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Sexy bagels

February 28, 2012

Bagels with scrambled eggWriting about the things you cook often leads to a mini-voyage of discovery.  This time it was it was to enter the world of the bagel and, if like me, you just thought it was a bun with a hole in it, I may have some surprises in store.  Peter Reinhart‘s book says that it originated in Poland and was made in the shape of a stirrup to commemorate the victory of Poland’s King Jan III Sobieski over the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Vienna in 1683, but apparently this isn’t true; it was first made long before this and was given to women in childbirth and may have been a sexual symbol. Oo-er.  One thing is for sure, they are a  jolly handy shape for threading on a rope or a piece of wood so you can hawk them round the streets.  Wikipedia is ridicuously thorough on the topic if you want to know more.  However, if you have bought bagels from the supermarket and are (again like me) wondering frankly what the fuss is all about, you might like to read Oliver Thring’s excellent account about the deterioration of the proper thing.


Fresh From the Oven, the monthly baking challenge I’ve been part of for a couple of years, has changed the way it works.  Instead of logging onto a secret site for the recipe, keeping mum about it all month and then announcing in a big reveal, now it’s all out in the open and you can write about the theme any time during the subsequent month.  So I followed the recipe for bagels provided by Purely Food  (althought I dissolved my dried yeast in the liquid before use) and also added these steps recommended by Claire at Things We Make (whose bagels are a thing of extraordinary beauty), i.e.

  • I added 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of bicarb of soda to the poaching water
  • I baked half of them on baking parchment sprinkled with polenta, which worked a treat
  • I let them prove longer in their shaped state as this helps fill out the shape
  • Made the holes 3 times bigger than they should be as they close up…lots
Making bagels

The neat bagel (unswirled) is at the front

There are two methods to make the hole in the middle, either by rolling the dough into a sausage shape and sealing the ends togther or by rolling into a ball, piercing and swinging it around on your fingers.  I tried both methods – the former is much neater than the latter but far less fun.  I sprinkled a few with sesame seeds and a few with sea salt – and made 8 (because I wasn’t up to dividing the dough evenly into an odd number).

Ever since an unmitigated disaster of a loaf sticking fast to a baking tray, I generally always use baking parchment.  A good sprinkle of polenta over one tray was fine (a la Claire) but the bagels took a bit of shifting from the greased version.  When I turned the little devils over they went face down onto paper.

Making the hole in bagels

Making the hole in a bagel with the 'swirling' method

Hungry teens waited impatiently for these golden rings to emerge from the oven and I watched them disappear rapidly, warm from the oven with butter.  I had mine for breakfast with scrambled eggs.

Bagels with scrambled egg

Anyone know why mine aren’t very rounded on top? What could have caused the flat-top? Never mind, they tasted fine.

I’ll be making them again.

The new regime over at Fresh From the Oven is explained here and the bagel round up will appear on Purely Food at the end of February (along with the challenge for March).  P.S. I hate to think what the title of the this post will do to my spam intake!

What’s your favourite thing to eat with bagels?

  1. February 28, 2012 7:04 am

    This post brings back memories of Saturday mornings in New York. I’d walk down to the Jewish Ess-a-Bagel shop right opposite my apartment building, and grab a perfectly made bagel with cream cheese. They had the best cream cheese flavours – salmon, apple cinnamon, walnut…and the best coffee to pair your bagel with. I think you’re pretty daring to attempt this at home, and congratulations on them turning out as a taste success (even if they didn’t puff up on top…whatever, there’s always a next time.)

    Need to find me a good bagel shop in Dubai..I’ve heard of a few, but haven’t checked them out for fear of disappointment. This post makes me think I need to step on it and do some bagel hunting 😉

    • February 28, 2012 4:11 pm

      I like Circle cafe – but I don’t think anyone makes them in an authentic way (not that I’ve ever tried one in New York).

  2. February 28, 2012 7:09 am

    Your bagels look delicious Sally – much more appetising than the supermarket versions!
    Fun to make too….:)

    • February 28, 2012 4:10 pm

      They were really fun to make Tara.

  3. February 28, 2012 7:28 am

    I love how brown your bagels are, they look so delicious 🙂
    I like the gif, also 🙂

    • February 28, 2012 4:10 pm

      Thanks – I was pressing the camera with one hand so the images are very wonky – but I thought it added realism (especially with my messy kitchen in the background!)

