When I’m feeling disgustingly hungover, there’s only one thing that can get me back on my feet – A Brick Lane, ‘Beigal Bake’ tuna-mayo bagel with pickled onion monster munch and a carton of Ribena. I eat so many bagels, I’m surprised I haven’t turned into one and if I were to apply for the British Bake Off, I’d say that bagels were my ‘signature bake’.
My bagels aren’t perfectly round, they’re not the same shape or size as one another and sometimes they don’t even have much of a hole in the middle but, they are very, very tasty with a delectable chewy outside and a light but deliciously dense middle. My very own East End bagels.
To make 10 bagels, you will need –
1 sachet of dried yeast
450g strong white flour
300ml of warm water, warm enough to activate the yeast without being too hot and killing it
4 tablespoons of sugar
2 generous pinches of salt
My kitchen is pretty chilly (probably haunted) so whenever I need to prove dough, the first thing I do is pop the oven on high at 220c to warm the room and create the perfect place for proving and of course have an oven ready for baking.
Into a big bowl, empty the yeast sachet and activate with 100ml of warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar. This will need to sit and do its thing for about 8 to 10 minutes. When it’s smelling doughy and looking bubbly on top, it’s ready to be combined with the flour and salt. Stir the salt into the flour before you empty it into the yeast bowl and use your hands to combine with the remaining 200ml of warm water.
Add the flour in two of three parts to make sure the dough isn’t too dry. You can always add more flour if it’s too wet but you can’t take it away.
This should come together as a soft ball of dough ready for 5 minutes of kneading on a lightly floured surface.
Pop the dough back into a nice, clean and lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. I always put the bowl on a tea towel on top of the warm oven, being careful not to let the bowl get too hot.
Bring a large pan of water with 3 tablespoons of sugar mixed in, to the boil. Whilst this is beginning to bubble take the dough and divide as best you can into 10 equal pieces. Shape into round balls and lightly flatten. Use a kitchen utensil with a round handle to push through the centre of the dough ball to make a hole and then use your finger to make the hole about 3 or 4cm wide and shape into something that resembles a bagel. It can take a bit of practice but you’ll soon get the hang of it.
Using a slotted spoon or fish slice, gently place the bagel dough into the boiling water and boil for about forty seconds before flipping over and cooking for another thirty to forty seconds. Don’t put them all in the water at once as they need room to expand in the water. After a minute or so of boiling, a light skin should have formed, scoop them out put them onto a parchment lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown with a glorious shine.
I like to add different toppings to mine, such as sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and poppy seeds. Add these to the bagels just before they go into the oven for baking.
Leave to cool a little and then pack with delicious fillings like, cream cheese and salmon, tuna and mayonnaise, sausage and bacon, peanut butter or just leave plain.