400g strong white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh yeast
250ml lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Place the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid and add the olive oil.
- Have a little water to hand to add if necessary. Remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough as it forms. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.
- Knead by flattening the dough out, folding it over and flattening it again. If the dough is too sticky, instead of putting extra flour on your worktop, place some in the bowl, put the dough back in and turn it round to coat it all over. That way you keep the flour under control and you won’t be tempted to add too much. Knead until the dough becomes smooth – and then stop before you get fed up!
- When you are ready to proceed, put a large pan of water on to boil, about 5-6cm deep and put the oven on at 220C, 425F or gas 7. Place the dough onto your worktop and either divide it into 12 pieces (for large bagels) or 16 pieces (for medium sized ones).
- Form each piece into a bun shape and make a hole in the centre. The hole needs to be at least three times the thickness of the dough, otherwise the hole will close up – and you’ll just have a dimpled roll! Start by pushing your finger through each one, gradually enlarging the hole until it is wide enough to put two fingers in from each side – and keep going. Another fun way to enlarge the hole is to put one on the floured worktop, put your finger in the hole and gently ‘whizz’ it around. Good for kids (and I confess I haven’t grown up yet, so I enjoy this method!). Place on a floured chopping board.
- Let them rise for a little while until you see that they’ve increased slightly in size. Take your bagels over to the pan of water. With the water just simmering, gently lower several bagels into the water, one at a time. Don’t overcrowd the pan because the bagels will plump out considerably in the hot water.
- Using an egg slice, flip the bagels over after a minute or two (wet the side of the pan first, so they don’t stick). Give them a minute or two on that side then take them out, place them on a prepared baking sheet and put them straight into the oven.
- Now bring the water back to the simmer and repeat with the rest of the bagels. The bagels are done when they are brown underneath.
Variations:Like a lot of bread recipes (ciabatta springs to mind), bagels are a technique as well as being a bread in its own right. Many different recipes can be converted to bagels, starting with a spicy fruit bun recipe