Sunday, April 1, 2007


I came to bagels comparatively late in life, in my late teens, the first time I visited the US. And then I went to the US several times in the span of a few years, but now it's been more than five years since the last trip and all that time I've been deprived of bagels. Because they aren't widely available here and I didn't crave them enough to go a-hunting.


Having been burned by my one and only bread book's naan and tortilla recipes, I sort of assumed the bagels would be similarly disappointing - that there are certain kinds of region-specific recipes that you just can't reproduce, even with a native's grandmother's super secret recipe.


And maybe it's just that my memory isn't quite what it was, but these are some fine bagels right here. They look right, except for the part where I can't bother to stretch the rings out far enough to make a proper hole in the finished product. (The hole is my least favorite part of the bagel anyway. It makes filling them a lot fussier than it need be.) I think the egg wash makes them too dark, but that's the only way the seeds and stuff will stay on when you eat it. But mostly, they just taste exactly right, chewy and slightly-sweet-but-not-really.

from Jorden runt på 80 degar by Annica Triberg*

800-900 ml (3.3-3.8 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
15 g (½ oz) fresh yeast
250 ml (1 cup) water, lukewarm
2 + 1 tbsp light syrup
2 tbsp melted butter or vegetable oil
1 egg + 1 white
sesame or poppyseeds for decoration

Mix 800 ml of the flour and the salt in a large bowl.

Dissolve the yeast in the barely warm water, then mix in oil, the whole egg and 2 tbsp of the syrup. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and work together. Once it's all smoothly mixed, let the dough rest for five minutes, then knead (adding more flour as needed) for ten minutes.

Rinse and oil the bowl from earlier, put the dough in and turn it around once so all surfaces are greased, then cover with clingfilm and let rise for an hour and a half.

Tip out onto a work surface and knead a few times, then divide dough into 12 pieces (will make fairly small bagels). Form each piece into a round bun, then press your finger through the middle and stretch out a largeish hole in the middle (will shrink like crazy as the bagels rise, so if you want a proper hole, make it HUGE at this stage). Let rise on a slightly floured surface, covered with a kitchen towel, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/400°F and bring a large pan of water, with the remaining tbsp of syrup and a dash of salt mixed in, to the boil.

Boil the bagels, a few at a time for about a minute, turning them halfway through, then drain and brush with the egg white and sprinkle with topping of choice. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on racks.

These are out of this world fresh from the oven, but I haven't quite figured out how to get them that way for breakfast. The best version so far is putting the boiled but un-garnished bagels in the fridge overnight (certainly this is better than refrigerating the pre-boiled ones, because those have tended to rise too much and then deflate), but the crust dries up and doesn't become as typically chewy and bagel-ish that way. Luckily, they're still very good the morning after, especially if you toast them first.

*highly recommended, despite the naan and tortilla mishaps. Of what I've made, the Estonian rye bread (which is just like Finnish rye bread), hamburger buns, and feta-garlic bread are firm favorites.


Niina said...

You made bagels! Bagel-tasting bagels! And you're right, the hole is completely unnecessary. I will try this when I'm done with the Easter Eating.

deinin said...

Niina, heh! Yes. I remember reading several years ago about "bagels finally landing in Finland" or whatever, and all I can say is WHERE? But these are good. Have fun Eating Easter ;)

Astrid said...

Deinin, your blog continues to impress me. When you first started I thought you'd have trouble maintaining the rhythm of such entertaining prose, high quality photos and excellent recipes, but I shouldn't have doubted!

I have had a lot of fun with bagels myself lately, and learned a few tricks about shaping: first making smooth, tight balls of bread dough (link here) and then bagels (link here). Swinging the bagels around a finger is fun and works well to enlarge the hole.

I agree, having them ready for breakfast is tricky. I've frozen them before boiling, thawed them overnight in the fridge, brought them to room temperature and boiled them in the morning. You still have to get up about an hour before breakfast but the results are good.

deinin said...

Astrid, thank you for both the compliments and the tips! I shall have to implement those the next time I make bagels.

There's always some point during the week when I have no inspiration for anything, or the food turns out to be disappointing, or the pictures don't turn out, and that is when I a) have storebought tortellini for dinner, b) have lots of chocolate for dessert and c) don't blog for a few days. I'm trying both to avoid running out of steam in a few months and to build momentum so this becomes a habit, but we'll see how it works in the future.

laura said...

Hi Deinin,
First, thanks for your blog! I am a newish reader and especially admire your photos. I'd love to try these bagels but am wondering: what is "light syrup"? I'm assuming it's sugar+water. Also the measurement is unclear: "2+1 tbsp"? Sorry if I'm being dense! I'm in the U.S. so maybe our terms are a bit different here.

deinin said...

Laura, light syrup is light molasses, I guess you'd call it golden syrup? My bad, I was thinking in the wrong language. And you use two tbsp for the dough and put the remaining one in the water before boiling the bagels.

Thanks for reading and for pointing out things that are unclear, it's a great help!

mcgibblets said...

the bagels are better when you get the hole filled in anyways because that means there is MORE ROOM FOR SPREAD!!!

deinin said...

mcgibblets, EXACTLY! Holes are nothing but trouble.

Sally said...

I've just stumbled upon your blog and have been reading through all your posts and admiring the gorgeous photos! The bagels look delicious - I actually like the dark brown colour, but I guess normally they are lighter. I think the proportion of egg yolk to white that you use in the egg wash affects the colour... more yolk makes it darker, and the white mainly makes it shiny.
This website has some examples.

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