|Bagels under kitchen paper|
The recipe I used is from The Bread Baker's Apprentice and there's a good account of bagels being made from this recipe on the excellent amateur bakers' website, The Fresh Loaf - although I take issue with the writer's jaunty exclamation of how easy it is to make them. There are seven processes and the whole thing takes two days. Which is bonkers - though I did manage it. (My thanks to Marian Binkley - anthropologist and superior baker - for steering me towards this recipe.)
I'm not going to write down the whole method as it's on The Fresh Loaf. Instead, I thought I'd fill in one or two gaps between this and the description in the original book, and add my own commentary of how it went - which was not all according to plan.
Both the book and the website are American so, before the commentary, there's a UK-friendly ingredients list. (Does anybody else wonder how US cup measurements work? There's never any guide to exactly how much they should contain. Do you round a cup measurement? Or should they be level? And if there is no definitive answer, are American bakers more skilful than British ones? Or do they just use witchcraft?) Thankfully, the book had ounce measurements as well as cups, so I was able to convert them easily.
3.5g (1 teaspoon) fast-action yeast
510g strong white bread flour
550ml (1 pint) water at room temperature
1.5g (half a teaspoon) fast-action yeast
490g strong white bread flour
1 tablespoon malt extract (or honey, or brown sugar)
1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
Semolina flour, for dusting
Topping of choice - seeds, salt, minced garlic or onions, etc...
Commentary on The Fresh Loaf method
The 'sponge' is the first thing you make. Mix the ingredients in a large bowl, using a whisk until it has formed a thick, smooth, stretchy, gluey batter. Cover the bowl with a tea towel, or cling film, and leave it to stand for 2 hours, during which time it should roughly double in size. It will collapse a bit when you bang the bowl on the tabletop.
|Dry, heavy dough before kneading|
|Here's me, shaping a bagel |
Make the hole bigger than you
think is sensible
Immediately shape into 12 x 125g rolls, then make these into bagel shapes, as described, and cover with damp kitchen paper. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Once the bagels have rested, lay them on two baking trays lined with oiled greaseproof paper, put each try into a clean plastic bag, and leave to rest for another 20 minutes.
Put both trays-in-the-bag in the fridge overnight, where the bagels will rise slowly.
Next day, turn on the oven to 250C (500F, gas 9). Bring a large pan of water to boil and follow the instructions given on The Fresh Loaf. Dan and I really enjoyed this bit. There's something ever-so-slightly risky about turning bits of dough in wildly boiling water - especially when you're 9.