The Perfect Bagel

I cannot profess to have made the perfect bagel.

Not yet, anyway.

But these were pretty damn fine if I do say so myself.

Making them from scratch was easier than I expected and the results, while imperfect, have made every store bought bagel seem a pale reflection.

Honestly. They taste like nothing else. So perfect. So savoury-sweet and delicious. I ate like 6 in one sitting.

The ins and outs of bageling are simple if you already know how to make bread.

If you’re cringing at the thought, let me assure you – making bread is easy. Really.

Sure it is time-consuming, but that’s because there is a lot of waiting for the dough to do things between steps. Other than 5-1o minutes hard kneading, honestly, there is hardly anything you have to do.

Also, it can be fickle. It’s easy to feel like you’ve failed because your crust is weird or the texture is dense. All flours, yeasts are different and even water hardness or the amount of humidity in your kitchen can effect your baking chemistry. That’s not a bad thing or a problem, just something to get used to.

Slightly imperfect bread made by trial and error is actually the best part. Think of it as rustic, cut yourself some slack and enjoy even the ugliest of loaves. They are all still delicious.

If you want a serious hand-to-hold while you learn the ropes of yeasted baking may I heartily suggest:

 and this          

If you want a quick-fix, google-style, you could do worse than Jamie Oliver.

Now, to make bagels, there is really very little variation from making bread. Except the boiling the dough thing. That’s special.

In a nutshell:

Make a yeasty bread dough, slightly augmented with sugar and oil to give it bagel-y goodness.

Knead and let it rise, like any good bread.

After the proving and shaping and such like, poach them in boiling water for a couple of minutes. This gives them that lovely outer texture.

Then wash with egg for that golden crust and bake.

Voila.  I’ll bet money it’ll be the best bagel you’ve ever had.

While mine were slightly over-proved and a bit on the flat-ish side, they were far and away my favourite bagel to  date.

I used the recipe from the River Cottage Bread Handbook pictured above, but you can also find it here.

Bagels, welcome to my stable. I love you.


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