There are times when shop bought bagels are ok and there are times when they just don't cut the mustard. My sister sent me a picture of her homemade bagels early in the week and the craving for fresh bagels started getting out of hand by the weekend so today's the day to make my own!
As I spent 10 years in the States I've had some pretty good bagels - shiny and chewy on the outside, soft on the inside. You can toast them, make sandwiches with them, have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner...the possibilities are endless! The flavours are pretty endless too although I am an "everything" bagel girl all the way. Unfortunately my local supermarkets seemed to be working against me and didn't have the onion, garlic or poppy seeds that I needed so have settled for plain.
The dough and method of making bagels is really similar to how I made soft pretzels a little while ago.
Mix the yeast, sugar and half of the warm water gently in a bowl and let sit for about 5 minutes.
Add the salt to the flour in a large bowl (I used an electric mixer so used the bowl on that) and add the yeast mixture. Mix slowly until the dough comes together then increase the speed (or elbow grease!) to medium for about 5 minute, 10 by hand, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the ball of dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel or cling film and let rise in a warm place for about an hour.
Preheat your oven to 210C and bring a large pan of water to the boil.
Once the dough has risen, knock it back and divide into 8 equal lumps. Gently roll each portion into a ball, flatten slightly and poke a finger through the middle. Work your way around the dough to stretch it out from the hole to make a bagel-y shape. Place bagels on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.
Some of the other recipes I've seen for bagels suggest leaving your shaped bagel to rest for about half an hour but I didn't see a lot of difference with the final product.
Once your pan of water has boiled, drop the bagels in one at a time allowing each side to boil for around 30 seconds and return to your baking tray.
There seem to be 3 camps of people when it comes to the water...some add baking soda, some add sugar and some leave it plain. I tried half of my bagels with plain water and half with baking soda and saw no difference in the texture, taste or colour whatsoever...
If you wanted to add a topping, you would want to dip the top in your topping right after it's been boiled and drip-dried.
Bake the bagels for around 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Leave to cool on a wire rack (or just get stuck in like I did!)
480g plain flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
300ml warm water
1 teaspoon salt
Optional toppings - "everything" (dried onion flakes, dried garlic flakes, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salt), poppy seeds, sesame seeds, kosher salt, jalapeno flakes, caraway seeds