Alphabetti Kitchen challenge number two is for one of my all time favourite foods… the bagel. Now I, like many of us, usually turn to the nearest bakery aisle in the supermarket to get my bagel fix but the last time I was home my mum made her very own bagels and I was so impressed that I knew I would have to try to make my own one day.
So what better excuse than for Alphabetti Kitchen! I called up mum, got her to send over her ‘secret bagel recipe’ (it’s from one of her cookbooks at home but currently I don’t know which one so can’t recommend it to you!) and set out to make surprise Saturday morning bagels for my unsuspecting guinea pig Sam who was up visiting me in Edinburgh for the weekend… luckily I’ve found myself a wonderful man who is just as obsessed with bagels as I am so I knew I’d gain extra domestic goddess points this week!
Not many ingredients needed for this one, and the great thing is that once you’ve got them you will have enough to make lots of batches of bagels if you so desire yay! (Or you can be brave and branch out into other bread-based baking bonanzas):
According to the ‘secret recipe’, you’ll need:
2 tsp (teaspoon) dried yeast
1 1/2 tbsp (tablespoon) granulated sugar
300 ml water (100ml for yeast mixture, 200ml for dough mixture)
500 g strong white flour (plus extra for kneading)
1 1/2 tsp salt
Now looking at the recipe and reading it properly I have a sneaky suspicion that actually I only used 1 1/2 TSP of sugar, not TBSP… and I thought I’d done so well this week! Ah well, it now explains why the yeast wasn’t quite as active as it should have been…
Now the recipe this week is actually surprisingly simple, just time consuming. Which I didn’t realise through my skim of the recipe. Which is why surprise breakfast bagels became lunch time ‘are they ready yet’ bagels (but still very much appreciated by the guinea pig I’m sure)
I found this blog, Sophisticated Gourmet, which has a recipe closest to the one I followed (and has lots of other great baking treats too for those that are interested)
Here’s the close approximation to the recipe I followed:
I was going to proudly say at this point how most of this week’s challenge went without a glitch, but as the photographic evidence below shows, I definitely did only use 1 1/2 tsp not tbsp of sugar. As far as I can tell it didn’t actually have much of an effect on the end result, I think it just meant I didn’t feed my yeast enough to get it really going (sorry yeast)
So other than me completely misreading the ingredients list, the first steps to making the dough were very easy. To speed up the yeast even more some recipes recommend using 100ml of warm water, but I found leaving the yeast and sugar to sit in room temperature water for 5 minutes worked just fine. After 5 minutes just give the mixture a stir to dissolve and voilà your mix is ready to go into the well you’ve made in your dry ingredients.
Now I don’t know about you, but I am often left baffled by what recipes mean by some of their descriptions, particularly when it comes to cakes or breads. My recipe instructed me to keep adding water until I had formed a ‘firm, moist dough’. I was not convinced at the end of my allocated water allowance that I had achieved that, so added some more contraband water until I got this:
How firm, I hear you cry, how moist (well, actually looking at this is still looks a bit dry, but it did feel moist honest!)
The recipe then helpfully tells you to knead this until ‘smooth and elastic’. So here goes:
(Had to upload the video to YouTube as I can’t just embed my own video here, but it is me!)
Now of course any sane person would knead the dough with two hands, but my guinea pig was still asleep, so I had to try and film AND knead at the same time (after which I then returned to sanity and kneaded the dough for 10 minutes with BOTH hands)
After achieving a ‘smooth elastic dough’ aka looking at it and going ‘well that looks kind of smooth, and isn’t crumbly so I guess it’s ready’, it was time to let the yeast do its stuff and get to work on making my dough rise (this is where the process would be quicker if you used the right quantities of ingredients… took well over an hour to rise)
You then get to punch your dough to get your frustrations, uhhh, the air out and leave the dough for another 10 minutes to recover.
Now for the most fun and bizarre parts of making bagels…
Firstly you get your dough into 8 balls. Then you shove a floured finger through the middle of each dough ball and swirl the ball around your finger, shaping it into a bagel shape
Once you have your bagel shapes you leave them alone (AGAIN) for another 10 minutes of rest under a damp tea towel.
Then you boil, yes BOIL, them for a minute or so (I guess this helps get that wonderful bagel texture we all know and love, but it still felt weird boiling dough) Just to be straight, the bagels go in simmering water, not technically boiling water, I would imagine dough in properly boiling water would not be pretty! After which bung them in the oven for 15-20 minutes until deliciously golden brown.
I found adding a tray with some hot water in to create steam also helped to get that bagel texture, although I don’t think this is necessary if you can’t be bothered.
And then gloriously, finally, over 2 hours later (and much later than breakfast time), the bagels were complete:
All that was left to do was to fill them, watch the guinea pig’s eyes fill with gratitude that I was finally going to feed him, and sit down to enjoy my first ever home-made bagels. Definitely a hit, and definitely a new recipe for my domestic goddess arsenal!
Next week, C is for…