Bread diary no.8 – Bagels

Though not jewish myself I have married into a jewish family and bagels are a regular feature at get-togethers. They take their food pretty seriously so I was a bit nervous at them eating my first ever batch of home cooked bagels. This was, after all, a potentially tough audience!


I’m also a big fan of the bagel shops in brick lane, which I frequently go to and it was their style of slightly sweet bagel that I was hoping to produce.

Looking online there did seem to be 1001 different bagel recipes, many of which didn’t seem to call for any boiling which I thought was odd. If you only bake them are they not just rolls? The other problem I encountered was that most of the online recipes were written by americans and therefore talk of ‘cups’ which I don’t really understand. I settled eventually for just making up my own version based on a few other ideas I’d read about.

1200g (eventually 1300g) strong white flour
840ml of water
2 eggs
75g sugar
22g salt
20g yeast

The flour/water ratio is the one I use for normal bread but I should have realised that the liquid in the eggs would make my dough far too wet. In the end I had to add more flour (at least another 100g) to make it a nice consistency. I recovered it but i’ll be a little more careful next time.

It might have been the relatively cool kitchen or the slightly old dried yeast that I used but the dough didn’t rise as much as i’d have liked. I’m not sure this affected the bagels so much but the accompanying Chollah bread was a little dense.

Making the rings was a bit challenging and I will have a think about how I do this next time as my bagels were certainly not pretty. The boiling went ok but the baking took a lot longer than I thought, mainly I now realise because i’d made the bagels quite big. Next time i’ll make them a tad smaller.

Boiling bread
Boiling bread

On the table and covered in humous or smoked salmon they seemed to go down very well. Not quite up to the standard of the brick lane bagel shop but I will have another go at these sometime and try to improve. Glad I tried it!

Bread diary no. 7 – Olive bread with pancetta

Since the last entry I’ve made some milk bread and a light rye loaf, both using bread tins. I’ve found the tins a bit tricky so far and it is a bit of an adjustment from the normal baking times.

The highlight though has been my first attempt at olive bread. I used another recipe from the ‘dough’ book for olive bread with black olives and pancetta. I pre-cooked the pancetta and finely chopped the olives but only just remembered to add them to the dough.

I made a kilo batch and divided them into 6 medium sized baguettes. The result exceeded my expectations and the bread was delicious. The crust was crusty and the crumb light and springy. In technical terms this might be my best bread so far. How much is down to me or the addition of the olive oil is hard to say?

So far we have had some of the olive bread just with butter but it has been best as a base for mini pizzas.

I’ll definitely be making this one again.