Back in primary school I remember for one of our school excursions we visited a bagel factory. I wasn’t sure what educational purpose there was in visiting the bagel factory in the first place, but each of us left with a bag of assorted bagels and my vague memory of the day has always told me that the bagels were ridiculously chewy to my child-like jaws that were only accustomed to the softness of Wonder White bread sandwiches.
I have never had much interest in them since, until I was chatting with my girlfriend’s housemates and discovered that bagel-making was a regular every-other-weekend ritual for them. Needing a new project to sink my teeth (or hands) into, I have had a limited play around with yeast and so tried making Poppyseed Bagels which turned out amazingly well for the first time. I tend not to eat a lot of bread and so keeping bagel halves wrapped tightly in cling film in the freezer ready for the grill is perfect for a quick weekend breakfast.
Night Owl has been enjoying the bagels too, smothered in mascarpone (so much better than regular cream cheese) and topped with smoked salmon, and commented that when she was studying at university she basically lived on a diet of double-shot lattes and blueberry bagels toasted before being smothered in cream cheese.
I decided to give them a go myself. The second batch I made turned out a bit better in shape and texture, but I couldn’t seem to match the purplish hue obtained by the bagels sold in bakeries and cafes; I did some scouting online and turns out they use dye colour – which is completely cheating by the way…
Anyway – these are much fresher and fluffier than any of the blueberry bagels you will ever buy. Try and put down a pastry-rolling mat if you can before rolling out the dough onto your countertop, as the blueberries do have a tendency to stain.
To make 8 bagels, you will need:
- 3/4 cup (185ml) warm water;
- 100g frozen blueberries, thawed;
- 2 teaspoons (1 sachet) dried yeast;
- 1/3 cup (70g) caster sugar;
- 2 + 1/2 cups (375g) plain (bread) flour;
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon;
- 1/2 teaspoon salt;
- 8 cups (2L) water, extra;
- 1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda;
- 1 egg yolk;
- 1 tablespoon milk;
- 1/4 cup (60g) white sugar;
- Cream cheese/mascarpone, to serve.
- Figs or berries, to serve.
Combine the water, blueberries, yeast and two tablespoons of caster sugar in a jug. Set aside for 5 minutes or until frothy.
Combine the flour, cinnamon 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 loosely cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or until the dough rises by at least half.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Combine the extra water, bicarbonate of soda, and remaining caster sugar in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and bring to a simmer.
Brush two oven trays with oil. Divide the dough into eight even portions. Roll each portion into a ball, and push a lightly floured finger through the middle of the ball (lol) to create a hole. Flatten slightly, then place on an oiled tray and set aside for 10 minutes to rise slightly. Repeat with the other dough portions.
Add four of the bagels to the simmering water and cook for three minutes. Use a slotted spoon to turn and cook for a further three minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove and return to the oiled tray. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
Whisk the egg yolk and milk together in a bowl. Brush evenly over each bagel, and then sprinkle with sugar. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Serve toasted with cream cheese and berries or figs, if desired.
If you don’t eat them all at once, they keep best in the freezer – just remember to slice them in half before wrapping them in cling film!