Thank you to the Green Trianglers

A small corner of Sheffield, a really lovely community set about doing a variety of things together.

This could be music nights, games nights, fund raising breakfasts or participation in a madcap auction of bagels!

A few weeks ago a bag of bagels was auctioned on ebay for the Cathedral Archer Project and some people also kindly gave some donations

Here are links to the receipts from paypal (who somehow auto-magically transfer the money) and from the Archer project for the donations which were sent on to them.

Thank you.

New bakery, new varieties, new outlets

This year has been a bit of a whirlwind.

At the end of last year I moved (again) to something that will be the Tower of Bagel home for the next 18 months. Based in Attercliffe, and part of a sparkling little community of business – sewing , ice cream making, fashion photography and pottery –  in a CADS-managed building.

Too much butter?

Having got 5 on my inspection (hooray!) i could steam full ahead and celebrated by breaking out into cinnamon and raisin.

I have often been asked about this variety and it has been some time coming together.

This followed a trial into gluten free bagels. I had struggled for a year to get this right with the first efforts going in the bin before they got to the oven!

With the new varieties have come new customers – New Roots on Glossop Road take a Friday delivery and every day you can get a filled bagel at the Showroom Cinema Cafe


Breathing life into Youlgrave

But times are altered; trade’s unfeeling train
Usurp the land and dispossess the swain;
Along the lawn, where scattered hamlet’s rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose

From The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith

Goldsmith was writing after the enclosures, when landowners set about dispossessing rural communities of their livelihood,  setting in train a chain of events that has impoverished so much of rural England since.

Many villages around England and all over Europe, steeped in history and tradition, private family myths and public claims to fame, have suffered the same slow blight. Population drift to cities – caused by the sort of actions by landowners that Goldsmith is referring to – a lack of young people and a consequent lack of investment;  a cycle hard to be broken.

But Youlgrave has fought back and  is far from deserted. 

Not long ago, Youlgreave Village Shop was a butchers and in need of  serious repair. Now, it is a lively trading post in the heart of this beautiful White Peak village. Youlgreave itself has a number of businesses and a thriving village hall, which i know from Klezmer Weekends.

While, The Action with Communities in Rural England put a lot of emphasis on Village Halls and have done some great work with Village Hall Networks, a shop can act as a second hall – for meetings – there is a mum and baby group – chat and networking.

When meeting Lisa to discuss how we can work together to make our businesses more successful, it was with awe at her bravery but maybe a bit of a raised eyebrow at the amount of work and financial investment the new look shop represents. How much air has she in her lungs to resuscitate the shop? Well, it turns out she has loads!

She told me how they bought the shop in October 2016 and its tumbledown state, the work commenced on December 5th last year and they opened in June 2017. A tight timescale by any standards. And they now have a space that teams with wonderful local quality products on the shelves (a really god flour range from Caldwells Mill, by the way, for you bakers out there) , a welcome cafe for walkers and cyclists and locals, and , as Lisa points out, a place for sustaining community. And of course, let’s not forget, they also have bagels.

So, Sheffield and Chesterfield cyclists and walkers, make sure you stop by if you are having a day out in the White Peak.

Autumn chili keeps us warmer

Autumn is coming and this is an easy cheap and nutritious warming dish that can last for a few meals. With a couple of mini bagels and some cream cheese or vegan yoghurt it is perfect autumn filler.
Just a quick word about lentils: yellow brown green red and there is even puy. All have their proponents and detractors.
I like using red or yellow lentils when i need something where the the lentil has broken up. Yellow lentils seem more substantial and can make a more filling daal.
Brown lentils and green seem to have a more robust structure so do not disintegrate so easily. Puy lentils are famously flavourful keep their shape but are expensive. I have used brown lentils for this – their size and colour keeping the red kidney bean good company. If you cannot get brown lentils, don’t worry, use green lentils.
This makes enough for about 20 and is better after a day. If you don’t need it all, place in the freezer or take round to the Food Hall project or something similar where you happen to be.
4 cans kidney beans drained
500g brown lentils soaked in water overnight
4 can chopped tomatos
2 medium size onions
2 carrots
2 courgettes
3 teaspoons garlic paste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder or to your taste
Salt to your taste
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon of malt extract or black treacle (optional)
Place the brown lentils in water to just cover them and bring to boil.
Turn down heat to a simmer. Add water every so often to recover the lentils and ensure it does not boil off. You want them to be just soft and not to disintegrate. About 30-45 mins .
When the lentils are done, drain the excess water into a bowl and save it. There won’t be much but it is flavourful. When drained add a bit of vegan bouillon to this water and stir.
Chop the onions and carrot and courgette. Make the pieces quite small if you can.
Heat oil in a large pan. When the oil starts to ‘swim’ add the onions and turn heat to low
After about a minute add garlic paste and other spices and seasoning
Stir regularly while onions soften (about 15 minutes)
Add the chopped carrots to the heated pan and stir then cover
After 5 minutes add the courgettes. Stir and cover and leave for 5 minutes more.
You have probably cooked and drained the lentils by now. If not give them a check and when they are ready , drain them. Don’t forget to keep the water.
Add the drained kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste  and lentils.
Stir and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat as soon as it boils and add the lentil water. Finally, if you have it around, add the tablespoon of malt extract or black treacle to give a hint of sweetness
Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Dish out with mini bagels and a dollop of cream cheese.
Or leave to cool then place in a fridge for a day before eating.
Music while you cook
If you need to bounce up and down while cooking try some great women of punk. Here is the brilliant X-Ray  and then why not try the equally wonderful Siouxie and the Banshees

