Every now and then I get a notion to make something I’ve never made before. I think I must have had bagels on my mind after my trip to New York last month, bagels with creamy cheese, smoked salmon, tomatoes and capers for breakfast was a particular treat on my last morning in NYC. However, back in Ireland, you just can’t get really good bagels in many places, which is probably why I was never too bothered by them before. The only ones available in most supermarkets are a bready excuse for a bagel that would make most New Yorkers shudder. However my recent trip to New York wooed me and since then I have had them on the brain.
With the weather being so amazing at the moment (to non-Irish readers, this means actually being able to sunbath and swim in July… a rare occurrence) I decided to make an outdoors brunch for my parents the last time I was home. There is nothing nicer than taking the time to have a nice breakfast, especially when it can be enjoyed outside in the sun. Coffee and Tea, fresh bagels, fruit and the Sunday newspaper al fresco… It’s hard not to relax in such a situation.
I make bread a lot at home, so I figured that bagels couldn’t be much harder to make. They actually were pretty easy to make, and a lot of fun too, the process of boiling them into a spongy ring before baking them was pretty cool. My only advice would be to double the quantities below as they make seven, and they will all be eaten straight away if your family is like mine. It’s worth making a second batch, slicing and freezing them for a quick morning breakfast as if you go to the effort of making these, you should really get more than one morning out of them. These were my favourite bake in months, so I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. I thought blackberry and basil with thick cream cheese would be an unusual but delicious topping, and it really worked out great. If you have any other unusual bagel toppings though, I would love to hear them as I plan on making them again soon!
Ingredients (The standard bagel recipe used is a Rachel Allen recipe):
450g/ 1lb strong white bread flour (used a French T65 flour)
250ml warm water
1 x 7g fast acting yeast sachet
2 level tsp salt
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp treacle or molasses (I didn’t have either so used honey… worked perfectly)
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup poppy seeds
1 tub full-fat cream cheese
2 punnets of blackberries
1 bunch of basil leaves
- Sift together the flour, salt and mix in the yeast in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir the honey and oil into the warm water. Make a well in the flour and pour in the wet mixture and mix together with your hands. When it has come together, pop it out onto a clean floured surface and knead for 10 to 15 minutes. (This dough is tough and stiff, so if you’re used to make your own breads you may worry that the dough is quite tense/tough… but this is totally normal.)
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, toss it around in it to coat lightly in oil, cover with cling film and let to prove for 1 to 3 hours. I only had an hour as I was under time pressure, but it tasted fantastic. However the usual rule is the longer you prove the better it tastes. Also be careful not to oil the bowl and bread too much as it will be very difficult to shape afterwards.
- After proving knock back the bread and portion into 7 equally sized piece. Shape into a ball, stick you finger through the centre creating a ring. Set aside to prove for 20 more minutes.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the 3 tbsp treacle or honey and then let it come down to a simmer. Pop in two or three bagels at a time (depending on size) for 2 minutes and then flip them onto their other sides and boil for two more minutes. Then take them out and let them drain on a wire rack. Continue this step for all your bagels.
- Coat the top of the bagel in egg wash and sprinkle generously with poppy seeds. Place all the bagels onto a well oiled tin, spaced far apart (I used two trays for my 7 bagels). Put into an oven at 220C for 15 minutes, then take them out and flip them over to cook the bases, I egg washed and sprinkled my bases with poppy seeds again, and then pop back into the oven for 10 more minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving.
- Slice in half and smear the bagel with cream cheese, press in some black berries and basil leaves and serve immediately while still warm.