Bagels

The differentiating element in their preparation is a brief scalding in boiling water prior to baking. They should be eaten as soon after they cool as possible, as after only a few hours they become dry and heavy. They do freeze extremely well, however, and can be reheated from frozen by 10 minutes in a moderate oven.

Serve them with the classic combination of smoked salmon (known in Yiddish as fox) and cream cheese or with cream cheese and chopped onion. A scrape of cream cheese on its own is called a schmir.

Ingredients

  • 300 ml/ ½ pt milk
  • 300 ml/ ½ pt hand-hot water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • one 6-g/ ¼-oz sachet of easy-blend yeast
  • 900 g/ 2 lb strong white bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • eggs, separated
  • 60 g/ 2 oz melted butter
  • oil, for greasing

Method

Put the milk and hand-hot water in the bowl of an electric mixer with the salt, sugar and yeast. Turn on the dough-hook at low speed and pour in the flour, whites of the 2 eggs and the melted butter. Work for 8 minutes to a smooth, pliant dough. Turn up the speed to full and beat for 1 minute.

Remove to a floured surface and knead briefly, then roll into a ball. Put in an oiled bowl, cover the top with clingfilm and leave to rise at room temperature for 2 hours.

Knock the dough down, then divide it into 30 pieces. Roll these into cylinders and join the ends together to form rings. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise for 45–60 minutes.

Put a large pan of water to boil and preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7. Working 2 at a time, put the bagels into the boiling water for 20 seconds, then transfer them to a lightly oiled baking tray. Glaze the tops with the egg yolks beaten with 1 tablespoon of water and bake in batches for 20 minutes, when they will be well risen and a nice shiny golden colour. Allow to cool on a rack.

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