Through lockdown we have noticed a surge in customers creating sourdough starters. Like our old tamagotchis, these require just a little love and attention through weekly feedings, in order to give you endless joy. Alongside making sourdough bread, we have found a new use for our starter, and this is in the form of New York bagels.
Homemade bagels are easy to make and are far superior to the store bought siblings. They also have no preservatives and easy to digest due to the slow fermentation process. Bagels are all about technique, which is a two-step process. First boil the dough to set the crust. Then bake the bagels for a nice golden crust. For timing, you can break up the process over two days. We like to make the dough on Saturday evening, allow it to rise overnight, then shape, boil and bake on Sunday. We find that perfecting the bagel is a much simpler process than the slightly temperamental sourdough.
Makes 8 bagels
A few days before baking, feed your starter until bubbly and active. Store at room temperature until ready to use.
150g (3/4 cup) bubbly active starter
250g (1 cup + 2tbsp) warm water
24g (2 tbsp) sugar
500g (4 cups + 2tbsp) bread flour
9g (1 1/2 tsp) fine sea salt
20g (1 tbsp) honey
Oil for coating
Mixed seeds e.g. poppy, sesame, fennel, linseed and sunflower seeds
Make the dough;
In a large bowl, whisk the starter, water and sugar together with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Combine to form a rough dough, then finish by mixing by hand to fully incorporate the flour. The dough is quite stiff, so you can use a stand mixer on a low speed for 5 - 6 minutes to give yourself a break. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and let it rest for 45mins - 1 hour. Meanwhile, replenish your starter with fresh flour and water.
After the dough has rested, work the dough into a semi smooth ball.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it rise until it has doubled in size. This will take around 8 - 10 hours at room temp.
Line a sheet pan with a nonstick silicone mat or compostable baking paper. If using parchment, lightly coat with oil to prevent sticking. Remove the dough onto a non-floured work surface. Flatten into a rectangle and divide into 8 equal pieces (approx 115g each). Roll each piece into a ball and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes to relax the gluten.
Working with one ball at a time, poke a hole stragiht through the centre. Lift the dough and insert both index fingers through the centre hold, and barrel roll to gently stretch the opening to about the size of a walnut. Place the dough back onto the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
Cover the dough with a damp towel and leave for 15 - 20 mintues. The dough will puff up only slightly at this stage. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Add the honey and whisk well to dissolve. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Add seeds of choice to a shallow bowl.
Boil the bagels;
Add 2 - 3 bagels into the pot and wait for them to float to the top (about 10 seconds). Simmer for 30 seconds on each side for a thin crust. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bagels back to the sheet pan, round side up. Once slightly cool, but still wet, dip the rounded side into the seeds to coat. Place back onto the sheet pan and repeat for the remaining bagels.
Bake the bagels for about 20-25 minutes. Flip them over to briefly cook the bottom side, about 1 - 2 minutes or less. When ready, your bagels will be puffed up and and golden. They will feel nice and light. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, but indulge yourself in eating one (or more) while warm.
The chewy texture of the bagels is best enjoyed when made fresh. Store in a bread bag or container in the pantry for a couple of days. Bagels also freeze well either whole or sliced for up to 3 months.
Cinnamon raisin bagel variation;
For cinnamon raisin bagels, add 2 tsp of cinnamon to the dry ingredients. While the dough is resting, soak 1/2 cup of raisins in warm water. Drain well before kneeding them into the dough to incorporate.