Bake Off Challenge – Bagels
The Bake Off Challenges are a series of posts I’m doing to celebrate my 100th post. I’ve challenged myself to have a go at making something from, or inspired by, ‘The Great British Bake Off‘ – an English programme in which 12 contestants have to bake something different every week. It will hopefully improve my baking skills and as I go, I’ll spill my guts about how hard these things actually are to make!
Tuesday night showed the second episode of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and this week, the tasks were baking flat breads, an eight strand plaited loaf and bagels. I was quite tempted to try the eight strand plait, but after seeing how all the contestants struggled I decided to switch to having a go at bagels. I never really thought of bagels as being something you can bake at home – strange really, as they’re very similar to bread! Rachel was very keen to try bagel-making with me, so this was a team effort.
This recipe is adapted from ‘Bread and Bread Machines’, by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter.
The dough used is the same as bread dough, so we sieved 12oz of white bread flour and 2 teaspoons of salt into a bowl before stirring in a 1/4oz sachet of dried yeast.
The recipe called for ‘malt extract’, which not only did we not have but I have no idea what it is! My mum said honey would make a suitable substitute, so we mixed one teaspoon of it with 7 1/2 fl. oz of warm water. This mixture was then poured into a well we made in the flour before being mixed into a dough.
Once the dough had ‘doughed’ sufficiently, we put it on a lightly floured board and kneaded it until it was ‘elastic’ (we had no idea what this meant, but we stopped when it was kind of stretchy and nice and smooth on top).
We couldn’t decide what flavour bagels we wanted, so we split the dough into three to make three different types. Rachel went for a tomatoey flavour by adding sundried tomato pesto, while I chose rosemary and sea salt (which I sprinkled on the top). We kept the others plain, but added poppy seeds on the top of a few of them before they went in the oven.
After the pesto/rosemary had been added to the dough by a little more kneading, we popped them in some bowls that we had oiled to stop the dough sticking, and put some cling film over the top. We then left them for about an hour to double in size.
After the hour, we turned them out on to a lightly floured surface and kneaded for another 10 minutes. We then split two of the balls into 3 smaller ones and one of the balls into four smaller ones. These were then covered with clingfilm and left for a further 5 minutes.
After the five minutes, each of the smaller balls was shaped into a bagel. There are several methods of doing this, but the funnest by far was to make a hole and then spin it around on your finger, hoping it wouldn’t get too thin and fly off into the corner of the kitchen.
Once shaped, they were placed on a baking tray, with baking paper to stop them sticking, and left for 10-20 minutes. I kind of think they look like super-sized cheerios in this photo – they even have the three different colours!
There are plenty of things to do whilst waiting for them to rise for the final time, but by far the best is to snap a ginger bread man in half and pretend he’s having a swim with a bagel-dinghy!
Once you’ve had all the fun you can giving your gingerbread men a mini water-park holiday (which ideally takes the 10-20 minutes needed for the bagels to rise), you get to do the slightly scary bit of dropping the bagels into a pan of simmering water (with 1 tbsp of malt extract/honey). Leave them for about 1 minute and then turn them over and leave them for a further 30 seconds before fishing them out and placing them on a tea towel.
The poaching process seals the dough so they won’t rise any more when they’re cooked in the oven. It’s odd because they look like they’re still raw dough, but when you touch them they’re all hard as if they’re cooked already.
Once they’ve dried off a bit, place them on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Make up an egg wash by adding 2 teaspoons of water to an egg white and combining. Brush this over each bagel and then add any toppings you have. I added sea salt to my rosemary bagels and we added poppy seeds to three of the four plain ones.
Once suitably topped, place in the oven at 220 degrees C for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and then enjoy the tasty, chewy, satisfying taste of a bagel YOU JUST MADE AT HOME!!!!
I’m amazed at how well they turned out, and they are so tasty! It was fun making something completely different and although the process is quite lengthy, if you’ve got a spare afternoon I would definitely recommend giving them a go. Next time, I would love to try some different flavours. I’ve never really though of having a sweet bagel, but having tasted these I think cinnamon would work really well. It’s great because you can pretty much put anything you want in them and so get such a variety of flavours.
I would definitely say that my first proper Bake Off Challenge has been a success. Lets hope next week’s one goes just as well!
(I’m away working again until Tuesday, so I won’t be able to blog for a little while. But to fill the hours and hours you obviously spend reading my blog, why don’t you try and make these bagels? Go on, you won’t regret it!)