So I am following on from yesterday’s everything seasoning with my recipe for bagels. Bagels: chewy, soft, delicious bagels. As I said yesterday 20 years ago I had the best bagel I have ever eaten. I have spent a long time trying to recreate the chew and dense but soft inside of the perfect bagel.
There are so many recipes out there and so many methods, but I have combined everything I have read and created my own New York Style bagels.
So often when you buy a bagel, it is just a bread roll with a hole in it. Perfectly tasty but not a bagel. The point of a bagel is the chew! Putting a hole in a bread roll does not make it a bagel! I would go as far as to say that a bagel is not about the hole at all!!! Too far? Okay, well the chew and dense crumb is more important than the hole…that is as far back as I am prepared to resend.
I love everything bagels, but I will happily eat any type of bagel. As long as I can spread it with cream cheese I am happy, or toast it and spread it with butter, or stuff it with smoked salmon, or avocado….hmmm okay so picking a single way to eat a bagel is hard!!! And when you can make a batch at home with a few cheap ingredients why pick?
This isn’t a super quick recipe, but it is straight forward and for most of the time you can get on with other things. Ideally you want a flour with a high gluten content. These are often labeled as bread flour or high protein flour. They will give you an even better quality of crumb, however most of the time I use supermarket homebrand plain flour (it is 1/4 of the price!) and it still gives great results.
This is a very stiff dough, and I get best result when I use my stand mixer. You can knead it by hand but it is a definite workout! I have found the key to getting the dough stiff is to reserve a small amount of flour and then add that once the dough has come together. The stand mixer makes a great job of this. A word of note. If you have a kitchen aid, set the speed to 1. Kitchen aid recommend kneading bread dough on nothing more than speed 2. As this is a very stiff dough, I don’t want to overwork my motor so I keep it at speed 1. The dough still comes together beautifully.
When I make my pizza dough or my milk bread rolls, I use instant yeast and start working with it straight away. But I have found that doesn’t work so well with the stiff bagel dough. So I add some warm water to my bowl, tip in the yeast and sugar and then leave it to sit for 10 minutes. No stirring, just allowing it to dissolve and start to bloom. After 10 minutes you will find you have a wonderful foamy mixture. This method also has the added advantage of putting water in first which stops your flour sticking to the bottom of your bowl.
There are two methods for shaping the dough into the instantly recognisable bagel shape. One is to roll a sausage shape and then join the ends to create a ring. I think this method to be pretty unreliable. I get oddly shaped bagels and some times they break apart so you end up with a ‘C’ shaped bagel! My prefered method is to roll it into a ball and then use my fingers to poke a hole through the midde. Then I stretch and pull the bagel until I have a hole about the size of a 20c piece.
The last and most import step to create the perfect bagel is to boil them. This has two important rolls. It gives you the crispy chewy crust and it also stops the bagels from rising any more, which gives you the lovely dense soft inside. This is the reason I boil my bagels for so long. I boil mine for 3 minutes a side and I think it is perfect.
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Perfect NY Style Bagels
- 125 ml warm water
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp raw sugar (see notes)
- 175 ml warm water
- 500 g plain flour (see notes)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp warm water
- 3 tbsp flour
- small amount of oil
- 1 tbsp raw sugar
- Pour the 125ml of warm water into the bowl of your stand mixer, add the yeast and sugar. Do NOT stir it, just leave it for 10 minutes.
- Pour the 500g of flour into the bowl and sprinkle over the salt.
- Add the 175ml of warm water, and mix with your dough hook on speed 1. (see notes)
- Once a rough dough has formed add the remaining tablespoon of water and let the dough form a sticky wet mass.
- Once this has happened, add the additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
- The mixture will look very dry. Don't panic!
- Leave the stand mixer kneading for 15 minutes, by which time you will have stiff but elastic dough.
- I find that I need to stop the mixer periodically to push the dough back down to the bottom of the machine.
- Lightly coat a large mixing bowl with oil.
- Throw in your dough and turn to coat it in the oil.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside somewhere warm to rise. (I have a warming setting on my oven that is set at 35ºC, so I just put it in the oven.
- Leave the dough to rise for an hour and a half. It should swell to about twice it's size.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220ºC/Fan forced 200ºC/Gas mark 7.
- Place the dough on a chopping board and work it into a rough ball.
- Cut it in half, cut each half in half and then cut each piece in half again so you have 8 equal sized pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough about so you have 8 ball shapes.
- Carefully push your finger through the middle of a ball and stretch the hole until it is 2cm wide.
- Place the bagel onto a piece of cooking paper and continue with all the balls.
- Leave the bagels to rest for 10 minutes whilst you bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add the sugar to the water.
- Place 2 bagels into the boiling water and set your timer for 3 minutes. After the 3 minutes flip them over and boil on the other side for 3 minutes.
- If you want to add a topping now is the time. Spread a thin layer of your chosen topping over a small plate. As you remove the bagel from the water, dip it into the topping and then place on a baking sheet lined with cooking paper. I find I need two baking trays (each with 4 bagels on)
- Place the bagels into the middle of the oven and bake for 20 minutes until they are golden brown.
- If your using two trays switch them over half way through cooking.
- Remove from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack.
- These are best eaten the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight containing for 24 hours.
Kitchen aid recommend kneading bread dough on nothing more than speed 2.
As this is a very stiff dough, I don't want to overwork my motor so I keep it at speed 1.
The dough still comes together beautifully.
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