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
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 ready, you divide it up into how many bagels you want. This mixture makes eight regular sized bagels, but I have made more mini ones. I roll each piece of dough between my palms to make a ball. I rest them for a few minutes (in reality you can start on the first one by the time you’ve done the last one if you follow), then roll them into sausage shapes and loop the ends around. This isn’t a regular bagel shape – none of that perfect roundness – but honestly once baked you won’t care. It’s the best way, I’ve found, of keeping the hole intact.
As you shape them, place each one on a lightly oiled baking tray or one with baking parchment on it – make sure they’re not touching or you’ll have a hard job separating them and they might 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 – and I regularly do – 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. OR if you’re like me and have one of those reusable baking sheets that you used to prove the bagels on, you just now put them back on them. 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 12-15 mins (this is in my oven, yours may differ). 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. They freeze really well – just freeze when cooked to have lovely fresh bagels another day!
|The shaping is getting better..