Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Wholemeal Bagels

Out of the saucepan into the oven!

I think the best bagel I ever ate was in New York in 2004.  It was gorgeous, untoasted, unscooped, and filled with goats cheese.  It was light, fluffy and had this beautiful ever so slight crunch as you bit into it.  It was good, but has ruined practically every bagel I have eaten since then. 

Much like the cakey/fudgy argument with brownies, there is a certain divide between bagel fans.  My best friend Jewish and she certainly has her view on bagels too! So I’m trying to recreate that 2004 bagel.  Trying to make a bagel that my best friend will enjoy.  Trying to create something that doesn’t resemble those insipid ones you can buy at the supermarket. 

I didn’t even come close to recreating it but I don’t think I’ll ever buy bagels again… These were really yummy! Well I might buy them from here, they are gorgeous from that little shop!

350gr strong wholemeal bread flour
Two big pinches of salt
1 egg (separated)
250ml warm water (possibly more)
1 packet of easy blend yeast (7grams)

1, Separate the egg and gently whisk the white with a fork or a mini whisk until it has broken down a bit
2, Sift the flour into a large bowl with the yeast and the salt.
3, Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg yolk, half of the egg white (whisking it a bit makes it easy to divide) and 150ml or so of the water.
4, Stir together adding more water until it forms a soft dough, you might need to add more water
5,Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 6-10minutes until the dough is soft and pliable and in no way sticky. 
6, Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with clingfilm.  Leave in a warm place for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
7, When it has doubled, turn back out onto the floured worktop and knock it back (hit it with your fist, it’s satisfying) and give it another quick knead but only for a couple of minutes.
8, Divide the dough into between 8 or 10 pieces and form flattened balls with your hands.  Leave them to relax for 5 minutes and then poke a hole through them with your finger or a wooden spoon handle.  I would recommend making the holes quite big, they will need a further rise before cooking and my bagel holes got a bit small in the process!
9, Place them on a lined baking tray, cover lightly with some greased cling film or a damp tea towel and put back in the warm place for 20-30 minutes
10, Turn on your oven to 220o/c and in the meantime put your biggest saucepan on the hob and fill with boiling water.  Reduce the heat so the water is just simmering. 
11, Pop two of the bagels at a time into the saucepan and gently simmer them for a minute and a half, turning after 45 seconds.  Remove them and give them a quick shake.  I did think by hooking them out with chopsticks.  Place them on a lined baking tray
12, When all the bagels have been briefly boiled, take the remaining half of the egg white and whisk into it 2 tsp of cold water and a tiny pinch of salt.   Brush this over the bagels.  At this point you can sprinkle over caraway seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds or cumin seeds (my personal favourite! I buy them in bulk at the local Indian cash and carry!)
13, Bake them for 20-30minutes or until they are golden brown.
14, Transfer them to a cooling rack.  I think they are best eaten warm, fresh out the oven! 

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