Another plain bagel recipe

Last year i published a plain bagel recipe.

Since then i have started using diastatic malt powder rather than malt syrup in the mix – actually because it is  easier.

And i do a second prooving in a retarder for between 14 and 18 hours.

This is not a traditional thing but it does develop the flavour and the gluten, in my view and is a legitimate development of the basic bagel recipe. (Use of steam ovens is not however)

So here is another bagel recipe.



518g high gluten organic flour 

6g salt 

25g sugar 

5g instant yeast  

260g water at room temperature (50g boiled and hot, 210g cold)

Up to 50g of ‘room temp reserve water’

17g malt syrup (optional)

Flavoured varieties

If you want to add flavour – onion for example – use about 5% of the flour weight of dried ingredient. Be careful if using ground black pepper where 1.5 to 2 % is probably ok!


Boil some water and measure out  50g (50ml) into a container. Add the malt syrup to the boiled water. When stired in, add this to the rest of the cold water (210g). (This helps with mixing the syrup which can be a real pain to get off the spoon). Set the container aside

Mix the dry ingredients well and then add the prepared water and stir in with wooden spoon.  

Now use hands to combine the water and the dry mix. More of the dry ingredients will bind than you think. It is a dry mix but do not make it too dry.   

Add reserve water a few drips at a time . How much you need depends on the heat and humidity of the room and the properties of the flour.  

Home made prooving cupboard: a broken fridge, a ceramic heater and a thermostat

Kneed well (about 10mins by hand) You want to really develop the gluten.  When the dough holds together and springs back when pushed in with a finger it is ready

Place in a covered container; set aside to prove for an hour in a warm space.  I use a home made prooving cupboard set at 76 degrees F. 

Measure the dough into equal amounts. 125g is about right but you can do a bit more or a bit less.  Now shape your bagels :  roll the ready measured amounts into sausages about 21cm long, then wrap around  the four fingers of your hand with join on the palm side. Roll the joint so the ends stick together.

Place each one on a tray lined with baking parchment and sprinkled with semolina (this stops the shaped bagel sticking) 

Now cover and set aside to proove once again. Now place in fridge for up to 18 hours.

 Prepare a large pan of water and add some malt extract (about a tablespoon per 4 litres). Bring to the boil and drop the bagels into the pan for about 45 seconds. They should float straight away. 

Place on a baking tray and insert in a hot oven (450 degrees F) for about 15 minutes or until well baked.  Leave to cool on a rack and then halve and schmear liberally (!) with favourite spread. 

From plain bagel to breakfast

Breakfast brings with it the hopes of the day;  this easy-to-make plate will start the day with a sprinkle of joy.

Crack an egg in a wide flat bowl and whisk up with some salt and pepper and a teaspoon of basil pesto (or substitute for this any favourite flavoring – harissa paste or just some soya sauce).

Halve a plain or seeded plain bagel and place cut side own in the egg and leave to soak for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a pan with some sunflower oil and when the oil begins to spread, add the bagel cut side down.  Turn the heat down so the bagel cooks gently. Now add the remainder of the egg in the bowl can be added to the pan too.

Press down on the bagel with a spatula as it cooks, so that it get well cooked inside. Turn over a few times until you feel it is ready.

Have on its own or serve with some heated tomatos, rocket and parmesan shavings


Let a thousand bagel varieties bloom

The other day someone asked me what bagels varieties i made. I went through them but slowly as i knew i would probably forget one or two if i tried to go fast.

Not quick enough for my interlocutor who tried to remind me ‘poppy seed, sesame seed, plain…’ she insisted. But, i explained, only one of these is true: plain. The Tower of Bagel seeded plain has a mix of flax poppy and sesame seed.

Nasturtium bagel and baba ganoush and tomato with black pepper

‘Do you do rye’, she asked. ‘I like rye’ she said ‘with caraway’.

