Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Cinnamon and Raisin Bagels

I've always been a bit wary of the idea of making my own bagels.  Admittedly, it had never occurred to me to even try doing so until it came up on last year's series of The Great British Bake Off, but that's where I saw the thing that concerned me: poaching.  I've never poached anything before, not even eggs, so I really wasn't sure if I would be able to do it.  Consequently I put it out of my mind until about a month ago, when I had a sudden craving for bagels.  I didn't have any though and didn't feel like going out to get some.  That's when I started considering trying to make my own.  I've gotten better at baking since starting this blog so I could do with branching out a bit.  So I began looking about online and in books for recipes, for plain ones mind because I'm very boring in my tastes.

Well, as you may have assumed by my lack of previous posts about bagels, I never did get around to making them.  I couldn't really find a good time to do them and then I just ended up ordering some with my weekly shop.  But here we are, a month later, and I have finally made some! 

Since these are cinnamon and raisin, they're clearly not for me.  I made them for the fiancĂ© as he enjoys having them for breakfast but I hadn't gotten any in the shopping (despite asking him if he wanted anything thee times) and the local shop didn't have them.  Well, seemed a good enough excuse to give making them a go at last so I did.

I decided to work off a plain recipe, opting for a Nigella one I had already bookmarked back when I was originally looking for recipes.  I then modified it by adding the cinnamon and raisins, picking my own amounts based on what looked and smelt right, as well as switching the caster sugar with dark brown sugar.  I messed about with the amounts of ingredients slightly too, since I only wanted to make 5, not 15, and the numbers didn't divide easily by 3.  Plus I don't have a measuring spoon that'll do 1/3 tbsp.  All worked fine though.  Clearly I'm getting better at making stuff up.

Turns out it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be.  Poaching was easy.  The hardest bit was kneading the dough due to it being a very dry dough and thus very hard to work.  My arms were so tired afterwards.  I also ended up decimating most of the raisins in the process but never mind, they're still noticeable in terms of both sight and taste.  My only other issue was that I couldn't get my oven quite hot enough and so had to keep them in longer.  As a result I ended up burning the bases but some very vigorous scraping with a bread knife got rid of that.

The fiancĂ© thought they were a lovely surprise to come home to (I didn't tell him I was planning to make them) and promptly cut one up and toasted it.  He said they are really yummy cinnamon bagels and just as good as the store bought ones.  I was pleased that the inside looked right, with a close crumb.  So hooray for me!  I shall be making them again in the future and maybe I'll even get around to trying to make plain ones.

Recipe - inspired by How To Be A Domestic Goddess
Makes 5
  • 330g/11.5oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 7g/0.25oz easy bake yeast
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 170ml/6fl.oz warm water
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 70g/2.5oz raisins 
  • 2 tbsp sugar for poaching
  1. Put the flour, salt, yeast and ground cinnamon into a bowl and mix together.
  2. Combine the sunflower oil, water and brown sugar together in a jug or bowl and mix.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet.  Mix slightly.
  4. Add the raisins and start to bring together with your hands until you get a stiff dough.  The dough is very dry and that's the way you want it.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead it, adding more flour to it as you go.  It's a very tough dough to work and you'll likely pulverise the raisins in the process of kneading.  Do not add more water.  You're aiming for a smooth, elastic dough so expect to be kneading for at least 25 minutes.
  6. Coat the inside of a bowl with oil.  Shape the dough into a ball and place in the oiled bowl, rotating a couple of times to coat it.  Cover the bowl with clingfilm and then leave dough to rise for at least an hour.
  7. When the dough has risen, knock it back (give it a good punch) and knead it again for about 5 minutes.
  8. Break the dough into five equal sized pieces and each piece into a rope about 25cm/10inches long.
  9. Curl each rope around to form a ring, overlapping the ends and pinching them together to seal them.
  10. Place the rings on an oiled baking tray and cover with a clean tea towel.  Leave them to rise for about 30 minutes, until they are nice and puffy.
  11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F/Gas Mark 9.  About 10 minutes before the end of the rising time, put a large pot of water on to boil.
  12. When the bagels are puffy and the water has boiled it is time to poach them.  Add the 2 tbsp sugar to the boiling water.
  13. Put a bagel into the water and poach for 1 minutes, turning it over with a spatula after 30 seconds so both sides poach evenly.  Remove with a slotted spoon so that the water drains off and return to the oiled baking tray.
  14. Repeat with remaining four bagels.
  15. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until they are shiny on top.
  16. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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