Bagel school – book your place now!

Book your place on Bagel School now!Have you ever wondered how to make bagels? why not surprise your friends and family with a fresh baked bagel from your own oven?

Come to Bagel School and learn how to do it!

Book your place on Bagel School now!

Running from 10 am – 3pm , the first Sunday of every month between November and April next year, in the commercial kitchen at Regather, you learn how to shape bagels, the type of dough mixture you need to get that familiar bagel chew and get to learn tips and tricks to make them come out just right.

No need to bring any equipment, just a spirit of fun and curiosity.

You will take away your clutch of bagels and a specially designed tower of bagel notebook.

Vegan lunch included.

Book now!

…or buy a voucher – look here find out more

Don’t scramble your life, just your tofu – on a beetroot bagel

A friend recently said that  they had ‘gone  vegan’ .

 A friend recently said that they had ‘gone vegan’ .

This is an odd phrase; it implies a lifestyle transformation rather than just a conscious decision to alter diet. We don’t weigh down other diet changes with the same baggage – such as not eating cheese or high fat products.

It is a hard choice in spite of the current supermarket trends, probably because so much of our lives are peppered with meat products and animal derivatives. And it can be more expensive.

But it need not be a life scrambler.

So when my friend, a loyal and valued beetroot bagel lover, bemoaned a lack of replacement for scrambled eggs on beetroot bagel, i came up with this vegan alternative.

1 medium onion finely chopped – i used white but red would also work well
150g Clearspring Silken tofu mashed (if you are in Sheffield, from Beanies Zeds or Nutshell)
1/2 green chilli finely chopped
Dash of soya sauce
Black pepper to taste
Steam some spinach – optional
Some sport on telly

If you are having spinach or spring greens from your Regather veg box (or your garden) with it, wash and prepare them for steaming.

Halve the beetroot bagel

Soften the onion on a low heat in some olive oil

Meanwhile finely chop about half a green chilli (i don’t have this very hot, just enough to let you know it is there; so i use about half a chilli, but your taste buds are different so use what you think is best for you.)

When the onion is translucent, add the chilli and leave on a low heat for about another five minuets stirring occasionally.
Mash the Tofu and add

Turn up the heat slightly, add soya sauce and black pepper and stir.

If you are steaming greens, put on a pan of water. If you do not have a steamer just a covering on the bottom of the pan is fine. Bring to the boil. Add greens, cover.

Stir the tofu – there is a bit of liquid with the silken tofu that can be boiled off but not so it becomes dry.

When the greens are slightly shriveled, all is done.

Plate up, find some great sport on telly , enjoy.

Summer proofing

Summer baking it was blast
I had some bread, proofing so fast
I made some bagels with sesame seeds
They split their crust like shelling peas
Summer days so hard to bake
Oh oh – from night to daybreak

This is the first change of season in the new bakery.  I have been amazed at how the flour is no longer cool but warm to the touch.  How the dough is warm coming out the mixer and already feels airy. And with increased demand (cannot knock that!) this variation makes it hard getting the product absolutely right each time.

I imagine that in big manufacturers where they don’t really bake the bread (:>) they have control of the environment: heaters, air conditioners, humidity injectors and hi tech proofing cupboards.

So in my bakery the only tech i have is my own biological feedback system : my brain and my eyes and they don’t work so well some days.

The problem does  not come from leaving a single  mix longer to proove or shorter, though that is part of it. But more how can further mixes be done in tandem so that the bakery is as efficient as possible?

Whereas before i could do all my mixing and be confident that the first batch would be ready to shape by the time the mixing has stopped, the warmer weather means i have to mix two or maybe three batches then shape; then resume mixing any further batches after this.

It can feel disturbing to change a routine: the routine represents control, long worked for in the early hours, and is also a guarantee of quality –  ‘if i do this then this then this, the quality is assured’. But it is also exciting, a new problem to wrestle with, a new challenge and once sorted, renewed confidence that the process can change and the bagels still be as good.

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.