I remember the first time we ate a bagel from Picnic Artisan Bakery in Alderney Landing Farmers’ Market. It was so delicious we made a beeline for her stall every Saturday morning.
And, you had to be there before 10am or you would be left with slim pickings. Jessica Best, breadmaster extraordinaire, has since joined forces with newly opened The Canteen – a shop selling homemade sandwiches, salads and soup in Dartmouth, and sadly is no longer at the farmers’ market. That said, we’re hoping, once the ladies from The Canteen suss out what their customers want, we’ll begin to see bagels sold on their own and not just as a sandwich (hint, hint!).
While I was happy for Jessica to team up with Renée (their food is scrumptious, by the way), I did miss the Saturday morning ritual and quest for bagels. That void in the market ritual led me on a quest to make my own bagels. I had no idea the process nor if they would ever come close to tasting as good as Jessica’s. After 3 bagel-making attempts (all turned out ok) I think I found a recipe that pleases me meaning it’s straightforward with not too many steps to reach the end product. It is by no stretch of the imagination as chewy-delicious as Jessica’s, but it’s fair to say pretty darn good…supportive words from hubby and daughter.
Makes 8 to 10
adapted from BBC Good Food
500g bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (7g packet) fast-action dried yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
Mix the yeast with 1 1/4 cups (300ml) lukewarm water. Put the flour, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and mix together. Pour the yeast liquid over flour and mix into a rough dough. Remove dough from bowl and place onto a counter top. Knead until smooth and elastic about 10 minutes.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap. Store in a warm area (I put mine in a sunny spot or in the oven with the light on, oven off) and leave until doubled in size (about 1 hour). Uncover and place dough onto a counter top. You may need to use a light dusting of flour if dough is too tacky.
Divide the dough into 10 pieces and form into balls. Leave spaces between on parchment-lined baking trays and cover lightly with a tea towel. Leave 20 to 30 minutes or until risen. Remove the tea towel.
Preheat oven to 350f (180c). Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add baking soda to the water (this helps create the shine and chewiness of the bagel). Dip your finger in flour and make a hole in the center of each bagel, turning it around to stretch the dough a little, but being careful not to knock out too much air. Place 2 to 3 bagels in the water at a time and boil for 2 minutes, 1 minute each side. I read that if the bagel doesn’t float, it won’t be a good bagel. Use a slotted spoon to lift the bagels out, drain well and place back on a greased baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before eating.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: How do you know when to stop kneading the dough? Kneading helps strengthen the gluten in flour giving bread its structure and texture. You’ll know your kneading has done the trick when the dough is smooth and slightly tacky to the touch. Give the ball of dough a poke and if it fills in the hole quickly, it’s ready for proofing – letting the dough rise. If you want to add your favorite toppings, brush the bagels with an egg white and sprinkle with seeds before baking. In the photo I used St. Mary’s River Smokehouse Atlantic salmon strips-our favorite Nova Scotia smokehouse. Enjoy!