Please excuse the title of this post. I couldn't resist yet another bread based pun!
I've spent the past two months subjecting my lovely nest to never ending tests of bagels. They were everywhere and were not getting any better.
Initially, I tried the Daniel Stevens recipe (essential 'Bread' book) which produced the examples at the top of the post. I tried two different types of shaping - both rolling out like a sausage then linking the ends together, plus also the finger through the dough and spinning technique. The latter technique produced the best bagels. But they were a bit small. His recipe says it makes 12, so I reduced that amount to 10 at the next bake.
(Left hand side: shaped by spinning. Right hand side: joining ends together)
I was confident that I had mastered bagels. Yeh right! The next attempt was a disaster. They shrivelled into nothing when placed into the oven. I was miffed, so I tried another batch the following day, adding a bit more yeast.......another disaster.
I baked some for a market, which were SLIGHTLY better, but not quite right. They all sold but I had to inform all customers that they tasted ok even if they looked nothing like bagels (lumpy, flat you get the picture).
It was the next batch that really broke the harmony in the nest. They were baked for a local school fair. I would have given them a D-. At best. But I had lots of people coming back to me after buying them saying I shouldn't grumble about them as they were nice. NICE? I don't want nice. I want GREAT!
The problem with the last batch was that they were left too long. I had read so many recipes and listened to lots of advice about making bagels that I thought that making them enormous before putting them into boiling water would be the best way to ensure nice sized bagels when they came out of the oven. This is not good advice!
So there I was. With my Rachel Allen 'Bake' book. Her recipe said it makes seven bagels. That sounded better! I followed the recipe, with the exception of leaving the bagels to prove for 45 minutes instead of 15 minutes. They looked good and went into the boiling water without shrivelling and came out huge. Into the red hot oven and they looked AWESOME!
So I've tampered with timings, amounts of yeast, sugar and toppings. I'm now happy with our bagels! They fill a plate and fill yer tummy!
Recipe? Not yet!