Monday, 21 April 2014

Homemade Bagels

I have been quite the traveller over the past month or so, from Hong Kong to the Lake District, with a long stretch in London between. I have been down in the big smoke working in two professional kitchens over the last fortnight. My first week took me to Rochelle Canteen, a wonderful little place in Shoreditch that serves breakfast and lunch and caters for various events and parties. The second week took me to Quo Vadis, at the heart of Soho’s busy restaurant scene. The aim being to gain a better insight into the professional kitchen, learn some new skills for the future and expand my horizons. I’ve been running my own dining events for nearly two years now and I thought it was about time I learnt a bit better how the professionals went about it. I will tell you more about what I learnt over the next week or so because a lot of it was incredibly delicious and interesting.

In the mean time back to recipes; all this travelling has meant very little time for recording anything I have cooked over the past few months, and there has actually been some pretty tasty stuff. I’ll start with these homemade bagels, a world away from what you buy in the supermarket, they are totally delicious. I was inspired by the famous Salt Beef bagels of Brick Lane, fresh bagels, stuffed with warm soft salt beef, pickles and English mustard. So good that I had to set about recreating them myself. The salt beef is brisket, brined for two weeks then braised for hours, I’ll share the recipe soon as it is definitely one of my new favourite things. But first the bagels...

These amounts will make 8 bagels. First take 450g of strong white bread flour and add 2 teaspoons of salt and 7g of dried yeast. Then combine 250ml of warm water, 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, mix, add to the flour and bring together into a ball of dough. It shouldn’t be too sticky, add a bit more flour if it is and knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes.

Then leave to rise in a lightly oiled bowl covered with cling film for 3 hours in a warm spot. When it has risen, to at least double in size take it out of the bowl and divide into 8 pieces. Now for the bagel shaping; I found rolling them into a long thin sausage then joining the ends with a dab of water to be my preferred method. You can also make them into a ball, stick your finger through the middle and spin it around your finger a bit to widen it, but I found the holes in these bagels closed up more while cooking. When you have formed your bagels put them back on a tray, covered with cling film and let them rest for 10 minutes. Do not leave them much longer than this; you don’t want them to start to rise again. I had a disaster with one batch where the initial dough was a bit too soft and then I left them too long to rest and they were just too soft to poach or bake, I ended up with giant bagel pancakes.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil while they rest and add 3 tablespoons of honey, which gives the outside of the bagel a very slight sweetness, you can also use a dark treacle for added colour and a slightly different flavour. At the same time put the oven on at 220°C. When the bagels have finished their resting you need to poach them, I did 3 at a time in a very large pan, be careful not to over crowd them. Make sure the water is simmering, then carefully pick up your bagels one at a time and drop them into the boiling water. They will float and bob about, you need to poach them for 1-2 minutes on the first side, then turn them and poach for a further 1-2 minutes on the other side, then remove to a baking tray.

The longer you poach them the chewier a crust you will achieve. They will increase in size in the water and also look like they have a slight batter like appearance to the outside when you take them out. Continue until they are all poached and then brush the top of each bagel with an egg wash. You can also sprinkle them with poppy seeds or sesame seeds at this point if you fancy.

Place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes until they are golden brown. They really are a whole different species than those found in the supermarket, that always seem to taste of either nothing or cardboard. These are light and slightly sweet inside with a delicious chewy crust. Filled with salt beef, mustard and sweet cucumber pickle I found myself overcome with joy... one of the most satisfying meals I have ever made, if you can call a sandwich a meal, which I definitely do...


  1. I've been thinking about making my own bagels for as while but haven't done so yet! Thanks for sharing - you've given me the inspiration that I needed.

    1. Ah that's great to hear! Hope they turn out well!

      Anna x

  2. A simple but good tip regarding rolling them rather than pushing your finger through. I made bagels a few years back and they did indeed close up as I followed the finger method as instructed by the recipe I used.
    Looking forward to reading how your London experience has reshaped your ideas and way of thinking. Sous Vide cooking changed my view of things as a home cook a couple of years ago but I still like the traditional ways better (most of the time).


Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x