Sunday morning Bagels

Mr Ranty has been boasting on Twitter about my bagel making abilities, shaming me into admitting that I haven’t made them for over a year.

Now that I have a shiny new oven and boxes full of flour and chillies, I have no excuse, so this weekend seemed perfect for bagel baking. Yes, chilies, you read that right, I have boxes and boxes of the stuff, thanks to Mr Ranty who is prepping for a Chile Cook Off event, but that’s a subject for another post.
I was debating which recipe to go for – I’ve only ever tried Julia Child (with Lauren Groveman) bagel recipe, after getting inspired by her video, but the last couple of times I used that recipe the bagels turned out a bit dry. So I researched bagel recipes and settled on Sophisticated Gourmet and A Beautiful Mess recipes – which a pretty much identical. The flour to water ratio in the recipes made sense and it was fairly close to what I was used to with Julia’s recipe.

When it comes to the flavour of the bagels, I would really love to be more adventurous, but I normally stick to either plain white with lots of different toppings, or jalapeno and cheddar bagels, as it is Mr Ranty’s absolute favourite flavour.
What I would really love to do one day is Everything Bagels – not just the topping, but the proper mix of different flavours of dough inside a bagel, and I would love to know how to make proper American Pumpernickel Bagel, and Honey Wholemeal Bagel, and Blueberry Bagel, and Chocolate Chip Bagel, and, and, and …

So this time around I settled on two flavours – Jalapeno and Cheddar (of course) and Cinnamon and Raisin …
Jalapeno and Cheddar Bagel
Makes 8

350 ml water, warm
1 (7g) pack of active dry yeast
1 ½ Tbsp caster sugar
500g very strong white flour
1 ½ tsp salt
20g cheddar, grated on the finest grater you can find
1-2 Jalapeno pepper (fresh or dried), finely chopped

Cheddar cheese, grated
Egg white

Cinnamon and Raisin Bagel
Makes 8

350 ml milk, warm
1 (7g) pack of active dry yeast
2 Tbsp soft brown sugar
500g very strong white flour
1 ½ tsp salt
20g butter
80g raisins
2-3 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla (optional)

Soft brown sugar
Egg white (you will only need one egg white for both lots of bagels)

For boiling
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda

This is a two-day recipe, so start on Friday evening for Saturday morning/afternoon bagels or Saturday evening for Sunday morning bagels.

As always, I use a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment for my dough recipes, but this dough is very easy to make by hand.

Place warm water (milk), yeast and sugar in a standing mixer, and leave for about 5 minutes to activate the yeast. Add flour and salt and mix for about 5 minutes on speed 1, until the dough comes together and wraps itself around the hook. Add grated cheese and chopped jalapenos (or raisins, cinnamon, soft butter and vanilla) and mix for another 3 minutes on speed 2.

For jalapeno and cheddar bagels, use any jalapeno you like – fresh, frozen, dried, etc. Mr Ranty buys his from Cool Chile Co, and asked me to use Chile Chipotle (Meco) variety to see what flavour it adds to the bagel. I chickened out and only used one chile, but it can easily takes two or maybe even three, so add as much as you like. Don’t use too much cheddar in the actual bagels themselves, as too much cheese would impact the texture of the bagels, better to add more on top later when you bake them.

For cinnamon raisin bagels, I’d say 80g of fruit is about right, but it could take up to 100g if you prefer your bagels more fruity. After years of not liking cinnamon, I finally made my peace with that spice, and now I am a big fan of it. Always use more cinnamon than you think you need, the dough can take it. I wasn’t sure about vanilla, so I added a little bit of it – haven’t really made that much difference to be honest. Oh, plus when I started mixing the dough, I discovered that what I thought was a bag of raisins is in fact a bag of currants, but I figured – same same, right?

Mix the dough until its reasonably soft in consistency, soft but not too sticky, the dough should come away from your hands and/or counter reasonably well. Try not to add too much flour, its better to err on the soft side, total amount of flour used shouldn’t be more than 530g.
You will notice that I am using cheese/butter in my recipes unlike most of the bagel recipes you find online. I do feel that Julia has is right – that extra bit of shortening – whether its cheese or butter – adds to the flavour and structure of bagels. I might stick with water from now on, I think milk tends to make bagels a bit too much bun-like.

Anywho, grease a large bowl (or two in my case, one for each flavour) with melted butter, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for a couple of hours, until the dough has doubled in volume. Its not terribly warm in London at the moment, so I came up with a little trick for proving – place the bowl with dough in the oven and turn the light on, without turning the temperature on. The little light provides enough heat to warm up inside of the oven, and makes a perfect temperature for proving.

Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back, and place it covered in the fridge overnight. In here again I deviate from most of bagel recipes and follow Julia’s approach. First, cause you just don’t mess with Julia, do you? And secondly cause it fits my schedule better.

Next morning – take the dough out of the fridge and leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours till it warms up a little bit, but it doesn’t have to be room temperature or anything.
Turn the oven on at 220C and place a large pot of water on the stove to boil while you are prepping your bagels
Divide each dough in 8 equal parts and shape them into tight little balls – cover with a tea towel and leave for about 10-15 minutes.
Shape the bagels – cover with a tea towel and leave for another 10-15 minutes. There are two schools of thought on shaping the bagels – what I call “sausage and join” or “hole and stretch”. Either roll each ball in a sausage and join to ends to make a bagel, or poke a hole in the ball, and use two index fingers to stretch it to make a bagel. I prefer the later, as I think it makes a fluffier, more even bagel shape, plus the join method one sometimes come apart during the boil. Always make the hole in the middle much later than you think it should be, the dough strings back A LOT during the boil and the bake, otherwise you end up with a bun rather than a bagel.

 Once the water came to boil, add sugar and soda to it, and turn the heat down (to medium) so the water is just simmering. Place 2-3 bagels in the water (depends how wide your pot is) at a time – they shouldn’t sink to the bottom, but rather float on top. Boil for a minute or so before flipping over and boiling for a minute on another side. Take the bagels out with a slotted spoon, and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment. Pat the tops of bagels lightly with paper towels to take off any excess moisture.
Put an egg white through a strainer, to remove any stringy bits – it seems like a lot of faff, and you end up with bugger all egg white, but it really is worth it. I tried it once with egg white as it is, as the tops turned out too egg-y.
Brush the tops of bagels with the egg white and sprinkle with desired topping – cheese for jalapeno and cheddar or sugar and cinnamon for cinnamon and raisin bagels.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bagels are golden-brown and the bottoms sound hollow when tapped. Try not to over-bake them, and they will go too dry. Leave bagels to cool on a cooling rack, covered with a kitchen towel.
Eat them plain or toasted, with plenty of butter/cream cheese/jam/whatever your heart desires


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