People often joke that I'm like a mother to my flatmates. I suppose I am a bit of a mother figure when it comes to to food - I do most of the cooking. I get distressed if somebody skips a meal and try to make sure we eat a healthy diet (balanced with plenty of baked goods, of course).
This morning, just I was about to start making bagels, one of my flatmates came home from an early lecture feeling ill. After a quick chat she went for a nap. Her door was propped open and a breeze was flowing into the corridor. Every time I popped back to my own room from the kitchen I tiptoed past, checking she was still curled up under the covers, sleeping sweetly. I felt a bit like a mother then, with the flat smelling of yeast, making bagels while she slept.
Perhaps the family theme comes from the source of this recipe, 17 and Baking. The post is about Elissa making them with her Dad, and has a wonderful series of photos of his hands as he works the bagels.
I realise being a parent isn't all yeast and sleeping, but it was a lovely moment.
The process of making bagels is pretty wonderful. I've written before about how much I love kneading, but the firm bagel dough was a joy to deal with. I found them fairly hard to shape into smooth balls - it kept on creasing - but it was fun nonetheless. Boiling the bagels was a novel experience, especially as I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking for. From Elissa's recipe I thought they should sink then rise, but mine resolutely floated.
While this blog is generally limited to the sweet side of things, I decided that bagels count. After all, we're just as likely to smear them with nutella as cream cheese in this flat.
As I wrote the last sentence a few hours ago, I realised that you could make sweet cream cheese version (cheesecake anyone?). So I mixed some cream cheese up with a little double cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract. Then I topped it with passionfruit and raspberries.
The sweet version was lovely. About half way through eating it I realised that a drizzle of honey on top would complete the picture - it did. I reckon greek yogurt, fruit and honey on a bagel would be fantastic.
I halved Elissa's recipe to make four bagels rather than eight, as they don't keep particularly well. I have put the half version below - just double it if you want more.
(Recipe from 17 and Baking)
1 tsp quick yeast
3/4 tbsp sugar
150 ml warm water
250g strong bread flour, plus extra for kneading
1/2 tsp salt
As I used mix-in quick yeast, I simply combined all the ingredients in a bowl. If you are using normal dry yeast, sprinkle the yeast and sugar into half the water and leave for five minutes before stirring and then adding to the rest. Pull all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon into a firm dough.
Tip out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and springy - about 10 minutes. Start to work in extra flour, adding as much as you can while still retaining a firm and smooth dough. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a slightly damp tea towel and let rise for about an hour or until doubled in size. Punch down and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Shape the pieces into a ball using your hands and rolling it along a surface, pressing down to get rid of air bubbles. Use a floured finger to make a hole in the middle of the ball, then use your fingers to widen it out to about 1/3 of the diameter of the whole bagel. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet to rest for ten minutes under a damp tea towel.
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F. Fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil. Turn down to keep it at a strong simmer. Use a slatted spoon or similar to lower 1-2 bagels into the water. Boil for about a minute, turning halfway through. Remove, draining any excess water, to the baking sheet. When you have boiled them all, put them into the oven for about 20 minutes. They should be gorgeously golden. Cool on a wire rack.