It may be kind of silly to put yourself through a process of hard kneading, cooking, baking, not to mention the waiting time in order to get a dozen bagels, while you can get them on every corner and especially when you live just a couple of miles away from the first and the best British  BEIGEL SHOP (old fashioned spelling), established in 1855, suited at  Brick Lane Market.

Maybe, except for the two small details, that I bake and that I like a challenge; and this one for some reason was IT, the challenge. Despite the fact that I have been successfully making pretzels for some time now, the only way to go around it was to face the music. After substantial reading on the subject was completed, I felt that I was ready to write a serious essay on the history of bagels (the origins are however, yet to be established), but to bake them, hmm.  

In the end the brave heart in me ended the struggle.

The recipe in the LEITHS Baking Bible seemed to be well explained and easy to follow, except that I never used malt extract and had no idea where to get it from, not to mention that I was clueless about the purpose of the extract in the dough. My attempts to get it from the nearby stores failed, and because I didn't want to wait to get it any longer, ordering the extract on-line was not an option. It was  time for the plan B and for the Bread Revolution recipe, which calls for honey instead, which I liked.

 So to make one dozen of bagels we need:
750 gr strong bread flour
15 gr salt
15 gr fresh yeast ( 2 teaspoons dry yeast)
375 ml water
65 gr honey

Mix the flour and salt, then add the yeast dissolved in the water and honey. Then the hard work of kneading begins. You will need either a very strong pair of hands, or equally strong kneading machine. I recommend them both, so one can rest, while the other is at work. The dough that you are aiming for is firm and elastic, that passes the windowpane effect, (see-through) as shown in the picture above. When you are satisfied with the texture of the dough, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a dump cloth and leave to rise until it is doubled in size.

 Knock it back and divide into 12 equal parts. My dough weighed around 1,2 kg, so I measured each piece to be 100 gr. Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes, then flatten each one of them and using your fingers to make a hole in the middle. Then slowly widen it until you reach an even shaped circle. Dust the bagels in flour to stop the dough coming back together. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to prove for half an hour.

 Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6 and boil some water with a pinch of salt in a wide saucepan. Reduce to a simmer and poach one bagel at the time. For how long depends on how you prefer your bagels to be.  They are typically boiled for 30 to 60 seconds on each side ( which I did). The result is a thin and elastic crust that will allow the bagels to rise more in the oven and they will have a softer texture. The longer you boil them the thicker and chewier crust you will get, and they will barely rise in the oven. And about that malt extract that is added to the boiling water:after I baked them, I found out that it has similar role as lye or bicarbonate soda in poaching pretzels, helps the crust brown and gives it distinct flavour.

Remove the poached bagel using a fish slice, put it gently on a clean cloth to drain, sprinkle with seeds of your choice (or leave plain) and place on a baking tray, lined with non grease parchment.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until light gold in colour.

Enjoy the sweet taste of winning.

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