Why the obsession with making your own bread, you ask?
Because homemade bread is just a thousand times better (not to mention, loads cheaper too), that’s why.
I seriously couldn’t go back to eating shop-bought all the time now – I’m getting addicted to fresh, just-out-the-oven, yeasty, chewy homemade bread.
While I’ve made loaves, rolls, foccacia, pittas, wraps, chapattis, naans and pizza dough before, this is the first time I’ve ever made bagels. I am seriously impressed. Not only are they reasonably simple, but they’re just delicious.
I’m loving the poppy seed topping, but you can leave plain (skip the egg-wash in that case) or swap for sesame seeds, or anything you want really. With a little experimentation you could no doubt come up with cinnamon and raisin (but I won’t, because raisins = bleugh), or wholemeal, or onion bagels (reckon you’d use dried onions for these – they are super cheap in Morrisons, something like 40p for a pack, so I might need to try this soon).
I followed this recipe for the basic bagel technique, and the only thing I’d change is to make fewer, bigger bagels, because I found them just a little small. I think cutting the mix into six would be perfect so I’ve suggested that in the recipe. The other thing is that while the recipe is easy to follow, it was really hard to shape the bagels – hence why mine look a bit wonky. I guess practise will make perfect with them!
I think next time I’d also double the recipe and freeze most of them, purely because you get enough egg-wash from one egg to do so and it seems a shame to waste it (though it would be hard to knead that much dough, as it’s really stiff – so your call really!).
Poppy seed bagels | Makes six at 12p each
- 500g strong white flour 27p
- 2 tsp dried easy-blend yeast 14p
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar 1p
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (less than 1p)
- 275ml lukewarm water
To top (optional):
- 1 tbsp (10g) poppy seeds (or sesame seeds if preferred) 9p
- 1 egg, beaten, 17p
Mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar together (a good tip is to keep the salt separate from the yeast until they’re both in with the flour, as direct contact with salt can supposedly kill your yeast) in a large mixing bowl.
Add the water and mix in well. The mix will seem too dry at first, so tip onto a lightly floured board, wet your hands, and work on kneading it together for ten minutes. It will be hard work and if you need to after a few minutes, add a little more water by drizzling it on, but try not to add too much as it’s supposed to be a really stiff dough.
Once the kneading is done, pop the dough back into the cleaned bowl and cover. Leave to rise in a warmish place until doubled – it was a cold day so took me two hours.
Once doubled, take the dough out and knock back (knock the air out). Leave to rest for ten minutes, then cut into six equal pieces. Take each piece, one at a time, and shape into as even a ball as possible. Use your finger to poke a hole in the middle, then widen the hole, pulling and stretching at the dough, until you get a doughnut shape with a large hole in the middle (the hole will close up a bit in cooking, so make it big).
Make all the bagels the same way, then rest for ten minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and preheat your oven to 220C.
When the bagels have rested, drop each one (I did two batches as I had eight bagels) into the water – they should float to the top. Give them 1-2 minutes before flipping over, depending on how chewy you like them (2 minutes for chewy, one for less so). Flip and cook the other side for the same amount of time.
Fish the bagels out with a slotted spoon or similar and arrange on a baking tray (or two). Paint each with some of the beaten egg and top with a good sprinkling of the poppy seeds. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom. Allow to cool on a cooling rack if you have one.
7p per bagel for plain bagels and 12p each with the poppy seed topping. One egg would do double the bagels so it would be slightly cheaper to make double batches and freeze. The going rate for a four-pack of bagels at Asda is £1 at the moment, so 25p per bagel – need I say more?