Recently I have started baking my own bread, and realised I really enjoy it! I’ve got my kneading technique down and being good at something definitely makes it more fun. I’ve made proper loaves of bread which have worked out nicely but the taste and texture of bagels make them one of my favourite things to eat.
I use basic utensils, such as a ceramic fruit bowl or plastic mixing bowl for proving and a kitchen knife instead of a lame. I did have a look at proving bowls (as they do look quite fancy) but I found that what I’m using does the job perfectly.
Most recently my favourite thing to bake has been bagels. I started off with a basic bagel recipe I found here and then morphed it into cheese and jalapeño bagels similar to the ones here on Honest Cooking.
Making bagels is so simple. I’ve even found that the method at the beginning (where you mix water, yeast and a little sugar then leave it for 10 minutes before adding the remaining water, a little salt and then the dry ingredients) actually works really well for other breads too. As with most bread you need to gauge the amount of flour you use with each batch because even something like humidity can change how much flour you need.
For the regular bagels, I follow the recipe pretty well; sometimes sprinkling sesame seeds over the top after the boiling and before the baking.
For the cheese and jalapeño bagels, once you’ve proved the dough once, knock the air out, mix in the cheese and jalapeño well (I chop up the jalapeños and mix them together with the cheese first) and the form into your bagel shape and prove for a second time (approximately 30 minutes). Also, I used pickled jalapeños as I couldn’t get hold of fresh at the time.
Once they’ve risen boil for a minute each side before baking. The guide is around 20-25 minutes (for the plain bagels) but obviously this will depend on your oven and how big/dense your bagels are. For the cheese and jalapeño bagels bake them for 10 or so minutes, add more cheese on the top and then cook for about 5-10 minutes until the cheese is nicely melted and crispy at the edges.
How you eat them after they’re cooked is entirely up to you. The regular bagels are great toasted with peanut butter, or with melted cheese (can you see a theme here?) The cheese and jalapeño ones are fantastic just warmed up but I have had them with various different dishes, like a delicious homemade sausage casserole or chilli con carne, where I’ve used them for dipping and mopping up. You could totally try different flavour combinations for the bagels; cheese and onion would be good a good one. You could probably even try sweet versions with berries or chocolate mixed through (why not both?!)
For my next baking venture, I really want to try pretzels. I’ve had the small hard pretzels and I’ve had the big doughy ones and I think they would be a good challenge and a great snack. I’ll keep you posted!