I end up with 'C' shaped bagels. Another blogger suggested using a small round cookie cutter to cut out a hole, which I think is a great idea, and I would have tried it if I had the right sized cutter.

1 kg of white flour, plus more as necessary for kneading 1 tablespoon of salt
7g of easy yeast or 15g of fresh yeast
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
500mL warm water, plus more as needed
2 tablespoon of malt extract or sugar, for poaching the bagels (I got malt extract at Holland and Barrets)
2-3 baking sheets, oiled or greased

Combine the flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl, add the sugar and the oil to the water. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid, mixing to a dough with a spatula or wooden spoon. Knead the dough either by hand or with dough hook, trying to add more flour if you can, dough is better drier than wetter, the dough will be stiff and hard work, even with the dough hook it takes 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and put it into an oiled bowl, turning once to coat all around, then cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it to rise for 1 hour. It should be well risen, and when you poke it with your finger , the impression should remain.

 Punch the dough down and then give a good knead and divide into 3 pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a rope then cut each rope into 5 pieces. Roll each piece between the palms of your hands into a ball and then roll into another rope, curling to form a ring. Seal the ends by overlapping (or use my suggested method, above)

Put on a large pan of water to boil, when it boils add the malt or the sugar.Sit the bagels on the baking sheets cover with tea towels and leave for 20 minutes by which times they should be puffy. Preheat oven to 240C.

When the waters boiling, start poaching, drop a couple of bagels at a time into the boiling water and boil for 1 minute turning them once, use a couple of spatulas for this. As you poach them put them back onto the oiled baking sheets, well spaced and then bake for 10-15 minutes until they're shiny and golden brown.

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