Not only am I a long way from a Brick Lane Beigel geographically but I am also a long way from it in terms of execution. However, my first ever batch of bagels, or should I say beigels, turned out pretty well. And I got to take some nice photo’s in the dying light of late afternoon. There is a small window of opportunity in my tiny back garden, the sun starts to get low and golden, littering the garden with perfect patches of yellow hazy light and then a moment later, it is gone behind the houses, not to be seen again until tomorrow.
And for once, everything came out of the oven at just the right moment. It was also perfect timing for Mr T, after a hard day out in the elements he always walks in the door looking a little wan and malnourished, well, at least that’s how he plays it! I challenge anyone living with me to be malnourished. So, the sight of fresh, warm bagels was a welcome one and he arrived with a bag filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and a lemon.
I’m digressing somewhat, I should probably start at the beginning. Where I used to live in London, there was a little shop opposite the pub I worked in and every Sunday they would have a small box of Brick Lane Beigels and that is where the love affair began. It was reingited recently after I saw Poh make some on Poh’s kitchen. And then, as if the universe was telling me to make Bagels, I opened the second issue of the new SBS food magazine ‘Feast’ and there it was, a recipe for Bagels. I could ignore it no more. So, off I went to the shops. Five shops later, I still had not found Barley Malt syrup, lots of other syrups but not this particular one. After many days of trying, I gave up and settled for Rice Malt syrup and they seemed to turn out fine.
As I read over the recipe, it called for a mixer with a dough hook, being a poor little apprentice and not being able to afford a much desired Kitchen Aid, I have to settle for good old fashioned grunt work. And so, I kneaded and kneaded and kneaded and thought about the time my friend asked me how I got my arms toned, my response, I’m a chef. All that kneading and whisking and chopping is a work out in itself. The dough looked lovely, pale and smooth and delicate. I put it out in the garden to prove in the sunshine, it was a little chilly in the house. A couple of hours of shopping later, I came home to find it perfectly proved. Now for the part I was nervous about, the boiling. It seems strange to drop a piece of dough into boiling water, I imagined limp, sticky dough attaching itself to every conceivable surface. I was wrong. The dough is relatively hardy and didn’t mind being picked up and dropped into a vat of boiling water. As I scooped them out, I again was filled with fear but they had formed a nice little crust. You have to drain them before you put them back on the baking tray, I drained mine on a clean tea towel which worked fine but don’t leave them to hang around, as they will stick to the cloth. Get them out, get them dry and get them in the oven. Then, get them in your belly!
The adapted recipe from ‘Feast’ magazine is below.
7g Sachet Dried yeast
1 tbs Caster Sugar
1 tbs Barley Malt Syrup (I used rice malt syrup)
635g ’00’ Pasta Flour
Oil, to grease
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbs Caraway, poppy or sesame seeds
Place yeast and 375ml warm water in bowl, set aside until yeast is bubbly and activated.
Add sugar, 2 tsp salt, syrup and flour, mixing as you go. If you do it by hand, I got my hands in at this stage. If you’re doing it in a mixer, just let the dough hook do the work. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, I probably kneaded for 1o mins.
Place in a greased bowl, cover and rest for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
Divide dough into ten, I weighed my dough, it was just over a kilo so I weighed my little nuggets to roughly 100g, this just helps them stay a uniform size. Roll into balls, flatten slightly and make a hole in the centre. Put on a lined baking tray and allow to prove for another 25 mins.
Get a large pot of water to a rapid boil and boil the bagels in small batches, they like lots of space. Boil for 2 mins, turning after 1 min. Remove with a lotted spoon, drain and place on baking tray.
Paint them with egg wash and bake at 200c for 10 mins, reduce heat to 180 and bake for another 10 mins or until golden brown.
Serve with smoked salmon, capers and cream cheese or whatever takes your fancy. I like them fresh from the oven! Recipe makes 10 so I froze 6 to save for fancy breakfasts when I’ll top them with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Delicious.