Bagels, who doesn’t love them? A popular derivative of the bread family, bagels are perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks…. basically anytime of day. Originating from Poland, they were taken to the US by Polish-Jews during the immigration boom, growing to become a thriving business in New York (and then across the rest of the States). The bagel business is also booming in the UK, however on a recent trip to the American Southwest, I was in heaven seeing the number of bagel shops offering a huge range of flavours. Since being back home, I have become slightly obsessed with re-creating some of the wonderful tastes I experienced, so where better to start than mastering the basic bagel recipe. It was a little more fiddlely than making bread, but if you have the patience (which bread making requires anyway), then it is definitely worth a try.
Vegetable oil for greasing
350g strong white flour (plus extra for dusting)
2 tsp salt
7g easy-blend dried yeast (1 sachet)
1 medium egg (lightly beaten)
200ml lukewarm water
1 egg white
2 tsp water
Handful of poppy and sunflower seeds
Sift the flour and salt in a bowl together and mix in the yeast. Make a well in the middle and pour in the beaten egg and lukewarm water. The best way to test lukewarm water is to dip your (clean) little finger into the water and it should feel just warm. Mix all the ingredients together to form a dough ball – best done with your hands. Place the dough ball on a lightly floured surface and flour the palms of your hand (but not too much flour as you do not want to make the dough too dry).
Knead the dough by pushing the it out in one direction with the heel of your hand, then folding it back in on itself. Turn the ball a quarter clockwise and repeat. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth, and then shape into a ball. Grease the inside of a large bowl, place the dough in it and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise until it has doubled in size (roughly 1 hour in a warm kitchen or 2 hours at room temperature).
Once it has risen, remove the tea towel and punch the dough which release the excess air (my favourite part!). Drop the dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead for a few more minutes and then shape into 10 even shaped pieces. Shape the pieces into balls and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
Gently flatten each ball with your hand, then make a hole in the centre using the end of a wooden spoon (lightly floured). Gently use your fingers to make the holes a little bigger without handling the dough too much. Flour a baking sheet, place the bagels on it and re-cover with the damp tea towel. Leave to rest in a warm place for about 20 minutes (or 40 minutes at room temperature).
Preheat the oven to 220C and grease 2 baking trays. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, then reduce the heat until the water is just simmering. Place two bagels in the water, poach for 1 minute, carefully turn over and poach on the other side for another 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a tea towel (not kitchen paper as it will stick to it). The poaching activates the yeast and gives the bagels that nice glossy sheen. Repeat until all the bagels are poached and drained.
Mix together the egg white and 2 teaspoons of water. Place the bagels on the greased baking trays and brush generously all over with the egg white mixture. Sprinkle the bagels with the poppy and sunflower seeds, being as generous as you want (my philosophy is ‘the more, the better’).
Bake in the oven for around 20 – 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack and enjoy as soon as you wish.
- Salted butter
- Jam (raspberry or strawberry works best)
- Cream cheese mixed with a teaspoon of honey and a few chopped walnuts