Cakes & Bakes

Rachel Doherty

The beautiful bagel…

Bagels

I always thought a bagel was a fancy sort of a food, and something I most likely was not going to enjoy because it wasn’t a slice of normal white bread (which I still love, but try not to eat quite as much of it as I used to).

So it wasn’t until I half moved in with my sister and brother-in-law eight summers ago, when the wee niece was born that I discovered the pure joy of a hot toasted bagel!

I stayed with Jayne for a week when Katie first arrived, under the pretence that I was helping my sister out…in reality I think I was there for the cuddles and the newborn baby smell! Anyway, to the bagels…one morning Jayne asked me to toast her one for breakfast with real butter and marmalade (see, I did help!) so I decided to try one myself. From there an addiction was born! I think I had a bagel nearly everyday for the rest of the summer after that!

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Then bagels seemed to take off in a big way…or at least I only noticed it then anyway, with cafe’s and restaurants offering them filled as a lunch choice, and even some bagel only food outlets popping up here and there! One of the ladies in the staff room has a likening for bagels too, but the cinnamon ones – you walk in and you know what Miss H is having for her lunch! I have never experimented that far as I don’t think I could cope with cinnamon in my bagel…maybe one day!

For me the ultimate is a toasted plain bagel, with cream cheese and hot fried bacon. Yum…I feel like having that now! To the recipe- they are really simple to make, and actually quite fun! And they don’t take as long as regular bread, so happy days! Give them a go – this recipe will give you 8 decent sized bagels, put them in a food bag, closed up, or an airtight container for a few days max. Enjoy…happy baking!

Ingredients:

• 450g strong white bread flour, and a little extra for dusting

• 4 tablespoons sugar

• 2 teaspoons salt

• 1 sachet fast action dried yeast

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• 300ml warm water

Method:

1. Put the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar into a large bowl, along with 100ml of the warm water. Leave for 10 minutes and it will become frothy.

2. Add the other 200ml of warm water to the bowl, add the salt and half the flour. Mix until it comes together and gradually add the remaining flour, mixing all the time with your hand.

3. Knead on a lightly oiled surface for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic…or cheat and use the free standing mixer with the dough hook attachment for about 5 minutes.

4. Put dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to double in size for around an hour.

5. Once the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 220C (fan). Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and make 8 shapes, roughly the same size. Turn each shape into a ball and flatten SLIGHTLY.

6. Use a wooden spoon to make a hole in the centre, and twirl the dough until you have a decent sized hole- about 3cm. (I just use my finger! Much more fun, just watch it doesn’t go flying off!)

7. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add rest of sugar. Put four bagels in at a time, boil for 2 minutes, flipping them half way through. Drain and place onto a lined baking tray. Bake for 25 minutes (the base will sound hollow) and cool on a wire rack.