I baked you bagels! What’s that? You live in a different country to me? Oh. Well. In that case, I’m eating bagels for you too :).You might think that bagels would just be a version of pretzels. I know I did. We were both wrong. Pretzels were easy. Bagels were…not.


Just like a bought one...assuming the bought one was made by a first time baker, of course


Recipe adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

These are made in stages: first is a sponge (or pre-ferment), then the dough, then boiling, then baking. All up, it takes a couple of days!

510g bread flour (bread flour has higher gluten content than plain flour)
1 tsp instant yeast
2.5 cups lukewarm water

Stir the yeast into the flour, then add the water. Stir until it forms a sticky batter. Cover with Gladwrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until it doubles in size and becomes foamy and bubbly. My apartment is apparently too cold, so it took 2.5 hours, and I eventually sat it right under the rangehood light to get it warm enough.


Rise, damn you, rise!


480g bread flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp golden syrup (this is supposed to be malt powder, but try as I might I couldn’t find any. Honey or brown sugar are also acceptable alternatives, apparently)

Add the yeast to the sponge mixture and stir. Then add 3 cups of flour, all of the salt and the syrup. Stir until it forms a ball, then start working in the remaining flour with your hands.

Turn out on to the bench and knead for at least 10 minutes.

Do you know how long 10 mins is when you’re kneading? It’s a rather long time.


A beautiful, bouncing, ball of dough


I think my dough was a little too sticky still, and next time I’ll add more flour while I’m kneading – it’s supposed to be “satiny and pliable” whereas mine kept sticking to the bench a little.

Divide the dough into around 15 pieces. You should really weigh them to make sure they’re evenly sized – mine were 100-110g each.

Roll the pieces into perfectly round balls by cupping a chunk in your palm and rolling on the bench using pressure from the outside of your hand.


Well, roundish balls...


Cover with a damp teatowel and rest for around 20 mins, or one quarter of footy (it’s actually the dough that needs to rest, but hey, all that kneading and rolling is hard work!).

Shape your balls in to bagels. There are a couple of different ways to do this, and I used the (soon to be patented) chopstick method: shove a chopstick through the middle of the dough, then swing it around a few times to stretch the hole. The stick your fingers through and stretch it a bit more, swinging around as necessary. Then place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper sprayed with oil.


Deceptively plump bagels


To be honest, this is probably not the best method of shaping – my bagels turned out flat rather than round and plump. I’ll try something else next time. It was fun though.

One little lesson I learned: when the instructions say place them 2 inches apart, you should do that. Because mine all stuck together when I tried to squish too many on the tray. See the resulting oddly shaped bagels for proof.

Spray the tops of the bagels with oil, then loosely cover with Gladwrap and rest for another 20 mins.

After 20 mins, drop one bagel into a bowl of room-temperature water – if it floats, pull it out, dry it off, and put all of the bagels in the fridge. If it doesn’t float, pull it out, dry it off, and try again in 10 mins.

Refrigerating the bagels overnight is known as retarding, as it retards the fermenting of the yeast, and gives a better flavour to the resultant bagels apparently. You can leave them in the fridge for up to two days (I did).


Fresh from the fridge - squishy, squishy, stuck together


Because they were stuck together, I had to pull them apart, which stretched the dough and added to the flatness of the finished product. Live and learn.

Pre-heat the oven to 250°C (or as hot as it will go). Put the rack in the middle of the oven. Fill a wide brim pan with water and bring to the boil. Add 1 Tbsp baking soda.

Drop as many bagels as will comfortably fit into the pan, and boil for 1 min.

Turn over and boil for another minute. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon. You could put them straight onto baking paper, but I put them on a cooling rack first. Top as soon as they come out of the water with whatever you like – I used poppy seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.


Boiled but not yet baked


Continue until you’ve boiled all of the dough.

You can use the same baking paper that you retarded the bagels on, just sprinkle some semolina or polenta over the paper first.

Bake 5 mins, then rotate the tray 180°. Turn the oven down to 220° and bake another 5 mins, or until they’re nicely browned all over.

Cool on the tray for a few minutes, then move to a cooling rack – if you leave them on the tray they’ll sweat a bit. Sweaty bagels is not what you’re after.

When it’s cool enough to handle, cut it in half, smear with cream cheese, and enjoy! These are lovely and chewy, which is exactly how a bagel ought to be, in my opinion.

Oh, and Dad, I went to the footy on your behalf too. What’s that? You wouldn’t know an AFL game if it jumped up and bit you on the butt? Oh. Well. In that case I guess I went to the footy for me.


Lyndal and I at the footy, celebrating Father's Day sans fathers.


Love you, Dad.


P.S. Offical bagel tasting will take place tomorrow, when an actual American will be forced to eat the bagel and provide feedback.