My memories of bagels dates back to the days I huddled under covers watching my favourite drama, Felicity. Since the drama is set in NYC, the characters are always eating a bagel or two and those assortment of bagels always looked exceptionally tantalising, especially late into the night.
My best friend and I have talked about sharing a loft in NY and bonding over bagels with cream cheese like the characters on the show during our college days. That’s why, to me, bagels are reminiscent of those days of hopes, dreams and endless possibilities.
As I embarked on the baking of these bagels, I was transported back in time to the days of watching Felicity and making grand plans.
I think it’s hard not to love a bagel. You can have just about every flavour to please everyone. I like mine with chopped almonds and sea salt though it may not be the most conventional.
These bagels are easy to make and they come out really great. I dare bet that they are better than any store-bought bagel on our sunny island. These golden bagels are a little crusty on the outside but chewy and dense on the inside – that’s the way I like my bagel, slated with a thick layer of cream cheese.
I wanted to take some photos of the insides of each bagel but they were gone before I got down to that. Will get some shots the next time, I promise.
*I dedicate this post to my best friend and our daydreams of yesteryear.
Makes 10 regular bagels
Adapted from Ultimate bread by Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno
If you like your bagels chewy and dense in the middle, this recipe is for you!
500g bread flour
1.5 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
1.5 tsp salt
approximately 300ml tap water
Boiling mixture for bagels:
1.5 tbsp malt syrup
1 tsp salt
about a litre of water
Suggested toppings: black sesame, sea salt, dried herbs, finely chopped fresh garlic, cinnamon sugar
1. Preparing the dough: Put in all your dry ingredients in your mixer bowl and using a dough hook start to mix as you pour in water. Add in half of the water first and mix on slow speed (I use speed 1 on my Kitchenaid). Add in the rest of the water or as much as you need until the dough comes together (and away from the bowl). You may not use all the water as this is dependent on many factors including the environment. Mix it for about 5 minutes before increasing the speed to medium-fast.
2. Fermenting the dough: Pick the dough out of the mixer bowl and round it until its top is smooth. Place the rounded dough into your lightly floured mixer and cling wrap the bowl. Place it in a warm and dark corner of your kitchen (I like to use my oven for this purpose). Let the dough ferment for about 1 hr or until about double in size.
3. Take the dough out of the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knock back the air bubbles (by folding the dough over one-third back onto itself) Let the dough rest for another 10 – 15 minutes.
4. Scaling the dough: Divide the dough 10 equal portions. I use a kitchen scale to weigh the dough.
5. Shaping the bagel: Shape all the 10 pieces into rounds. Ensure that the top is smooth and elastic. Then, use your index finger, make a hole in the centre of the round and rotate it around your finger to enlarge the hole as evenly as possible. You will need to enlarge the hole quite a bit as the hole shrinks after resting.
6. Proving the dough: Allow the bagel dough to half-prove by allowing them to sit on a floured kitchen counter covered with a kitchen towel for about 30 minutes.
7. In the meantime, bring a pot of water to boil. Turn down the fire after it boils and add in the salt and malt syrup till the water becomes tea-like in colour.
8. Boiling the bagels: Using a slotted spoon, lower the bagels, two at a time, into the pot. They will be floating on the surface of the water. Leave them in the pot for 1 minute on each side. Boiling the bagel gives the bagel its chewy texture.
9. Remove the water with a slotted spoon and transfer them onto your oven tray lined with baking paper.
10. Sprinkle your favourite toppings on your bagels and bake it in a pre-heated oven at 220 degrees Celsius for about 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.
11. Cool on a wire rack. Slice lengthwise and spread with your favourite spread (Mine is cream cheese) and serve!
*For the bagels with cinnamon and cream cheese filling, I baked these plain without toppings. When they are just out of the oven, I brush them with melted butter and dust a mixture of cinnamon over them.