"The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable…
It is crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. What is it?
Bagel! The bagel is originating in the Jewish communities of Poland, traditionally shaped into the form of a ring from yeasted wheat dough, roughly hand-sized. Bagels are often topped with seeds with the traditional ones being poppy or sesame seeds.
When I was searching for a bagel recipe I learnt that bagels before baking they are poached in boiling water. I have no idea about this procedure and what is the benefit of this. But after searching I have learnt that bagels develop their distinctive shine because of their brief dip in boiling water. Following resting, they are poached in a mixture of water and baking soda. The poaching activates the yeast, and the water that remains on the bagels results in their distinctive shine. Moreover, since the starches are gelatinized before going into the oven, they seal in moisture, creating a chewy bagel. How fascinating baking is!
The truth is that I was a little bit reluctant after reading for the procedure of poaching, since it would my first time poaching a dough. But, nothing wrong happened, it was very easy and my bagels were perfect! Crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
The recipe followed for my bagels was written by Akis Petretzikis, if you are a reader of my blog you already know that he is my favourite Greek chef. Most of the times I add or remove ingredients but when it comes to baking there is no reason for experiments.
If you decide to bake some bagels have in mind two things. Firstly, before putting bagels on the oven you have to dry them slightly with paper towel or else they will stick. And secondly, have in mind to use high-gluten flour since this helps to develop the characteristic chewiness of a bagel.
Ingredients for 10 bagels
- 300 g water, lukewarm
- 7 g active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 500 g high-gluten flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- olive oil
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 egg yolk, for brushing
- various seeds for sprinkling (white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, poppy seeds)
Method for making the bagels
First you have to activate the yeast. Thus, in a bowl, add the lukewarm water along with the yeast and sugar and let the mixture rest for 5 minutes, until bubbles start to rise.
After 45 minutes transfer the mixture to a mixer’s bowl, add the flour and salt and beat for 5-6 minutes with the hook attachment, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour.
When ready, dust a working surface with some flour, place the dough over it and divide it into 10 equal sized balls (85 g each). Make sure that they are all the same size. Then, line two baking pans with parchment paper, dust with some flour and place the balls of dough on it. Cover the baking pans with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 30 minutes, so they can rise again.
Dip your finger in some flour and start to twist it in to the center of each ball of dough to create a hole. Do this gently, so that the dough doesn’t lose its puffiness.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180* C fan and fill a pot with plenty of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the baking soda so that the water can become more alkaline. Add 1-2 bagels at a time and boil for 1 minute, turning them over halfway so they can boil on both sides. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bagels from the pot.
Place them on some paper towels to drain excess water and transfer back to lined baking pans. Brush the bagels with some egg yolk and sprinkle with your choice of seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
When ready, remove from oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack before biting into one. Serve bagels halved and topped simply with cream cheese, a curl of smoked salmon, lemon juice, dill and a sprinkling of cracked black pepper.
I hope to like my bagels and to share your favourite topping and serving!