Until recently, most of the bagels I had eaten seemed bland, somewhat dry and rather boring. That was until I came across a bagel recipe in an old Jewish cookbook and was enlightened. Good bagels, like the ones you are about to make, are slightly sweet and curiously chewy, with a soft, shiny, tasty crust. You poach them for a couple of minutes in water before you bake them the oddest thing you are ever likely to do to a piece of dough.
- Yield: 12
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 5 g powdered dried yeastc
- 10 g fine salt
- 250 ml warm water
- 20 g caster sugar
- 50 ml vegetable oil, plus extra for coating
- 1 medium free-range egg, beaten
- Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)
- In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients to make a dough. Knead on a clean surface until smooth and elastic. Shape into a round, coat with a little extra oil and place in a clean bowl. Leave to rise, covered with a plastic bag.
- When the dough has doubled in size, deflate it and divide into 12 pieces. One at a time, roll into a sausage shape, about 15 cm long. Wet the ends and press them together to make a ring. Leave to prove, covered, on a lightly oiled plastic board or metal baking sheet (not floured cloths or boards).
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Lightly oil a couple of baking sheets and in a wide pan bring around a 10 cm depth of water to the boil.
- When the bagels have roughly doubled in size, they are ready for poaching. You will need to do this in batches. Turn the pan of water down to a simmer, then slip as many bagels as will fit comfortably into the water (allow room for them to puff up). Cook for a minute on each side, then remove and drain on a clean tea towel (not kitchen paper as it will stick).
- When they are all poached, lay the bagels on the baking sheets, gently sticking any that uncurled in the water back together again. Brush all over with beaten egg, then sprinkle with seeds if you like. Bake for 15 minutes, until the bagels are a uniform, glossy golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.