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Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Note: This is a scheduled post - Alastair and I are currently in Hong Kong and will be back home soon. Normal programming will resume shortly!

At my old job, I had a terrible habit of not taking breakfast to work, and buying breakfast at the cafe in our building. I also had a bad habit of taking breakfast into work, not eating it, and buying something instead. Gaaah.

Finally, something clicked, and I realised I was doing this because I didn’t like what I had planned for breakfast! I kept buying bagels for breakfast, and "ding ding" I realised that I could just make my own.


So I did! And they were awesome. They were very chewy, which I do like, but due to the chewiness I preferred them toasted rather than fresh. I stashed several in the freezer for future breakfasts.

The recipe says that when the bagels are put into the water for boiling, they should sink first and then rise back to the surface. Mine all floated – and rather annoying, there was nothing to indicate how to make them more “bagely” so they would sink. And for some reason, when they came out of the water, they were all lumpy! So not very attractive, but I managed to hide the lumpiness with sesame seeds and poppy seeds.



The recipe is from here. I have rewritten it to make it easier to follow, but I recommend you read it through because it has some useful tips.

6-8 cups bread flour
4 tablespoons instant yeast
6 tablespoons sugar or light honey
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups hot water
Vegetable oil
Water for boiling
3-5 tablespoons malt syrup or sugar
A few handfuls of cornmeal (I used fine polenta)

Pour 3 cups of warm water in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar or honey. Sprinkle the yeast over and stir to dissolve. Set it aside for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, the yeast should be nice and foamy (if this doesn’t happen, start again with new yeast!). Add 3 cups of flour as well as the salt to the yeast mixture and start mixing it in. Add more flour, half a cup at a time, mixing each addition thoroughly before adding more. Eventually, it will become a stiff dough (you may not need all the flour).

Turn out on to a clean, dry countertop and knead until it is smooth and elastic. It should be heavy and stiffer than a normal bread dough.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a damp kitchen towel. Leave the bowl in a dry, warm place and leave it to rise until it is doubled in volume (I left mine for a couple of hours).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. When the dough has risen, get the boiling water ready. Get a large pot and fill it with a generous amount of water. Put it on high heat and let the water come to the boil. When it reaches a boil, add the syrup or sugar and turn down the heat so the water barely simmers.

Turn out your dough on to a clean work surface, punch it down, and divide into about 16 even-sized pieces. To form the bagels, shape the dough into a long cylindrical snake shape. Wrap it around a rolling pin, push the two ends together to join, and then roll the bagel up and down the rolling pin to smooth out the sides.

When all the bagels are formed, let them rest for 10 minutes. They will rise slightly, ideally by about 1/4th volume.

One by one, drop the bagels into the pot of simmering water. Only have two or three bagels in the water at a time – and they will puff up so watch out for it. The bagels should sink first and then flat to the top. Let the bagel simmer for three minutes then turn it over and simmer for another three minutes.

Lift the bagel out of the water and set on to a clean kitchen towel. The bagels should be shiny, due to the malt syrup/sugar in the boiling water.

When all the bagels have been boiled, sprinkle baking trays with cornmeal. Arrange the bagels on top, put them in the oven, and bake for about 25 minutes. Turn them over and bake for another 10 minutes. This helps to prevent flat bottomed bagels.

Remove from the oven and let them cool completely on wire racks before slicing.

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