Bagel Escapade!

12 November 2008 at 11:19 am Leave a comment

My first bagel attempt, although successful, was not impressive at all. The bagel was hard, and although bagels are dry by nature, mine was the drier kind. The ricotta and blueberry jam masked the flaws and imperfections of my baby (bagel) and made it incredibly tasty, but deep down the cook knows that the creation wasn’t the best in the book.

I should mention too that the only part of the whole bagel-making process is the kneading. Yes, I don’t have a mixer, so yes, everything is made by hand, and yes, I don’t like the constant kneading of a very hard-headed dough for 10 minutes. I don’t know why I don’t enjoy it.

So I refrained from baking bagels until the urge again last Saturday. Saturdays are generally for sleeping in, however my definition of “sleeping in” is waking up at 8.30am. I can never sleep past 9am, 10am if I had a really late night (which is becoming rarer these days). Maybe it’s the old age, maybe it’s the perpetually tired muscles, or maybe it’s just really my body’s way of slowly recovering from all those sleepless, tiresome nights working in the hospital some million eons ago (more like 2 years ago hehehe). But I digress…

So, back to bagels. Saturday morning, woke up at 8.30am, had my usual morning coffee and oatmeal, read my emails, the news, and before long it was 9am. My Saturday Body Attack class doesn’t start until 10.30am, so what to do for the next hour? I didn’t feel like baking anything sweet and buttery, because the previous week saw me with my (almost) disastrous gateau. But that’s another story for another day…

A quick rummage around the cupboard produced the following baker’s essentials: flour, sugar, butter, and eggs (oh, and chocolate, and cream, and vanilla… the list goes on hehe). So I decided to bravely journey into bagel-land once again, this time putting my hopes on good old Nigella’s hands. And can I just say, Nigella’s recipe was by far much easier to follow, made the dough rise as promised, yielded twice as many bagels, and much more delicious!

Nigella’s bagels (recipe from Not Quite Nigella)
1 kg all purpose flour
7g instant yeast
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp caster sugar – 2 tbsp for the flour mix, 2 tbsp for the water when poaching
500ml warm water

Toppings
Poppy seeds
Cinnamon & brown sugar
Tasty cheese
Sesame seeds (I ran out of them so no sesame for me)

1.    Mix together flour, yeast, salt.
2.    Add in vegetable oil and sugar. Mix with wooden spoon.
3.    Make a well in the centre of the mix, and pour in water. Mix with wooden spoon or by hand until form a springy dough.
4.    Transfer on a floured surface, and knead dough for about 10 minutes. The dough becomes very hard and stubborn so you’ll need to take those lovely arm muscles out! 🙂
5.    Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with cling, and let stand for about an hour to rise.

Timecheck: 10am. Must get ready for gym! So off I went, and did a really gruelling Body Attack class because I knew that when I get home, a lovely snack for tea that afternoon was waiting for me. Ahh yes… it’s called reverse compensation: what goes out (exercise), must come back in (bagels!).

6.    After an hour, the dough should be well-risen. With the precision of a Body Combater (another Les Mills class that has karate, muay thai, capoeira, and pilates incorporated into the routine), give the dough a punch to “deflate” it.

Dough!

Urge… to… punch… it…

WOOSH!!

Wow, that’s some stress reliever right there!

7.    A few more minutes of kneading is all that is required (thank goodness!). By this time I was sore from gym, but I wanted to finish off these babies before I head off to do my other Saturday chores.
8.    Roll the dough into an almost even ball (which, I must admit, could be hard!), enough to divide it into 3. Roll each of these 3 balls into thinner ropes, and cut each rope into 5. After all these balls and ropes business, you should end up with about 15 “ropes”, all ready to become bagels! Shaping the dough into bagels can be done in two ways: one is to make a ball of dough, poke your finger through the middle until you’ve made a hole, and then gently swirl the dough around the finger until you’ve created a pretty decent sized hole. Another way is to roll the dough into a slim “rope”, make a circle, and tuck in both ends, making sure you softly press the “junction” together (it might get undone when poached).
9.     Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
10.   On a pan, simmer water with sugar. Do not boil the water, but rather just let it simmer down. Poach the bagels 2-3 at a time, 15 seconds on each side, and then carefully lay them out into a baking tray lined with tea towels. Repeat for all 15 bagels.
11.   Choose your own topping: I had some poppy seeds so off they went, along with the tasty cheese and the cinnamon/brown sugar ensemble. You could also put in sesame seeds (I just ran out of them hehe!). You can even brush the plain ones with egg wash if desired.

Pre-baking

Look, a cinnamon pretzel!

12.    Line an oiled baking tray with baking sheets, and place the bagels with a bit of space in between each one. Bake for about 20 minutes or so until the bagels have a brownish tinge to it.
13.    Remove from oven, and let stand for about 10 minutes before transferring to another container to cool.
14.    Serve with ricotta or cream cheese and jam if desired.

Mmm… bagels…

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Entry filed under: chocolate cupcake, Uncategorized. Tags: , .

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