For our final class we made an incredibly large batch of bagels - I have had a bagel for breakfast every day for over a fortnight. Bagels have an interesting history - the first printed mention of bagels is most likely from 1610 in Krakow, Poland, where the community regulations stipulated that 'bagels would be given as a gift to any woman in childbirth'. Bagels were said to have been brought to NYC in the 1880's with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants. Vendors threaded the hole shaped bread onto sticks and sold them on the street. Bagels were evidently still quite rare in parts of the USA without large Eastern European Jewish communities until the last quarter of the 20th century.
Now an everyday breakfast food, or a replacement for bread as a sandwich base, there are many different flavours of bagels available to buy. This bagel recipe serves as a white flour based starting point - if you want to make different flavours this recipe is excellent to adapt. I have provided some examples of variations at the end of the recipe.
|From top to bottom: |
Well developed, under
developed and over
There are a couple of different types of quick preferments - sponge, poolish, levain, biga... all are relatively similar, and are all a simple way to improve bread quality as well as dough characteristics like strength and aroma. They are often used in the production of sweet doughs.
While they are quite easy to make, you need to keep an eye on the fermentation. An under or over-mature preferment will negatively affect the strength of the dough and the flavour of the bread. Once your sponge is very bubbly and the surface is dimpled from all the bubbles it is ready for use. It should rise to a rounded top and then drop off a little, do not let it completely collapse or else the sponge has over-matured and has too much acid.
Makes between 12-14
220 grams bakers flour
150 grams filtered water (room temperature)
1 gram instant yeast
Mix all the ingredients for the sponge together in a bowl. Leave on the bench at room temperature, or if you are in a very cold place make sure it is left in a warm room. Ideal room temperature is between 18ºC-21ºC (65ºF-70ºF). Leave to ferment for 6-8 hours, checking for development after 6 hours.
Final Dough Formula
370 grams sponge (whole of mixture made earlier)
520 grams bakers flour
225 grams filtered water
1.5 grams instant yeast
8 grams salt
12 grams malt
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add all ingredients in the order listed above. Mix for about 8 - 10 minutes on medium speed, until mixture has come together in a dough and is smooth and elastic. To test, pull a piece of dough out and stretch between fingers slowly for the 'window pane test'.
The dough should be elastic enough to create a sort of see through window without tearing apart too much - some holes will appear but the dough should be pretty strong:
Return the dough to the bowl, and, covered in glad wrap in a relatively warm room (or a proving setting on an oven) let it go through it's first fermentation. After about 30 minutes it should have doubled in size. If not, leave for a little longer and try to increase the temperature of the room - turn on a heater, move to a warmer room etc.
On a floured bench, tip out the dough and get out your kitchen scales. Cut off pieces of the dough, weighing approximately 85 grams each, and shape into a ball with your hands. Place on a well floured tray, cover with a dry tea towel (ensuring the tops of the balls are dusted with flour and not sticky so the towel does not stick), and leave to rest for another 20 - 30 minutes. After this time, take each ball and roll into a thick log. Join both ends together and push together, creating a bagel shape. Note that these will rise a lot more, so make sure the hole is pretty big.
Place back on the tray, this time the tray should be oiled. Cover with a dry tea towel and leave in a very warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 240ºC (460ºF).
Place the tray in the oven, and with a spray bottle spray the walls of the oven to create steam and quickly shut the oven door. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.
These make delicious light bagels - still quite dense but not so dense that it is like eating stale bread - I am not a fan of those sorts of bagels.
You can vary the recipe by adding in one of the below:
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries
1/2 cup cooled caramelized onions
1/2 cup drained and finely chopped sundried tomatoes (pat down to remove oil)
Add any of these in in the last few minutes of mixing the ingredients. For berries, make sure they are frozen or they will just turn into mush when mixed into the dough.
You could also sprinkle poppy seeds, sunflower seeds or herbs and rock salt over the top just before baking.
Enjoy with cream cheese, butter, as a sandwich base or mix some cream cheese with a few mashed blueberries and a teaspoon agave nectar for a sweet treat!