Bagels – not sourdough

These bagels are not just not sourdough, they’re made in a breadmaker. Nevertheless, here they are, all blousey and almost industrial compared to my artisan sourdough.

But look: they’re delicious. Nothing at all like bought bagels which may look surgically enhanced but are as interesting as dust to eat (although if you remember that fantastic sketch from Little Britain, dust is a valuable diet food…). The only memorable bagel I ever had out was at the Geffrye museum cafe, I had it with smoked salmon and a very fine cappuccino. A memorable little lunch that shows food doesn’t have to be fancy to be remembered.

So, my bagels. I’ve been making them for years and the recipe is from some bread machine book I had but adapted slightly (in what way I can’t remember now but anyway it works which is what matters). They don’t look pretty – ignore that and just enjoy the taste.

These are excellent for children – they just love them. In which case I make them smaller and end up with 12-16.

For eight large bagels you need:

2 teaspoons of dried yeast
450g strong white bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt – I grind up Maldon sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar – I use caster
230ml water, whatever temperature it comes out of the cold tap.

egg or malt wash – see later

baking tray
clean tea towels
saucepan and slotted spoon

I put it into my bread machine, which is a Panasonic bread machine and the only sort I recommend. Your bread machine may ask for the ingredients to go in in a different order but mine asks for the yeast first. You then select the dough cycle. Mine is 2hrs 20mins long. Be careful not to put it on a short dough cycle (mine also has one for pizza which is 45 mins long) as it won’t work.

In the meantime, get a baking tray

When the dough is done you take it out and scrunch off eight balls or more, smaller, ones. You then make a hole in the middle of the ball and stretch out the hole with your fingers. Lots of books advise you to make bagels by rolling a sausage shape out, and then securing the ends together. I’ve never found this works – the bagel always falls apart at the boiling stage. Next time I make them I’ll take a picture of this stage so you know what you’re working with. You should end up with what looks like a doughnut. It won’t look very pretty. Don’t worry.

As you make them, place each one on a lightly oiled baking tray – make sure they’re not touching or you’ll have a hard job separating them and they will collapse as you manhandle them. When they’re all shaped, leave them to rise, covered with a dry, clean [why do they always say this, does anyone use a dirty one?] tea-towel ** for about 10-30 mins (30mins if your kitchen is cold, 10mins if it’s warm or you put them in a warm place). There’s a lot of yeast in them so don’t overprove.

**Note here: you can also put them, at this stage, into a refrigerator overnight for their rise, and then go straight to boiling them. I think this gives them a nicer flavour and chewier texture and it also means you can have freshly baked bagels for breakfast.

Whilst they’re resting and puffing up, put a big saucepan of water onto boil and preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7. I use a casserole dish pan which is shallow, but wide. You don’t need the water to be deep deep, as the bagels will float, but if you have a wide aperture then you can get more in at once.

When they’re done and the water is on a rolling boil, put the bagels in to the pan. Unless your pan is a huge paella pan, you will have to do them in batches – that’s fine. You boil them for about 30 secs each side (so turn them over with the slotty spoon). Watch them puff up more. Take them out one at a time with the slotted spoon and place on a clean tea towel to drain them and do the next batch til they’re all done.

Either get a clean baking tray and oil it lightly, or wipe off the last one you used and re-oil it. But either way, place the boiled bagels onto the tray. It’s fine if they touch, because once cooked they’re more stable than at the proof stage, so you can tear them apart. But if you can do them so they don’t touch all the better. Mine are always crammed together as that’s the only way you can get them cooked all in one go and at this stage – i.e. proved and boiled – you don’t really want them hanging round waiting to be baked for longer than necessary.

Once the bagels are on the tray, you’re on the home run. Either make an egg wash of beaten egg, or use this fabulous dried malt extract which I mix up with some water and brush on. You can then either cook the bagels plain or scatter on some sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower, linseeds etc.

Cook for 15-20mins. They’ll be a lovely dark golden brown when they’re done.
These keep for a day or two but are best eaten on the day of being made and toasted thereafter.

An update on 24th June 2012.

The holes in my bagels were forever closing up on cooking, so after a while I addressed this problem. The best thing to do is, using the handle of a wooden spoon, make the hole a bit bigger just before baking them (i.e. after you’ve boiled them). I find you only have to do this a bit to get the hole more pronounced.

The shaping is getting better..

13 thoughts on “Bagels – not sourdough

  1. Lisa

    I've been dying for a decent bagel since I left Montreal (maybe they exist in places like London, but certainly not in my neck of the woods!) I'm definitely going to try these out for the kids – thanks!

