I have conquered The Bagel! Ok, they look slightly gnarly but not bad for a first attempt!
Bagels are something that I have been wanting to make for a long time but I never had the time, and the processes involved (such as dipping them in simmering water for a few minutes), had always daunted me. Recently, I have had some time on my hands so, at long last, I set about the bagel challenge and it was not as intimidating as it had previously appeared. If you have made bread before then you are well able to make bagels. If you live in New York, in the vicinity of an abundance of delis then, really, I wouldn’t bother! But if, as I do, you live in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Ireland (or any other country), it really is worth doing. They taste so much better than shop bought with a lovely, chewy texture that all good bagels should have.
A Little Bit of History
Bagels originated in Eastern Europe, specifically, Poland, in the 17th century and they became very popular at this time because their chewy texture meant that they lasted longer than other breads. They were also much more easily transported than other breads due to their design. Bagels reached the height of their popularity when Polish-Jews brought them to the U.S. in the late 19th century/early 20th century and bakeries sprung up all over the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
500g strong white flour/plain flour (I used plain but I think strong white flour gives them more of a stretch when rising which equals better texture)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet of instant yeast
75g dried figs, chopped
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp olive oil
240ml tepid water
1 egg, beaten
oats, for sprinkling on top
1. Mix together the flour, salt, figs and yeast into a large bowl. In a separate jug, mix together the tepid water, honey and olive oil together and then add to the flour mixture and combine thoroughly to make a dough.
2. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for ten minutes until firm and elastic.
3. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion into a ball shape and place on a floured chopping board. Cover with a sheet of oiled cling film and set aside to rise in a warm place for 25 minutes until doubled in size.
4. When the dough has risen, make a hole in the centre of each portion using a wooden spoon. On a solid surface, swirl the bagel around the wooden spoon to stretch the hole. Set aside under the cling film for another 35 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7 and bring a large pot of water up to the boil.
6. Add the bagels in batches (2 or 3 at a time so as not to crowd the pot) and poach for around 1 minute a side. Take the bagels out with a wooden spoon and place on a rack to dry slightly.
7. Brush the bagels with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the oats.
8. Place the bagels onto two oiled baking trays and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.