In the middle of last week, late on a weekday evening I had been talking with Night Owl about how things had been before we had met. I had been romantically single for about five years at that point, and after moving out of the family home I became fiercely self-sufficient – my “lone wolf” syndrome had come to the forefront. My weekdays consisted of a strict regimen of work and gym, while my weekends were spent determinedly in the kitchen – cooking work lunches, snacks, and dinners for the week ahead, as well as constantly leafing through my many cookbooks for inspiration. I remember there was a time when I posted thrice a week on the blog – I honestly kept myself that busy. Lots of time spent on honing new techniques, money spent on a multitude of ingredients, and once the food was cooked it was always tasty but so rich and I was too exhausted at the end of it all to enjoy the fruits of my labours.
Interrupt the lone wolf transmission time and bring in a relationship, and my weekends are now spent mostly out of the kitchen. I’m lucky to be able to squeeze in time to make my work lunches, but something special for the blog? Psssssh.
Looking for inspiration now is difficult as I don’t have the time to leaf through my collection of cookbooks, let alone to go out hunting down hard-to-find ingredients. But I was grocery shopping one morning in the bread section and it was while contemplating if I should buy the discounted bagels that I decided to make some myself. I’ve heard Night Owl’s housemates talk of making bagels (it’s apparently a regular occurrence), and so I decided that if they could make bagels, then I certainly could do.
Luckily my little hotbed sauna of a kitchen was nicely primed on a Friday evening for some bread-proofing. But it sets the background for the production of the best bagels I’ve ever tasted – so deliciously fluffy and light! The aroma of those freshly baked bagels still haunt me. If you’re not a fan of poppy seeds, you can substitute in sesame seeds or leave them plain 🙂
You will need (Makes 12):
- 1 + 1/2 cups (375ml) warm water;
- 3 teaspoons/1 sachet dried yeast;
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar;
- 4 cups (600g) plain flour (bread/pizza flour is best);
- 2 teaspoons salt;
- 8 cups (2 litres) water, extra;
- 2 teaspoons bicarb soda;
- 1 egg yolk;
- 1 tablespoon milk;
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds.
Combine the warm water, yeast and half of the sugar in a small jug. Set aside for five minutes or until frothy.
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and stir until the mixture just comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a large bowl and cover loosely with cling film. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Combine the extra water and remaining sugar with the bicarb in a large saucepan over high heat; bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium, bring to a simmer.
Brush/spray an oven tray with oil. Divide the dough into 12 even portions. Roll each portion into a ball and push a lightly floured finger through the middle of the ball to create a hole (tee hee). Gently flatten the ball slightly. Place on the oiled tray and set aside for 10 minutes to rise slightly.
Add the bagels to the simmering water, two or three at a time, and cook for one minute. Use a slotted spoon to turn and cook for a further minute. Use the slotted spoon to remove and transfer to the oiled oven tray. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
Whisk the egg yolk and milk together in a small bowl. Brush evenly over each bagel and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. The smell while they are baking is enough to make you deranged – I doubt you would be able to wait until they are fully cool before you tear one open 😉
Serve with whatever you like! But cream cheese and smoked salmon is always a classic – I prefer mascarpone to regular Philly – but that’s just me 😉