One of the nicest things about being home in London, as opposed to my student house in Leeds, is that my parents turn the heating on. Those familiar to uni life will be familiar with the phrase ‘Can we just turn the heating on for an hour?’, said in a desperate tone at 6pm whilst you’re wearing leggings, fluffy socks, a thermal top, a jumper and a fleece and sitting under a blanket.
Yes the luxury of central heating (& properly insulated accommodation) means that at least I’m not getting frostbite as I revise over the holidays. It ALSO means that bread baking – especially sourdough situations – is 100% more easy-breezy. Take these bagels for example, I think I tested them in Leeds about 3 times before getting the method right there. I tested it in London one last time and managed to shorten the process because the dough was taking about half the time to rise. Hooray! I added some commercial yeast as well as sourdough starter because of the rising situation (when I didn’t add yeast, the bagels were super dense) but just a 1/2 tsp is enough.
If you haven’t made bagels before, it’s a bit of a weird process where you boil the shaped bagel dough before baking them – it helps to acheive that chewy crust and gets the sesame seeds to (partially) stick on… although a lot of them will still fall off in the toaster. If that annoys you, a little glaze of egg wash after the bagels have been boiled and before baking, will help those sesame seeds stick a bit better!
- 160 g wholemeal strong flour
- 160 g water
- 2 tbsp sourdough starter, (100% hydration)
- *, (alternatively use 350g of 100% sourdough starter which has been fed the night before)
- 1/2 tsp fast action dried yeast
- 120 g lukewarm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 150 g white strong flour
- 190 g wholemeal strong flour
- 1 tsp salt
For the pot:
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- sesame seeds
For the Levain:
- Mix the flour, water and sourdough in a small bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave for 8-12 hours at room temperature.
For the dough:
- Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water in a large bowl. Pour the levain into the large bowl along with the sugar, both flours and the salt. Mix to form a rough dough then tip the contents of the bowl out onto a clean worksurface. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, dusting your hands and the dough with flour as needed to stop it sticking to the surface. Pour a little vegetable oil into the large bowl you were using earlier, place the dough into it and turn to coat. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 4 hours.
- Punch down the dough, divide it into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Poke a hole in the centre of each ball and stretch it into a hoop - you want the hole to be about 2-3cm wide. Place on an oiled baking tray and cover with oiled cling film then leave in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, bring a large pot of water to the boil and preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F).
- Once the water is boiling, stir in the sugar and baking soda and turn the heat down to simmer. Gently lower in a bagel - it’ll sink at first and then float to the surface. Add another bagel to the pot if it'll fit. Let the bagels simmer in the pot for two minutes then flip and boil for another 2 minutes on the other side.
- Remove the boiled bagels from the pot using a slotted spoon and place back onto the greased baking tray. Immediately sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Repeat the boiling & sesame seed sprinkling with the rest of the shaped bagels. You can arrange them so they’re almost touching on the baking tray as they won’t really rise in the oven.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes until deep golden. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before slicing in half and eating. They'll keep in a plastic bag for 2-3 days.
- (Tip: if you know you won't eat the bagels within 2 days, slice them and place into a ziplock bag to freeze. You can toast them straight from frozen)