Baking Bagels – Not As Hard As You Think

Bagels are delicious and not as hard to make as you might think.

Bread making has been going on around here for a few years now, not a single loaf comes from the shops. Plain everyday loaves are baked regularly and but every now and then it’s good to ring the changes and a challenge to try something new and a little more tricky.

Bagels, or Beigels have been around for hundreds of years. They originated in the Jewish communities of eastern Europe, particularly Poland. Emigration took them to America, especially New York. Areas of concentrated Jewish immigration elsewhere (like the East End of London) also have a long and rich bagel food culture.

These may not be the best thing to try if you’re a first time bread maker. But if you’re familiar with the basic principles then bagels are well worth giving a go. Basically they are just slightly sweet bread rolls (albeit a different shape) with one extra (and crucial stage) – BOILING before baking. This give bagels their distinctive chewy texture.

This recipe will make 10 bagels.

Ingredients:

  • 500g bread flour
  • 1 sachet fast action yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar (or caster sugar)
  • About 300ml lukewarm water
  • Egg white for glaze
  • Seeds for topping (optional) eg poppy seeds or sesame seeds

Method:

  • Add the salt, sugar and yeast to the flour (salt or one side, yeast on the other. Make a dough with about 300ml of warm water and knead until smooth and springy (about 10 minutes).
  • Cover in a bowl covered with cling film and prove somewhere warm for about 1 hour (or unitl doubled in size).
  • Knock back the dough. Weigh out into 10 equal portions and roll these into balls. Place on 2 oiled baking trays.
  • Leave for the second prove until puffed up again (about 30 mins).
  • This is the weird bit! Fill a large sauce and ring it to the boil. Some people add a spoon or bicarb (not sure why).
  • Using floured fingers, gently push a hole through the middle of a ball and shape into a doughnut. Place one or two bagels at a time into the water and boil for 1 or 2 minutes. The longer you leave them in the chewier the texture will be.
  • Drain well and put back onto the trays. Glaze with egg white and sprinkle with seeds if you want to.
  • Bake at 200 degrees C, Gas mark 6 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

And there you have it – 10 delicious bagels ready for the filling of your choice. They will keep for a day or two – or they freeze really well.