A couple of weeks ago my friend Dave suggested we make bagels. I have to admit, I was scared. My experiences with yeast have all ended in failure unless I was working under the supervision of my lovely sister. But Dave insisted that he had successfully made bagels and I could too, and with such encouragement I was happy to try.
It took a while. We made some mistakes. Ok, we made a lot of mistakes. But soon, we had created a baker’s dozen of beautiful, BIG bagels. Except one ugly, wrinkly, misshaped mistake of a bagel, which we immediately rejected and disowned (never have a I felt so much loathing for a baked good), and which finally found sanctuary in Elliott’s tummy.
So, slightly adapted from several different recipes, I give you my bagel recipe:
4 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
3 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
30 g/ 1 oz yeast (not instant). This is about 3 packages.
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups warm water
Add yeast and sugar to 1/2 cup warm water and allow to dissolve. Put rest of water aside.
Mix together flour and salt in large bowl. Add yeast mixture and olive oil and mix to form dough. If it is too dry, add the rest of the water (but carefully, don’t pour in 3 cups of water right off the bat and then have to add a billion more cups of flour like some people I was baking with).
Once it has the consistency of a nice dough, dump onto floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes. It’s nice to have a buddy for this part as it is tough on the arms (but think: you have to work out before you eat all those bagels). Divide into 8 or so equally sized balls (smaller than you think, they are going to grow!!!). Let lumps of dough rest for 10 to 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 220 C, 425 F.
Meanwhile, listen to some music. Read a book. Do homework. Watch an episode of Community.
When dough has hung out for a bit, roll out lumps individually into snakes and wrap it around your dominant rolling hand, as one of the recipes said. I had no idea I had a dominant rolling hand. Weird. When it is a circle around your hand, squish together the ends. The first ones will look funny, but you’ll get the hang of it. When all your circles are ready, let sit in a warm place (like on top of the preheating oven) for 20 more minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a big pot of water to boil (with salt) and grease a baking sheet. When the pot is boiling and the bagels have grown and look all puffy, throw a couple in the pot. They should float comfortably at the top. Boil them for a minute, turn them over and boil for one more minute on the other side. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to pull them out and lay them on the baking sheet. Add some salt to the top, and if you like sprinkle on some seeds. We added lots and lots of poppy seeds, which was delicious but messy.
When all the bagels are boiled, place them all on the baking sheet and throw them in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, flip and bake for 10 more. But if you have added a topping, you don’t have to flip them and loose all your seeds. You can easily bake them about 20 minutes on the same side, until they look bagel coloured and yummy.
Now is the time to eat them. Go ahead, do it.
Things you could add to these bagels: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, blueberries, cinnamon and raisins, chocolate chips, herbs and spices, garlic, cheese, etc.