It was a fabulous evening. As well as learning how fun and satisfying it is to make bagels, Eleri showed us how to make butter (while toning our upper arms) as well as peanut butter. Happiness is eating a freshly boiled/baked bagel spread with creamy butter.
250g strong bread flour
1 tsp quick yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp sugar
150 ml warm water
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp malt extract, or 3 tbsp brown sugar
Toppings (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc)
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together (if using normal dry yeast, you’ll need to start it off with the sugar and some of the water five minutes or so ahead of time).
Tip out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and springy – about 10 minutes. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into six equal pieces (or more for smaller bagels). Shape the pieces into a smooth ball, and rest for about 10 minutes under a damp tea towel on an oiled surface.
Use a floured finger to make a hole in the middle of the ball, then roll it between one or two fingers on each hand to widen it out to a decent sized hole – it will close up again as it proves. Back under the towel for another 10-15 min rest.
Preheat the oven to 250C, and sprinkle your baking trays with semolina.
Fill a large pan with water, add the bicarb, and the malt or sugar, and bring to the boil, then keep it at a strong simmer.
Lower the bagels into the water – as many as will float comfortably together – 3 or 4 probably. (Tip: if you put them in upsidedown, they’ll end up with their best foot forwards, so to speak). Boil for 1-2 minutes, flip them over, and same again on the other side (the longer boiling time is meant to result in a chewier texture – possibly, but I wouldn’t worry if you’re in a hurry). Take them out, draining any excess water, and put straight on the semolina covered baking sheet. Add any toppings whilst still damp.
Bake at 250C for 5 minutes, then rotate the trays and reduce the heat to 220C and bake for another 10 minutes or so (depending on size). They should be golden brown and firm.