Following the bread making course I attended back in November (read here)  I’ve tried my hand at different types of bread, with various degrees of success, including bagels. I love bagels and I have been buying the ready made variety for many many years. Sainsbury’s bakery produces some very good ones, for example. I’m not sure how popular they are in Italy but perhaps Candi will comment on it. Anyway, I had always believed they would be far too difficult to make and never even thought of baking them myself. The idea to have a go came from the legendary programme the Great British bake off which I really enjoyed watching back in the summer. During the programme a group of contestants were given the challenge to bake all sort of weird and wonderful things and in each episode the worst contestant would be eliminated. Sure enough in one of the programmes one of the challenges was indeed to make some bagels. I was really intrigued by the fact that you have to boil them ( YES, boil them !) before you can bake them. How bizarre, I thought. Being a curious person I decided to attempt them. My first batch was passable but they were a bit on the dry side ( they should really be soft and chewy). Last week I had another attempt, this time following the River Cottage recipe and I was rather impressed with the end result. They looked quite professional, if I may be so bold,  and they tasted very nice too!


500g strong white bread flour

5g powdered dried yeast

10g fine salt

250ml warm water

20g caster sugar

50ml vegetable oil

To finish

1 egg, beaten (I used milk instead)

Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)


In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients to make a dough. Knead on a   clean surface until smooth and elastic. Shape into a round, coat with a   little extra oil and place in a clean bowl. Leave to rise, covered with a   plastic bag. When the dough has doubled in size, deflate it and divide into 8 pieces.

One at a time, roll into a ball. Make a hole in the middle using the handle of a wooden spoon and enlarge with your fingers.  Leave to prove, covered, on a lightly   oiled plastic board or metal baking sheet (not floured cloths or boards).

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Lightly oil a couple of baking sheets and in a   wide pan bring around a 10cm depth of water to the boil. When the bagels  have roughly doubled in size, they are ready for poaching. You will need to  do this in batches. Turn the pan of water down to a simmer, then slip as  many bagels as will fit comfortably into the water (allow room for them to puff up).

Cook for a minute on each side, then remove and drain on a clean tea towel (not   kitchen paper as it will stick). When they are all poached, lay the bagels   on the baking sheets. Brush   all over with beaten egg or milk, then sprinkle with seeds if you like. Bake for 15  minutes, until the bagels are a uniform, glossy golden brown. Cool on a wire   rack.

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