  4. faiza abbasi permalink
    February 28, 2012 7:52 am

    One of the (many) foods we missed after moving here was bagels. My hubbie ate them with smoked salmon, tomatoe and corriander, my kids with melted cheddar cheese. I love them with scrambled eggs as well, even better if there’s a crspy piece of bacon on top. I too have loads of memories associated with the Saturday morning run to the deli for fresh bagels and assorted cream cheeses. Thanks for taking me down memory lane Sally. Your bagels looks so delish, where did you say you lived?

    • February 28, 2012 4:09 pm

      Ha ha – Umm Suqeim! Now you’ve got me thinking about bacon too.

  5. February 28, 2012 8:14 am

    Mmmm… Bagels warm from the oven sound so good! I love a good jalapeño bagel, toasted, buttered and stuffed with scrambled eggs and cheese. Hard to beat.

    • February 28, 2012 4:08 pm

      That’s the great thing about blogging – you learn so much. A jalapeno bagel? Sounds fantastic!

  6. February 28, 2012 9:41 am

    My favourite thing to eat with bagels is cream cheese. no beating that combination. But first the bagel has to be toasted well.
    Love your write up about the history of bagels. Do not know what stops me from referring to my Peter Reinhart book when I do recipes from FFTO.I am so lazy!

    These really look sexy. I used the swirling method and they did come up rounded for me but the shape’s not all that perfect.

    I am in love with the batch that I made. 🙂

    • February 28, 2012 4:08 pm

      Hopping over to look at yours now Anita.

  7. February 28, 2012 9:59 am

    Does look very sexy…but I feel terrible because I don’t think I’ve really ever had a bagel! I feel, especially now, that I am missing out. Anywhere in Dubai you think I’ll get a good one?

    • February 28, 2012 4:07 pm

      I can count the number of bagels I’ve had in my life on one hand. I like the ones at Circle cafe (opp Jumeirah beach park) but I don’t think anyone boils them first to give the correct texture.

  8. February 28, 2012 11:20 am

    Oh, those look divine! Bagels are so scrumptious and versatile.



    • February 28, 2012 4:05 pm

      Thanks Rosa – your comments are always appreciated.

  9. February 28, 2012 11:30 am

    lovely post Sally. I for one have never given bagels a chance, always rejecting them as too American. It could be to do with the fact that the first bagel i ever had was a chewy, hard one from a new york subway shop…yours look yummy!

    • February 28, 2012 4:04 pm

      These are quite chewy – but definitely much more interesting to eat than I’ve gave them credit for.

  10. February 28, 2012 11:56 am

    I’ll definitely make these no matter I didn’t manage for the challenge. Here we call bagels геврек (gevrek) and eat them plain, with nothing added, but I think that ours are denser and chewy, a challenge for the teeth. Or at least these are the memories from my childhood, I haven’t had a gevrek since then.
    It’s nice to have teenagers in the house, they devour everything you bake so quickly. Can I borrow them this weekend since I’m planing a 2 days baking and need eaters 🙂

    • February 28, 2012 4:03 pm

      Just putting them on a plane now Silvia (how are your taxi-driving skills?!)

  11. February 28, 2012 12:27 pm

    your look amazing! I also had mine with scrambled eggs, it seemed like the most obvious choice 🙂

    • February 28, 2012 4:03 pm

      Couldn’t agree more Tandy.

  12. February 28, 2012 12:33 pm

    that’s exactly what i have thought about bagels so far – a bun with a hole! I really should try making them at home.

    • February 28, 2012 4:02 pm

      You should. They are not at all like the shop-bought ones.

  13. Alyssa permalink
    February 28, 2012 12:59 pm

    Great looking bagels. I make soft pretzels in a similar manner, cooking them in baking soda water for a moment before baking. I bet these have the same great crunch on the outside and a soft, fluffy inside.

    • February 28, 2012 4:02 pm

      They are actually quite chewy on the outside and soft in the middle. I also made pretzels – very satisfying. Thanks for dropping by.

  14. Maureen permalink
    February 28, 2012 1:15 pm

    I keep telling myself that I should try making bagels and I haven’t done it yet. Your bagel breakfast inspires me!

