Saturday, 30 August 2014

Bagel bagel bagel

I have always wanted to try my hand at making bagels, but was put off thinking they were really hard to do. However, it turns out they are really quite simple to make.  Make a dough, prove it, portion it, shape it, stick a whole in it, boil it for next to no time, then bake!  So I began.

Four cups of plain flour, sifted into probably my biggest bowl. Add two teaspoons of dry yeast, a tablespoon of caster sugar, and some salt.  Stir together (I used the handle of a wooden spoon), make a well in the middle, then pour in 1 2/3 cups of warm water. Move that around with said wooden spoon handle until it seems like a cohesive mass.  Turn out onto the counter, sprinkle over some more flour and knead like a crazy woman for, oh, about 10 minutes.  Kneading is actually very therapeutic. You become one with the dough, pushing it about, turning it, turning it over, pushing it about some more, all while sprinkling a little flour here and there. Pop the dough blob into an oiled bowl (oiled, so it comes out easier) cover it with cling film (aka Glad Wrap), cover again with a tea towel and put somewhere warm to do its thing.  This turned out to be near a window with the sun streaming in.  It doubled in size in an hour and a half.

Prepare the oven. 160 degrees fan forced, or 180 degrees.

Next, the fun part.  Sprinkle some flour onto the counter, then unfurl the dough mass from the bowl (remember now why you oiled it!) and push into a roundish like shape.  You need to now cut this soft pillow into twelve (roughly) equal portions. Take each portion and roll in our hands so its ball like.  Poke your finger in the middle of each, and softly spin them around your finger until the hole widens. Flatten them slightly and place onto a tray covered with baking paper. You will need two trays, six bagels to each tray. Let them rest for ten minutes or so.

Next, the boiling.  Get a large pot of water on a medium boil.  Pop three of the bagels in at the same time and boil them on each side for twenty seconds.  Some say that boiling longer will give a chewier texture. For my first try, I stuck to the twenty second instruction and they turned out fantastic, chewy, but soft and bready. Pop them back onto their original trays.

Then brush each one with a mix of beaten egg and water. Sprinkle them with whatever you like! I did some with sesame seeds, some with a mix of parmesan cheese and tasty cheese, some with cheese plus onion powder, and a couple were left plain. Verdict? Delicious! I was very surprised they came out tasting, looking, smelling and feeling like bought bagels.

I am one very happy home baker!

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