When I was younger, I was taken on a mystery trip deep into the heart of London, where I lived at the time.
Despite what tourism may lead you to believe, London is a very big place and it is very possible to live and travel around there without ever heading out to places like Trafalgar square, Big Ben and other monuments.
The place we were heading certainly wasn’t a tourist area and to know such places exist is one of the beauties of being a local.
We ended up in a small Jewish community where men and boys wore their religious hats freely, but we weren’t there for that part of their culture.
We were there for the bakery, or to be more specific, the bagels!
I had never tried a bagel before that day, maybe even never contemplated what one was, but when one was handed to me, full of tuna, mayonnaise and sweetcorn I just had to try it, just once.
I was in love, this bagel had to have been the nicest bread I had ever tasted and I then understood exactly why we travelled so far and to such a remote place.
I finished before we had chance to even get back in the van, despite being a child usually not very interested in food, and when I was kindly offered another, I greedily accepted!
From that day on, I proclaimed “I LOVE bagels!”
My mother, catching wind of a food I really enjoyed, would buy me bagels from the supermarket but they were never the same, what I loved about those bagels so much wasn’t there, were they really even the same food?!
I never knew the name of that bakery, or even it’s roundabout location and now, living 200 miles away from London, it would be a little far to travel.
So I took the plunge and made my own!
While I have cooked quite a few breads before, the idea of creating the bagel shape and boiling bread both made me rather nervous about this new challenge!
It all went fine though and even though some of the bagel shapes have a bit of their own…. character, their taste is lovely and I have to say, I remembered why I love bagels again!
A Dozen Chewy Bagels
270 calories each
850g plain flour
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon table salt
8g dry active yeast
500ml lukewarm water
A little oil for greasing
Water for boiling
Weigh the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
Into the hole, add the yeast and place the salt to the side of it.
Gradually add the lukewarm water, while kneading, until half of the water has been used.
At this step, add in the honey and again, gradually add the water while kneading until a dough is formed.
Remove the dough and grease the bowl, placing the dough back in the bowl.
Leave covered in a warm place for an hour, or until doubled in size.
Using a set of scales, weigh the dough and divide it into 12 equally weighted pieces accordingly.
Prepare two baking trays with greased greaseproof paper and shape each dough piece into a round, as if making a roll or bun.
Next, pierce the middle of each bun shape with your finger until it goes all the way through and gently stretch it out to give your finger some wiggle room.
Now carefully swirl your finger around, as if using a mini hula hoop, until the hole in each is evenly opened up.
Leave them covered in a warm place to rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 180oc and place a pan of water on to boil.
When the water start boiling, carefully remove two bagels and place them in the pot, don’t over crowd them!
Boil them for one minute on each side, until puffed.
Now remove them with a spatula, be careful as they will be very slippery and still pliant!
Repeat the process with all of the bagels and place them in the heated oven for 25 minutes, turning at the 15 minute mark.
If a batch can’t be placed in the oven right away, cover with cling film so they stay moist.
Leave the bagels to cool and enjoy them with cream cheese, ham, tuna mayo and sweetcorn or perfectly plain!