My first brush with bagels was in University. Every friday night, before heading out for the night, my Brazilian flatmate and his friend would have the same dinner of beer and bagels. And it never changed. It was almost like a weekly bonding ritual between them. Even the bagels would have the same filling!! It would start of classically with a layer of cream cheese, then a layer of smoked salmon and then, get this.. a layer of the red-packet 'Kettle Chips'!!! Dude food, anyone???
It's been a while since University, but that food memory with bagels has endured. And then Hollywood and American television would imprint the bagel as the classic 'on-the-move' breakfast along with that towering cup of coffee!!! And that's how I've always seen them, as something that is bought and left to the professionals. But, there's always a first time. So, it was time to make bagels for the 'TWD : Baking with Julia' bake-together.
For anyone contemplating this recipe, a 'heads-up' on the fact that the recipe is almost 4 pages long!!! Coming back... bagels are made with the usual suspects - flour, yeast and water. The dough is proofed, shaped into their distinctive round shapes, boiled in hot water and then baked. All sounded pretty straight forward, albeit tedious, when I read it.
Now, I don't know if it was only me, but I found dough extremely wet and sticky to work with. And that made the whole thing a verry messy affair. Apart from that sticky issue, no complaints really with the process!!
The verdict : the bagels looked like how they should, but, as you can see from the photographs, uniformity in size is not one of my strengths. The slightly wrinkly crust had a crunch when you bit into it, before you encountered the soft bread inside. I did wonder though, should the bagels have been plumper and smoother?? Any thoughts on that...
There are tons of fillings to go with your bagels, varying with the time of day. I went with a simple schmear of butter and a cheese slice to go along with my morning cuppa. Have one and it will fill you up for a while...
But, I'll be honest, I'd only recommend this recipe for the enthusiastic baker, to understand the entire process that goes behind making a bagel. Personally, while I enjoyed the bagels, I found the recipe, especially the dough, a bit too tedious to work with. And it is one of those instances where the practicality and convenience of buying bagels from a good bakery wins over making them at home.
However, if you are interested in the recipe, you will find it on Heather's blog. Due to copyright considerations, only the person hosting the recipe for the group 'TWD:Baking with Julia' can post the recipe on their blog. Alternately, you can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will mail you the recipe