My parents are bagel snobs. Having lived in New York for a number of years, they both have very high standards when it comes to this particular breakfast item. You can get alright bagels here in the supermarket (and really good ones from Brick Lane but, allow, that’s the other side of London) however apparently they’re not as good as the ones in NYC.
In fact, my mum is so insistent on boycotting the ones here that a few years ago after visiting her friend in New York she came back with half a suitcase of bagels from The Bagel Store in Brooklyn. She brought me a French Toast one – heelloooo yes, yes I will eat that. (Maybe that should be the next bagel bread loaf flavour adventure?). They were much chewier than the ones I was used to with a kind of sticky texture which welcomed a layer of cream cheese.
Due to this bad bagel situation I did attempt making them once in the past – half of them worked beautifully and the other half kind of looked like someone had sat on them… They just deflated :/ So I was like eff that, I can live without bagels and resorted to spreading poppyseed-sprinkled cream cheese onto my regular toast. (It does taste pretty good but not as good as the real deal)
I think that recently bagels have started to have a bad rep due to how ‘calorie dense’ they are. I’ve seen breakfast suggestions on health websites being all like ‘half a whole wheat bagel topped with 1 tsp of low fat peanut butter’. Errrm I don’t know about you but if I’m eating a bagel I am committed to it. I will put the whole damn thing in the toaster, spread on as much cream cheese as I dare and eat it all. I do know people who would probably only be able to eat half of one and some who could eat WAY more than one so I came up with a solution.
A sliceable bagel loaf.
Want half a bagel? Sure! Grab a slice, the rest won’t go stale.
Ate one bagel and still feel like you want another half? GO FOR IT. Three slices and you won’t piss anyone off by leaving half a bagel in the bread bin.
It applies the same method as regular bagel making – boil risen pieces of dough briefly in some water pre-bake – but simplifies the shaping step and is baked in a loaf tin instead of separately.
Of course, this is just a basic recipe here (the only slight twist was using some whole wheat flour because I like the flavour, but you can swap that out for plain if you wish) so you can change it as you please. I adore cinnamon-raisin bagels (who would have guessed?) so next time I make it I’ll probably knead some into the dough after the first rise and maybe sprinkle the outside of the loaf with cinnamon-sugar.
Whatever, the world is our bagel oyster. All hail bagel-loaf!!
– Recipe adapted from the ‘New York Bagel’ recipe in Hand Made Baking by Kamran Siddiqui
– I’ve used all the water stated in the recipe every time I have made this but, as Kamran says in the recipe, you may need less water depending on the flour you’re using.
– If you don’t have anywhere to leave the dough to rise you can create the perfect environment using your oven: boil some water and pour it into a shallow bowl or tray, place this inside your oven right at the bottom then turn the oven light on. Place your dough into the oven to rise – it should stay nice and warm in there without being too hot.
– Some bagel recipes require you to egg glaze them, some don’t. I added the egg glazing step to the recipe to ensure the pieces of dough stuck to each other after baking so the loaf would stay whole and also so the seeds on top would adhere well.
Bagel Bread Loaf
- 2 cups (250 g) white bread flour
- 1 1/3 cups (160 g ) wholemeal bread flour
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp active dried yeast
- 1 1/4 cups (310 ml) warm water
For boiling & finishing:
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp golden syrup , malt syrup or sugar
- 1 egg , beaten
- Sesame seeds or poppy seeds for sprinkling
Stir together the flours and salt in a large bowl.
In a jug, mix the sugar, yeast and roughly half of the water together. Set aside for 5 minutes until slightly bubbly. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the yeast mixture in. Add half of the remaining water to the bowl as well. Stir it all together with your hands, adding more water as needed*. Tip the contents of the bowl out onto a clean work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and firm.
Lightly oil the bowl, return the dough to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour.
Punch the risen dough down and divide into 5 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and flatten into a thick oval. Place onto a floured baking tray and cover with oiled cling film. Leave to prove for 30 minutes in a warm place.
Meanwhile, bring about 2 litres of water to the boil in a large pot. Stir the baking soda, salt and syrup/sugar into the water and leave to simmer. Oil or butter a large loaf tin and use the sesame or poppy seeds to 'flour' the tin (if you don't want to use seeds, just oiling the loaf tin is fine).
Preheat the oven to 350 F (200 C). Use a slotted spoon to drop one oval of dough into the simmering water - boil for 1 minute then flip and boil for 1 minute on the other side. Remove from the water with the slotted spoon then place into the loaf tin. Repeat with the other ovals of dough, lining them up inside the tin next to each other. Brush the cracks in between the dough ovals with beaten egg to ensure they stick together during baking. Brush the top of the loaf with beaten egg and sprinkle on more sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Bake for 30-40 minutes until dark golden. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely before slicing.