Ruby runs rings around bagels
Bagel dough is surprisingly forgiving and makes a steadfast vehicle for any number of flavour combinations such as malt, cinnamon and orange, or deeply savoury onion
Unlike a rustic bloomer, slumped languorously across its baking tray, or a batch of misshapen floury baps, or even a proud sandwich loaf in its tin, bagels don’t seem like the kind of bread that could be made at home. Perhaps it’s the fact that they’re twice-cooked, or the careful shaping of the buns, that makes us inclined to head for the supermarket or the deli instead of trying to make them by our own hand. But if you can find a few hours in your weekend to give them a go, you’ll find bagels perfectly straightforward. In fact, because they use a particularly dry, stiff dough, they’re arguably easier to mix, knead and shape than other breads – a perfect introduction to the techniques, even for a breadmaking novice.
MALT, CINNAMON AND ORANGE BAGEL TWISTS
You can buy malt extract in nearly all health food stores and some larger supermarkets, but if it eludes you, use 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar and a splash more water instead.
450g strong white flour 10g instant dried yeast (roughly 3 tsp) 1½ tsp salt ½ tsp cinnamon Zest of 2 oranges 200ml lukewarm water 4 tbsp malt extract 125g sultanas Fine polenta or semolina, for dusting 2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 Mix the flour, yeast, salt, cinnamon and zest in a bowl. Whisk the water and malt extract together, add it to the dry ingredients, then mix roughly with your hands until just combined.
2 Tip the dough out on to an unfloured work surface. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until it is smoother and more elastic. Don’t worry if the dough sticks a little when you first start kneading.
3 Work in the sultanas until they’re well spread throughout the dough, then transfer to a large, clean bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until it has almost doubled in size.
4 Once risen, divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Cover loosely with clingfilm to prevent the dough drying while you shape the bagels.
5 Cut one portion in half. Using your hands, roll each piece out on an unfloured work surface to a long sausage shape around 25cm long. The dough may spring back as you stretch it thanks to the elasticity developed during kneading, but if this happens, just let it rest a moment before continuing. Lay the two dough ropes parallel to one another and pinch very firmly together at one end. Now twist the strands together until they’re intertwined along their length, leaving the loose end unsealed. Twist this coil around into a circle before pinching the loose ends together with the sealed end. You must press the ends together firmly, squeezing until the dough adheres to itself, otherwise the bagels will unravel during boiling and baking.
6 Repeat the shaping process with the remaining dough portions, then arrange the bagels on a lightly greased surface, cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm room for 45-60 minutes, until they’re visibly puffier and roughly 1 ½ times their original size. Don’t leave these too long – if they’re left until they’ve fully doubled, or more, in size they could collapse and wrinkle when boiled.
7 While the bagels rise, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, bring a large pan of water to the boil and dust a large baking tray generously with semolina or fine polenta. When the bagels are ready to cook, add the bicarbonate of soda to the boiling water and reduce to a simmer. Add the bagels to the pan in batches of no more than 3 or 4, and boil for 1 minute on each side. Put the boiled bagels on the prepared baking tray and bake for 25 minutes. Once cooked, transfer the bagels to a wire rack immediately to cool. Serve split and toasted with plenty of good salted butter.
Bagels offer a perfect introduction to the techniques of breadmaking
A mix of granules and fresh onion, fried until crisp, leaves these bagels mouth-wateringly savoury and deeply aromatic. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, dried onion or sea salt, if you fancy it.
75ml vegetable or sunflower oil 1 medium onion, finely diced 1½ tsp instant dried yeast 150ml lukewarm water 300g strong white flour 1½ tbsp onion granules 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar ¾ tsp salt 2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda Fine polenta or semolina, for dusting
1 Fry the onion in the oil over a high heat, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes, or until golden brown all over. Don’t crowd the pan, or it’ll just steam, so fry in two batches if your pan is small. Drain and leave to cool.
2 Dissolve the yeast in 2 tbsp of warm water. Mix the flour, onion granules, sugar and salt in a large bowl, then add the yeast and the remaining water. Stir, then tip the dough from its bowl on to a clean surface and knead for 5 minutes. You should notice the dough becoming smoother as you knead.
3 Work the fried onion into the dough until well dispersed. Put the dough in a bowl, cover loosely with clingfilm and leave at room temperature for 1–1 ½ hours, until almost doubled in size.
4 Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each portion into a long sausage shape, then form a circle and pinch the ends firmly together. Leave to rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.
5 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the bicarbonate of soda to the boiling water, then turn the heat down until it’s gently simmering. Add the risen bagels, in batches, and boil for 1 minute on each side. Dust a baking tray generously with fine polenta or semolina (to prevent sticking) and arrange the boiled bagels on it. Bake for 25 minutes. While they’re still hot, transfer them from the baking tray to a wire rack to cool. Serve toasted.