Sunday, August 7, 2011

hey bagel

This was bagel Sunday. After a week of dreaming about them, and gazing wistfully at photos of them on my pinterest board, I finally succumbed this weekend just gone and made bagels - one of the dough wonders I had yet to try at home.

With their crisp outers and chewy interiors, it was far too easy to eat two in quick succession and then I rested, hands on satisfied belly and thought - why have I not made these before?

These beauties are not hard to make but they do take a little bit of time and preparation so they're perfect for a weekend when you're pottering around at home. You can do some prep work and then make yourself a cup of tea, do some more steps, then relax with a good movie (may I suggest The American or Submarine - two very good films I saw on the weekend).
Adapted from Peter Reinhardt via The Wednesday Chef
Makes 6 to 8 bagels

3 1/2 cups all-purpose plain flour
3 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup warm water plus 2 tablespoons extra water
1 teaspoon baking soda
Poppy or sesame seeds

Firstly, dissolve the yeast together with the honey in the warm water and let rest for a few minutes. Then mix together the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, the yeast/honey/water mixture until the ingredients form a stiff ball of dough (adding a little extra water if necessary), then let it rest for a few minutes.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes until it feels more pliable and smooth.

Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to several hours.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and remove your dough from the fridge.  Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (I just flattened the dough out and cut it like a cake into quarters and then eighths) and form each piece into a round ball by rolling it on a clean, dry surface. Now roll each dough ball into a long, sausage shape about 20cm in length. Pinch the ends together to form the round bagel shape, using a slight dab of water to get the ends to stick if necessary. You can then squeeze the bagel to even out the thickness although the unevenness gives a bit more of a rustic feel, if you ask me.  Now pop your bagels onto the prepared tray, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Here's where you can pop in a movie and settle in for a relaxing night, knowing you'll be having fresh bagels for breakfast.

In the morning, take the bagels out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to bake them. Fill a large pot with water, cover and bring to the boil. Once the water has boiled, add 1 teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and reduce the heat to a simmer. Meanwhile, put the oven on and heat to 220 degrees centigrade.

Test the bagels by placing one in a bowl of cold water. You want it to float to the surface. If it doesn't, let them sit for 10 minutes and try again. Once your bagel floats, you're ready to roll.

Gently ease each bagel into the simmering water, adding as many as will fit comfortably without overcrowding. Poach for 1 minute and then turn the bagels over with a wooden spoon. Leave them in for another minute then, using a slotted spoon, remove the bagels and return to the lined baking tray.  Sprinkle your bagels with poppy seeds or sesame seeds or nothing if you prefer then pop your baking trays in the oven for 8 minutes.

After 8 minutes has elapsed, rotate the sheets and continue baking for another 8-10 minutes, until the bagels are golden brown. Around this time the most wondrous bready smell will begin to permeate the house. Get your lox and cream cheese ready. Remove the trays from the oven and transfer the bagels to a rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. And oh the joys of serving and smothering in butter or cream cheese, or lox or marmalade or whatever really.


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