Bagels are not just a shiny bread roll with a hole in the middle. Neither can they be called a savoury donut. A bagel is its very own creation with its chewy texture, malty flavour, and goodness to the last bite.
A good bagel is made with strong bread flour that has a higher protein content to enhance the gluten formation in the dough. This contributes to the bagel's chewy texture.
Bagels are one of the most difficult yeasted breads to make, but when you master a bagel, it is immensely satisfying. Here are our favourite tricks to making a good bagel via our yeasted Everything Bagel recipe.
Developing the dough
The bagel dough needs to be kneaded until it’s smooth and elastic. When you feel you’ve kneaded enough, just keep going a little longer. Keep kneading for approximately 10 minutes depending on your kitchen's ambient temperature. In order to achieve the perfect chewiness, it’s important the dough is allowed to develop. To check this, tear off a chunk of dough and stretch it between your fingers. If the dough tears, it hasn't developed enough gluten and it needs more kneading. If it stretches without breaking, making a windowpane of sorts, the dough has developed sufficiently and you can let it rest.
Once your dough has doubled in size, it’s time to shape your bagels. Make a hole in the centre of each ball. Rotate and stretch the hole until you’ve created a 3cm hole in the middle. Now, let the dough rest for another hour.
Why boil a bagel? Boiling bagels gives them their signature exterior texture. The boiling process allows the bagel to form a thin crust yet still allows them to rise in the oven, creating a softer texture. It also ensures your bagel doesn’t just bake like a bagel-shaped roll with a firm crust. Bagels must cook for 1 minute each side in a pot of boiling water with honey or malt syrup, bicarb and salt. These ingredients help the crust brown in the oven and give the crust its distinct flavour. Many bagels these days are steamed, however boiling your bagel will result in a better bagel. Be careful not to poach the bagels for longer than you have to - boiling inactivates (some of) the yeast and will prevent the bagels from rising.
After poaching, place your bagels on a lined or oiled tray and sprinkle them generously with the Everything Bagel Blend. Work quickly here. After seasoning, bake the bagels for 20-25 minutes in your pre-heated oven, until the tops are golden and the bases sound hollow when tapped.
For best results, allow your bagels to cool before cutting into them and enjoying them with the classic lox and smear.