Not One But Two Bagel Recipes…
Who hasn’t been baking during lockdown? Seems it’s the new pastime and accounted for the shortage of flour in shops these past few months. I had a good supply of strong bread flour though so was looking for an easy baking bagel recipe and stumbled upon Rhonda Albom‘s Boiled Bagel Recipe.
Since April I’ve baked bagels based on Rhonda’s recipe at least 8 times, each time with a little more flare and refinement. I can also count maybe 10 friends who have also tried the recipe and loved it. The recipe is simple using yeast, salt, sugar, white bread flour and some olive oil. The bagels are always nice and taste even better covered in sesame seeds.
But maybe there was a problem. These bagels tasted OK when covered in seeds or smothered in peanut butter. But I wanted a bagel that tasted nice gently toasted with a little butter (slash buttery flavoured low cholesterol spread)
Have Your Tried Malt Syrup For Bagels?
I kept reading and found that for the “authentic” tasting bagel I didn’t need sugar and oil, I just needed a bit more water and barley malt syrup (it might be called malt extract where you are) Two articles I read mentioned this: https://slate.com/culture/2014/04/authentic-bagel-recipe-you-need-barley-malt-syrup-and-boiling-water.html and How to make the perfect bagels by Felicity Cloake
“Malt contributes a mild sweetness as well as important ingredients such as mineral salts, soluble proteins, dough conditioning enzymes, flavor, color, and nutritive materials. These give us the incredible rich brown crust of the typical New York bagel, while adding flavor and aroma to the finished bagels.”Why Malt Syrup in Bagels?
Two important details, you make rings, don’t punch a hole in the dough, it’s not cheating but it does something to the shape and consistency of the bagel when you roll it out between your hands. The second thing is boil your bagels before baking.
Boiling Bagels, Really?
Yes, you read it right, the secret to making good bagels is boiling them before they go in the oven. This is what gives them the dense, chewy texture. “Boiling sets the crust, so it will remain hard and chewy…” says Felicity Cloake in her article. Doing so for 1 minute either side with give the bagel a firmer exterior. Adding baking soda to the water will give them a shine as well.
Boiled Bagel Recipe #1
I said I’d refined the boiled bagel recipe that I got from Rhonda’s web page. There’s a couple of reasons. One is I found there was a slightly yeasty flavour to my finished bagels. Another thing is the overall finish. When I buy bagels from the shop (and I mean proper Brick Lane Beigels) they have a slightly shiny appearance, so I found a little trick on Serious Eats for making that happen too!
1 tbsp yeast
.75 tbsp sugar
1.25 tsp salt
1.25 cups Luke warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups white bread flour
1 cup brown bread flour
0.5 tsp baking soda
Large bowl of iced water
Kitchen Aid / food mixer with dough hook
Baking sheet, lightly floured
Oven set to 180c (fan)
Bagel Baking Method #1
- Add lukewarm water to yeast, sugar and salt, stir then stand for 10 minutes
- Add the olive oil and stir
- Add bit by bit the flour stirring all the while
- Mix with a fork then roughly knead into a ball
- Put in Kitchen Aid with dough hook on number 2 setting for 10 minutes
- Weigh 100 gram portions, these may be under or over slightly depending on total weight of the dough
- Make 8 inch sausages shaped into rings by rolling portions between your hands
- Seal ends by wetting with a drop of luke-warm water and twisting slightly
- Leave to “prove” for around 45 minutes – you’ll see your bagels start to puff up
- Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the baking soda
- Boil bagels for 1 minute each side, then immerse in iced water (to stop them from cooking) and leave to stand on a wire rack stood on a tea towel to catch drips (you may want to use some kitchen roll to dry the bottom of each bagel)
- Place on a baking sheet on a baking tray and cook for approx 19 minutes, till a nice golden brown colour
- Remove from the oven and stand on a wire rack to cool, or eat hot, straight from the oven!
Bagel Recipe #2 – takes a bit longer, tastes even nicer
Sorry friends, if you’re happy with recipe #1 that’s great but I wanted something tastier and even easier to make. This time round we do all the dough rising first, then make the rings, then… let them rise some more before boiling. That’s the first 2 hours and 15 minutes taken up. Then boil and bake, (that takes another 30 minutes).
The great thing about letting the dough rise first before making the rings is how much easier it is to make the rings. And get this, the joining of the rings is so much easier too. And they taste better. What’s not to like?
For the dough
4 cups of strong bread flour
1 tablespoon of “easy bake” yeast (this is more than one 7g sachet)
2 teaspoons of salt
3 tablespoons of barley malt extract
375 ml of lukewarm water
Bagel Baking Method #2
- Add 1 x tablespoon of barley malt extract to the lukewarm water and mix in
- Put the yeast in a bowl, pour in the water mixture, stir, cover with a tea towel and leave to stand for 10 minutes – you should get an even froth across the top of the water.
- Add the remaining barley malt extract and stir.
- Add the flour and salt to the mixing bowl then add the water mixture. Using a stand mixer / Kitchen Aid with a dough hook, combine the flour and water, kneading for 10 minutes on the lowest setting.
- Place the dough in a slightly oiled bowl (to stop it sticking), covered with a clean tea towel, for at least one hour, till the dough has doubled in size
- You should have approx 1200g of dough
- Divide the dough into 100g portions, using a knife. I chop bits off or add a little bit to make them the same weight
- Make the rings by rolling the dough portions between your hands to make an 8 to 10 cm sausage shape. Wrap around your knuckles with the loose ends in the palm of your hand and roll on a surface to join them together.
- Leave the bagel rings to rise in a warm space, covered with a tea towel for another 1 hour
- Boil a pan of water and add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (it will turn the water a slight blue colour)
- Boil bagels for 1 minute either side, take out and drain on a wire rack for 5 minutes
- Place on a baking tray in the oven at 180c for 18-20 minutes till golden brown
- Remove from the oven and place bagels on a wire rack to cool, or eat bagels hot from the oven covered in butter or peanut butter or something else that’s really tasty on hot bread!
Bagels with Sesame Seeds
As a variation on the method, before baking, make an egg wash (one egg beaten with a teaspoon of water), brush the bagels and liberally coat in sesame seeds. You might find baking seed-side down for 10 minutes then turning improves the finish.
Popular Bagel Fillings
Most times I eat a bagel it’s for breakfast so I often just spread some butter on toasted halves of bagel, then top it off with a poached egg and spinach. But other times I like to have my bagel with peanut butter.
Popular bagel fillings include salt beef, smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise… the list goes on.
2021 Update – Overnight bagels
Did my bagel obsession get the better of me? I’m now making bagels that prove overnight in the refrigerator and taste *even better*! Check out our new post with the overnight bagels recipe.
Other Articles About Baking Bagels
How to make the perfect bagels – The Guardian, 7th August 2014 https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/aug/07/how-to-make-perfect-bagels
You’re Doing It Wrong: Bagels – L.V Anderson on Slate, 24th April 2014
How to Make Bagels at Home by Adam Kuban – Serious Eats, March 24, 2011
“Rope-and-loop: You form a snake shape, loop it around your hand, and roll it on the counter to seal it together”
6 Common Bagel-Making Problems and How to Fix Them – Serious Eats, October 30, 2019
- Mix dough for up to 45 minutes to get air in and blisters on surface
- Prove for up to 20 hours in fridge
10 Tips for Making Schmear-Worthy Homemade Bagels – October 5, 2016 by Caitlin Raux
- Use cold water
- Chilled dry active yeast
- Don’t whisk yeast, let it sit on surface of water
Why Malt Syrup in Bagels? New Yorker Bagels, 8th November 2013
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