Well i have done but it is not a staple. Just as i have done a rainbow bagel.

What about a marbled bagel. Nope.

What about a sourdough bagel. Nope.

Wild garlic bagels from the Spring

What about a gluten free bagel. Not yet.

The possibilities are endless, which is one of things i really like.

And most especially I  like also doing seasonal varieties like wild garlic in the spring (see to the right)  and nasturtium (pictured above) in the summer.

The key thing whatever the variety, is that the bagels are boiled in a kettle, and the end product is a chewy bite, close texture.


Summer soup and buttered olive bagel

Well, summer soup could be lots of things so we should be more specific: lettuce. It is in abundance around now (late June early July); the sweet young leaves have been around for about 6 or seven weeks and now perhpas we just cannot keep up with eating them all.

So, make some soup and have it with an olive bagel or put it in the freezer for another day.

There is a theory that goes something like this: lettuce soup is tasteless and thin. But this applies to certain situations only and these are known as ‘badly made soup situations’ – the recipe below is outside of the tasteless zone, falling well within the really tasty.

  • Take about 450 grams of lettuce leaf – this can be a single variety or many. No need to be exact about the weight.
  • Wash and prepare and pout to one side.
  • Peal crush and chop five cloves of garlic
  • Fine chop a medium sized onion
  • Add a good glug of olive oil (you can use other oil too) to a soup pan (heavy based if you have one so that you can slow cook with ease)
  • When the oil is warmed add the garlic and turn the heat down. Leave for 5 minutes stiring occasionally
  • Add the onion; add a good pinch of black pepper and some salt (a teaspoon maybe)
  • Leave to slow cook for 10 minutes
  • Add a fine chopped potato or two (depending on how big they are and how thick you would like the soup
  • Leave to slow cook and cover, stir occassionally to prevent sticking to the bottom and dont be shy about adding a bit more oil if you feel you need to
  • Add the lettuce and a litre of vegetable stock (I used vegan bouillon powder but any stock will do fine)
  • Gently turn up the heat and cover for about 5 minutes
  • Leave to cool and then put in a blender

You can serve hot or cold

Try it with a spoon of with cream cheese, some chopped sorrel or a sprinkle of gamazio and an olive bagel from The Tower of Bagel on the side

Sheffield Organic Growers Day menu

Great to be doing the lunch for these guys.

You will be wanting to know what’s on the menu board tomorrow:

Carrot and corriander soup with a bagel if you like and a dollop of cream cheese if you like.

Filled bagels: some cream cheese with olives or just cream cheese; I have not forgotten you vegans – some baba ganoush and olive tapinade and also some houmus. I will be bringing beetroot and cumin, sun dried tomato , olive as well as  plain bagels

Some lovely salads from the Sheffield Organic Growers:

french bean and roasted squash, Courgette and red cabbage, and a mixed green salad, with some peppery and crisp nasturtium leaves and some gorgeous sorrel



In terms of pricing

  • the soup, filled bagel and a single salad for a £5
  • a salad mix and (vegan) ‘buttered’ bagel for £4 (with a filled bagel will be £5)
  • filled bagel and salad will be £3.50
  •  a filled bagel will also be £2.50
  • soup on its own will be £1.50; with a (vegan) ‘buttered’ bagel will be £2.50
  • Finish off with a slice of watermelon



A new kitchen is a wonderful thing tinged with regret

Long in the planning, slow in the doing and then … suddenly i am there,  in new kitchens.

A temperamental door
But a lovely bake

There is a new oven, which is nearly a friend.

We think we need some time to get used to each other; we have high expectations of our skills and i can tell she looks at me through her ‘steam eyes’ when i have a tray of bagels and i am sure she is thinking oh, dear not another load of old bagels.

Or maybe this is just a story i am telling myself and we need to talk.



Like aliens in cryogenic suspension
Beetroot bagels lifting our attention

A new mixer, which is best friends with my shoulders; and a new (to me ) fridge which is best friends with my idea of what being a bagel baker is and with the trolley of trays which go with it. And look how great (and sinister) these beetroot bagels look.

And i am especially proud of my unassuming proving cupboard – made from things found and bolted together, to give a reasonably stable and effective bulk fermentation temperature.

When i turn my head backwards in time i look back at the lovely kitchen at Regather and most of all the really lovely people there. There is a bit of regret; but there is much  i can do now that i could not before.


I have more capacity and can starting baking other jewish specialist breads. You might expect Challah is on the list but Gerry does a fine Challah already; so that can wait. Bialys are the thing; of which more another time.

And I can experiment at leisure: first up is gluten free, much asked for and definitely on the product development path. I will be blogging about this in the near future.