If you are just starting out baking, the important thing is have all your ingredients ready and time. Critical weights are flour and water as this gets the correct hydration level for the type of bread you are making.
Bagel dough should be quite dry in comparison to other doughs. You may find that combining the last bit of flour takes some effort but it will combine.
1/ Yeast. These recipes are given using instant yeast. Specifically when i use instant yeast i use Doves Instant Organic yeast. But you can use fresh or active yeast. (I love using fresh yeast). Doves Farm have a helpful conversion chart
If you use less yeast the prooving slows down and if you use more it speeds up. Slower is thought to be better: increasing flavour and also making gluten more easily digested.
2/ Water. The amount of water needs to be carefully controlled. You may need to alter it depending on the ingredients and this is indicated in the individual recipes above.
The temperature of the water is a way of controlling proofing time. You can add a little bit of hot water to water straight from the tap to make it tepid, and this will help the fermentation. Or you can cool it down further if the air i very hot (as in the summer of 2018) to slow down fermentation. Experiment but don’t worry about it too much either!
3/ Sugar. I am looking to remove sugar from the recipe entirely. There is a bit of work to do but essentially if you would like to do this, and still make the amount indicated in the recipe sheets, remove the sugar and add 21 grams flour and 11 grams of water
4/Bakers Percentage. There is a column in the sheets that is headed by the % sign. If you want to make more (or less) than the numbers indicated you can use this to calculate the weight of the ingredients. Start off with your flour weight and consider everything else to be a proportion of that weight
1/ Mixing and kneeding. Mix the ingredients in this order:
- flour, yeast, sugar; combine
- add other dry ingredients and salt; combine
- add water with any other wet ingredient; mix with a dough scraper or your hand
Kneeding is much written about. Essentially you stretch and fold until the dough is elastic and silky. Use the window-pane test to determine when to stop.
2/ Prooving. Shape the kneeded dough into a ball and set aside to proove in plastic container or covered bowl. If using a bowl you might want a little coating of oil to stop the dough from drying out. Leave in a warm draft free place for about an hour. If your room is cool then this will take longer to proove. No worries about that.
3/ Shaping to bagels and rising. Once the dough seems prooved (about doubled in size – after about an hour; the dough springs back when pushed with your finger) , cut the dough into equal sizes. Weigh out or use your eye – either is fine.
Shape to bagels – there are loads of ways to do this. Do what is right for you. Some people do the ‘roll into a ball, rest and poke a hole’ method. I don’t because it is not fast enough. But it is fine if it suits you. (Though it is what i do when making no gluten bagels. )
So, if right handed, use your right hand to press hard in the middle of each cut
shape so you make a sort of dog bone shape. Place your left hand on to the top of the right hand and then slide them apart pressing equally as the ‘dog-bone’ shapes into a long rope of dough. Stop at about 30cm. It is not critical.
Place your right hand , palm up, about an 3cm inside the right hand end of the dough rope. Bring the overlap to your ring finger.
Now turn your hand to the left so your palm is down and the two ends overlap by about 2cm. A bit more or less does not matter. Avoid wrapping the dough tight round your hand. If you have extra larger hands or extra small hands you may need to make some adjustments but it really does not matter.
4/ Rising. You can place your bagels in the fridge overnight. This gives a slow rise. Or you can leave in a warm place for about an hour. Again they are risen
when the indent from a finger pressed into the dough springs back. The time taken depends on the temperature of your room – an hour should be ok.
5/ Boiling. Boil in water with malt syrup added. Boil vigorously for about 45 seconds. You will see loads of variations here – from 5 seconds to one minute each side. Experiment. See what happens!
6/ Bake. Place on an oven tray in a hot oven (475 F, 250C, gas mark 9) until dark brown, about 15 minutes – but might be more or a bit less. If using a fan oven then decrease the temperature by about 25F