Bagels have always been some what of a mystery to me. I absolutely adore eating them but it’s not something you find a lot around London. My first (and only) attempt a few years ago were such an utter failure that they never even crossed my mind again until last week.
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to bagels and I really wanted to get it right. I spent hours reading recipes and watching videos on traditional bagel making methods. The dough needs to be firm and smooth to create a light but tight crumb along with the ability to mould and retain its shape.
What distinguishes bagels from regular bread is the boiling process. It feels almost sacrilege to put fresh proved dough into boiling water but its crucial to achieve that iconic texture. As you boil the dough you release some of the starches in the flour which then gelatinize and form a barrier around the bagel. By cooking the starches beforehand, you won’t lose as much moisture in the oven and have partially set the outside of the bagel resulting in a chewier and denser crumb.
A regular appearance of fresh puffed bagels with a generous schmear of cream cheese is very much welcomed in my kitchen. Since I can’t hop on a plane anytime soon, these will have to transport me to the busy pavements of New York.