    Reply
  2. Karen Fritschi

    These look very delicious, will definitely try. But first will be tackling sourdough. I'm a convert since moving to the US last year, here most of the bread is sweetened and quite disgusting. I found a bakery in LA (La Brea) that sells to local supermarkets, the sourdough is very very good and has inspired me to have a go at making my own.Not made bread since school, which was about 700 years ago. Will be getting my starter going from scratch this week, do you have any recommendations for flour type/brand/etc for starter or the bread itself?

    Reply
  3. Annalisa Barbieri

    Karen, hello. I use Waitrose organic strong bread flour so not much help to you. I believe you have King Arthur flour there which is very good? I'll ask my bread geek friends what they think, too.Lisa, keen to know what you think!

    Reply
  4. Joanna

    I would like a bag of those buglies for breakfast tomorrow please Annalisa. BTW You can find a lovely sourdough bagel recipe on Paul's Yumarama breadblog. They gave me the best bagels of my very limited experience of making them, I think I've made them three times all together. All that stuff with wooden boards, covered in cloth and wetted… far too complicated for me! I watched a lot of shaping videos and my favourite was a famous Montreal bakery whose name I've now forgotten, but I can go and fetch links if you want to know more. I've had those Montreal style bagels in Canada and I think they are the best but apparently they are almost impossible to replicate without the right oven… but they all say that don't they?

    Reply
  5. Karen Fritschi

    I need some help if you're able…I started a starter, it did well for about three days then just went dormant. I ditched it and started another one last Thursday, it did beautifully for two days and then day three (when it cooled down here) it stopped and is now flat and non-bubbly. Since then I've made sure it's kept in a warm room and have fed a little more flour (I used King Arthur btw, thanks for the recommendation) but it still looks dormant.I'm not sure how to revive, or if I start another one, how to keep them going? Not sure what I'm doing wrong so any help would be gratefully received.

    Reply
  6. Annalisa Barbieri

    Hello Karen, whose method are you following for a starter? To get it going takes about two weeks of feeding it every day. Once you've got a starter started, it does eventually lie dormant – you just revive it by discarding some and feeding it ("refreshing") it every day or even twice a day.I keep my starter in the fridge, but I use it at least every other day now. You can keep your starter in a cool place once it's going. If you keep it in a warm place it will exhaust itself quicker (if that makes sense)>

    Reply
  7. Karen Fritschi

    Thanks for the reply. It's a mystery to me.I'm mixing about a cup of flour with a cup of water to make a pancake batter consistency, leaving it in a ceramic bowl covered with a tea towel on the kitchen worth.The first two days it bubbled up and had the consistency of whipped egg whites, very light and frothy. Each day I discarded half and replenished with half a cup of flour and same of water, mixed then left in the same place. By day three it had gone dormant, no bubbles or signs of life. I'm not sure if that means it's actually died or just in a coma? And how do I revive it? And how can you tell when it's ready to use for baking?

    Reply
  8. Annalisa Barbieri

    Hi Karen. Your starter doesn't sound right. I think it's not old enough (it takes two weeks to get a starter going) and you're putting in too much water. It should be 100% flour to 80% water. The higher the hydration the more volatile it is so it will bubble up but then collapse. I really recommend you get Dan Lepard's book the Handmade loaf and/or visit his website (do a Google, can't link from my ipad). You want your starter to look stretchy and bubbly, but it needs to have structure to it, it shouldn't be like egg whites – you're using too much water IMO.

    Reply
  9. Karen Fritschi

    Thanks so much for the help, checked out the Dan Lepard site, have split the starter into two and used less water in both, used raisins in one as a test, and fed greater quantity of flour. Result: more stable looking starters, both nice and stretchy and not frothy, but bubbly and looking much more alive. The one with raisins slightly more viscous even though I've been strict about using the same quantities of flour and water so I can give them a fair comparison.Can't wait to bake with the stuff. Thanks again, I'll keep you posted on how the first loaf turns out.

    Reply
  10. Paula/Tim

    Hi AnnalisaI like your blog, especially the bread that keeps returning to the fridge for "extra proving" – I can identify with that. Thanks also for the new phrase "a finger of wine" which sounds completely innocent and sociable.Sourdough bagels are easy enough. Check out our blog for the way we do it at http://wantonflavours.blogspot.com/It's listed under sourdough. Not an original recipe, though I was experimenting with various flours at the time; now I don't bother, just use organic white + a handful of rye for texture. The key to good texture seems to be to prevent the bagels getting warm before the boiling water dunking stage, as this makes them bready rather than chewy.

    Reply
  11. Annalisa Barbieri

    Paula/Tim thanks so much. I'm going to give them a go. I had never heard about not letting them get warm to keep them chewy. I prove mine in the warming drawer (my non-sourdough ones) so will experiment!

    Reply

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