    • February 28, 2012 4:01 pm

      Take the plunge – would love to hear how you get on.

  15. February 28, 2012 1:25 pm

    Sally your bagels look absolutely wonderful! I’m so pleased you’ve introduced me to Things We Make blog too – it’s gorgeous. Love how this challenge brings people together and opens new doors 🙂

    • February 28, 2012 4:00 pm

      You are so right – it does indeed. Thing We Make is fabulous.

  16. February 28, 2012 1:57 pm

    Sally, they look so good, I can smell them all the way in Dubai Internet City! I’m at work and now craving for a fresh bagel. And your scrambled eggs look perfect!

    I like my bagel with cream cheese.

    • February 28, 2012 4:00 pm

      This seems to be the recurring theme. My problem is that cream cheese here in Dubai is so disappointing. I’d love some artisan-made stuff to slather on these.

  17. February 28, 2012 2:55 pm

    Thank you for taking part sally. Great post as always and your bagels look great.

    • February 28, 2012 3:59 pm

      It was great fun as always. I enjoy Fresh From the Oven and I’m a much more confident baker because of it.

  18. February 28, 2012 3:44 pm

    I need to make some bagels. I have always wanted to give them a try but was actually a tad intimidated. Yours look fantastic!
    I love that gif with the swirling method. Looks kind of fun 🙂

    • February 28, 2012 3:58 pm

      You know they were not the most difficult thing at all – pretty easy when you just accept you are boiling them, then baking them (and then people seem to toast them…so thrice cooked!). I had made pretzels so the boiling bit was simple. Would like to get them a bit rounder next time.

  19. February 28, 2012 4:39 pm

    Very sexy indeed! What a shame the Polish origin story isn’t true! They look really amazing and there is no better thing than a fresh bagel! Thanks for sharing how you made them. Love the little moving photo. I’m sure there is a more technical name for it!

  20. Farwin permalink
    February 28, 2012 5:52 pm

    I’ve never had bagels before and curious to try.Your’s looks so good,Sally.I might bake some bagels one of these day.

  21. February 28, 2012 8:17 pm

    Tasty looking bagels, Sally. Love the animated swirly pic!

    Some batches that I make come out flatter on top too, not sure why, I think it must be the yeast struggling to puff up the heavier dough. I will bake all of mine on parchment next time. It’s nearly a month since I made them…I think it may be bagel time again!

  22. February 28, 2012 11:03 pm

    These look wonderful – I stepped into the bagel baking world last weekend and yet to blog about it yet. They sure do taste better than the hard bullets that you buy in the supermarket. And so easy (aside from the twirling to make the hole!)

  23. February 29, 2012 11:09 pm

    Hi Sally,

    Loved your bagel post! Yours with scrambled eggs looks yummy and my sympathies that you can’t regularly enjoy the sublime pleasures of one slathered with creamy Philadelphia Cream cheese…other cream cheeses are of course available…

    • March 1, 2012 7:33 am

      It’s Philadelphia that I’m not very keen on actually – have you seen the ingredient list?!

  24. February 29, 2012 11:53 pm

    Your bagels look great! Lovely idea to fill them with scrambled eggs. I think I need to prove mine a little longer next time.

    • March 1, 2012 7:26 am

      Thanks – the proving time is quite hard to gauge sometimes isn’t it?

  25. March 1, 2012 12:55 pm

    Actually mine wasn’t very round on the top too!! I think it might be because I didn’t proof them long enough for the second time. My impatience got the better of me! Oh wells! My favourite is…. probably smoked salmon + cream cheese 😀

    • March 8, 2012 12:38 pm

      Oh yes me too – I didn’t have any smoked salmon sadly.

  26. March 2, 2012 4:07 am

    Great job, Sally. I’m also impressed with moving photo of the swirl.

  27. March 4, 2012 1:42 am

    Oo er, sexy bagels!?! They certainly look rather fetching. And I like the idea of filling them with scrambled egg. I must try that.

  28. March 11, 2012 10:51 pm

    I LOVE bagels and these look wonderful. I love salmon and scrambled eggs in mine….Did you go through the whole ‘retard’ thing where you put the proving bagels in water and you know they are ready when they float?

  29. March 26, 2012 5:32 pm

    Wow, great!! I ma definitely going to try baking some!!


  1. Fresh from the oven February round up | Purely food

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