I have made bread maybe 4 or 5 times so far, and I haven’t really enjoyed it, so when my (now almost gone) gluten intolerance came along I ditched any bread making attempts, with almost a smile.
I’ve seen many really top notch bread on fellow bloggers’ sites, and have always thought mmm, really good, but not for me. Recently though when I received Baking with Julia and read the lifelong driving passion of some amazingly dedicated bread bakers I felt the stirrings of interest in baking my own crust and crumb again. The pictures made it look quite fun. So I thought to myself I think I should give it at least one more try, and when the June Challenge for the Daring Bakers was announced to make bagels I thought well it’s going to be sooner rather than later!
Yeasty mix and flour ready to be combined.
Bagels originated in either Austria or Poland. The story goes that the original bagel or should I say bugel was first baked by a baker in Vienna for the King to celebrate his triumph of saving the city from invaders. The original was in the shape of a stirrup or ‘bugel’ in German. In Poland bagels were given to new Mothers to symbolise the circle of life. They were introduced to the countries that most of us now associate with bagels by Jewish immigrants. (my source for this history is The Best of Better Baking.com by Marcy Goldman and Yvan Huneault).
Kneaded and ready to rise.
The word bagel speaks to me of leaden wheat-y circles, that are pretty hard to swallow! I tried shop bought – supermarket as opposed to baker’s artisan bread – with much glee as a teenager first and thought they were pretty horrible. I gave them another go a few years ago, but still this bread was not to be my friend. So it was with much trepidation that I started the challenge. I buoyed myself up with the never forgotten images from a TV programme from inside a Jewish bakery in New York city. What I remember is bagels in a large vat of water floating to the top, before being scooped out and placed on trays. The other thing I remember is equally large amounts of boiling oil for latkes, but that’s a different story.
Risen and ready to be formed.
So a bageling I went. They are a bit labour intensive to make, but it’s all different steps, so it’s not monotonous – well except for the boiling of the rings.
I was (even as a decidedly non-expert bread baker) pretty surprised by the amount of yeast – 4 tablespoons! I tried to reckon this against the other recipes I have in books and I wonder if it should have been 4 teaspoons? I stuck with the recipe though and had really monster bagel as a result, they just kept on rising! You proof the yeast. Add salt and flour. Knead for a while. Leave to rise in an oiled bowl. Shape. Boil then leave on tea towels. Then finally bake on a tray of cornmeal before cooling.
Monster Lumpy Bagels!!
I was 50/50 pleased and disappointed with my bagels. I'll start with the disappointment, they just were not pretty! I wanted them to look if not perfect then shiny and smooth, and well they just didn’t, they weren’t 100 miles off but I like things to look pretty. The positive was that they tasted better than any bagel we’ve eaten before them, they actually tasted of what they were made of and they were lovely with the toppings. Although they are meant to be a savoury, and you can add toppings of caraway seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, slivered onion pre baking I wanted them to be absolutely plain so didn’t even glaze them. I went traditional with smoked salmon and cream cheese, plain with good butter and my favourite, though I’m sure inauthentic butter and raspberry jam!
Bagels with Butter, Smoked Salmon and Raspberry Jam.
Thank you to this months hosts Jenny and Freya for choosing the recipe for us all. If you'd like to try this recipe you'll find it by clicking on the hosts names. I can say absolutely that I would not have made these otherwise, but I’m glad I did – even if they were not as perfect looking as I had hoped, and if I ever pass a real Jewish bakers I’m going in for some bagels! More bagels posts by clicking away on the list on the right under Daring Bakers.