Bagels

There is something particularly satisfying about making bagels. I’m not sure whether it is the anticipation of eating them, or the peculiar joy in boiling the dough before cooking but either way home made bagels are a favourite of mine. I tried two different methods for shaping the bagels – the more traditional method of rolling them and the modern method of punching a hole in the middle. Both work, but as is often the case the traditional method is a little more time consuming and includes the risk of making unravelled bagels.

Serves: Makes 6-8 bagels

Timing: 2-6 hours preparation and resting time, a night in the fridge, approximately 2 and a hours to prepare them for baking/baking the following day.

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups bakers flour
+ 3 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
+ 3/4 teaspoon of instant yeast
+ 1 tablespoon of honey
+ 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of slightly warm water
+ 1 teaspoon of baking soda
+ 1 egg white, optional
+ Seeds to put on top!


Method

THE DAY BEFORE YOU EAT BAGELS

Mix together the flour, 2 teaspoons of the salt, the yeast, honey, and the water until everything begins to form into dough. You can use a mixer if you like, but it’s simpler by hand. It’ll be a stiff dough, as there’s not much water, but this makes it sturdy enough to withstand a dunk in boiling water later. Feel free to add a bit more water if necessary, but you shouldn’t need much.

Let the dough rest for 5 minutes before kneading. Knead on a floured surface for about 3 minutes — the dough will get smooth, but will still be a little tacky. Bring together into a ball and place into an oiled boil, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it hang in the fridge for a few hours, or at least an hour. I’ve done both and they worked out just fine each time.

When you’re ready to shape the bagels, remove the dough from the fridge, and cut it into 6 or 8 pieces. 6 pieces if you like your bagels to be meal sized, 8 if you like them a bit smaller. Form each piece of dough into a ball, and select your preferred method to shape your bagels before placing your shaped bagels on a tray lined with lightly greased parchment paper.

  • The traditional way: roll each ball into a log approximately twenty-five centimetres long, with tapered ends. Be careful to not use any flour, as you will need sticky dough in order to join your bagel together. Place one end of the dough between your thumb and forefinger, then wrap it around your fingers to bring the two ends of the dough together. They should overlap by around 10 centimetres. Squeeze this seam to bind it together, before rolling on your bench top to enhance the seal. Repeat for all your bagels.
  • Or the unconventional way: flatten each of your dough balls and take between two hands. Using your thumbs, create a hole in the centre of your bagel. Continue to stretch the dough to create the bagel shape by rotating the dough, and moving your thumbs apart.  Repeat for all your bagels.

Cover your bagels with plastic wrap. before placing them in the fridge to proof overnight.

THE DAY YOU EAT BAGELS

About an hour an a half before you want to bake them, pull the bagels out of the fridge to come to room temperature. I will normally set an alarm for earlier in the morning, stumble into the kitchen to remove the bagels from the fridge before returning to bed.

After around an hour, bring to boil at least 10 centimetres of water in a large pot. When it boils, add 1 teaspoon of salt and the baking soda, then turn it down to a simmer. Now, heat your oven to 260°C.

Test the bagels are ready for baking by using the float test: fill a bowl with cold water, and place one bagel in it. If it floats, they’re all ready to go. If not, you haven’t failed: just return it to the baking sheet and let proof for 15-20 minutes more, then do the test again.

When they are ready, carefully drop as many bagels as can fit side by side into your pot of simmering water. Let poach for 1 minute, before flipping with a slotted spoon. Poach for thirty seconds more, before returning to the baking sheet.

Sprinkle your boiled bagels with whatever topping you want. To help your toppings stick, use an egg white wash, but the residual water from the poach should do the trick, too. Seeds of all varieties are great, as is big flake or rock salt.

Finally, place your finished bagels into the oven and reduce the heat to 235°C. Bake for 8 minutes, rotate, and bake 8 to 12 minutes more, until the bagels are golden brown. Feel free to check the bottom of the bagels as they cook — if they’re getting too brown, just stick another baking sheet underneath them.

Remove from the oven, and ideally wait an excruciating 30 minutes before you eat them. I have eaten one sooner, and the world continues on.

Original recipe sourced from Food 52.

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