I haven’t made bagels in over a year. I used to make them for my cousin and now i’m making them for Bob. Dug out my trusted Hamelman recipe. They weren’t quite the same: you just can’t do without the high-gluten, very strong flour to get that dense, chewy NY-style bagel, and I also had to substitute honey for malt syrup. I should be glad I even got bagels at all. I had skipped one line in the recipe (something about the faint print and the wide spacing between each ingredient column, and squinting at the book over your shoulder…i’ve almost tripped up over the ingredients many times) and I ended up with a ton more yeast than called for. Thankfully I realised the stupidity and tried frantically to scoop it out.

Hamelman’s recipe for the home baker halved (makes about 8 good-sized bagels)
450g                                High-gluten flour
262g                                Water
1 tsp                                 Diastatic malt powder
1/2 TBS                            Salt
slightly less than 1/2tsp    Instant yeast
Malt syrup & toppings of your choice

1. Mix all ingredients minus the malt syrup and knead hard. I did this by hand. The dough is very stiff so comes together very quickly. If, like me, you’re used to folding wet doughs, this will feel strange. When I used to use high-gluten Canadian flour with a mixer, the dough came together in seconds and was a hard, bound-up mass of dough. I now recognise this is quite essential to getting that dense bagel.

2.Proof for one hour.

3.Divide and shape. I lined a tray with parchment paper, sprinkled rice flour, then placed shaped bagels on top. No stickiness at all the next day. Then cling film and plastic bagged the lot, and into the fridge.

4.Preheat oven to 250 degrees celsius. Hamelman’s description of the next steps are for the professional kitchen, I reckon, with bagel boards etc. What I do instead is, when oven is about ready, bring a big pot of water to the boil and add malt syrup (honey in this case). Hamelman says to add enough syrup until the water resembles “strong tea”. Bear in mind that honey is lighter-coloured so you won’t be getting that dark look! Drop in as many bagels as you can without crowding them. Poach for less than a minute—they’re ready when they puff up and rise to the surface.

5.I then removed them with a slotted spoon and drained them on a dishcloth while I dropped the rest of the bagels into the pot. Then it’s just the toppings and into the oven they go. The wet bagels generate plenty of steam on their own, so no need to add moisture.

In about 20 mins, you’ll have your fresh bagels, and that’s always reason for cheer. Even though, in our case, it was more bready than bagelly. Also, please do make sure there’s some cream cheese (and lox!) on hand. We had ours with butter, and it’s just not the same.

bagels with spread

2 thoughts on “Bagels

  1. Joanna

    You can get that flour in England, Waitrose do a 15% Canadian wheat protein flour that is very good for bagels. The other thing I saw the other day on a site called the flour bin was that you can get gluten by itself, maybe it would be worth getting a bag of that and then maybe you could add it in to your flour as needed for specific recipes? Anyway I would eat your bready bagels anyday, I think they look great 🙂

  2. michaelawah Post author

    Thank you Joanna. That’s the flour I used to use. But gluten is an idea too! I’ve seen gluten in shops here but didn’t think of it, so thanks for reminding me!


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