Sleepless in Dalston, bagels for brunch

 “If you must bake in a tent, bake in a tent – but, please, don’t bake in a tent!” 

On this years Bake Off ,contestant Marc Elliott unveiled his skills of baking bagels, and his sourdough bagels with sesame seeds looked stunning it inspired me to turn my hand to a bit of home bagel baking.He went on to add that he likes to dunk his bagels into a big pot of dhal -I wouldn´t go that far. Most commonly associated with new York delis like Katz and and food emporiums like Zabar´s, the bagel is  certainly not generic to the Algarve. I have always loved a bagel and have happy memories, as a footloose and free young man, of stumbling out of east London clubs in the early hours of a Sunday morning, hungry and seeking some sort of  sustenance. You know that feeling when you need some smoked salmon and cream cheese, sweet salt beef bagel or something in your life, but you’re not on Brick Lane? This week two memories of those bagel shop days returned to me. Iconic East London institution Beigel Bake – the Brick Lane bakery that has famously been serving freshly-baked and generously-filled beigels 24-hours-a-day seven-days-a-week since 1977, was notable for popping its legendary hot bagels into to your greedy little hands within seconds of passing through the door; just the ticket for the hardened clubber. If you were sleepless in Dalston you could pop to the Ridley road bakery, also a 24 hour bakery.The bagel shop was called Kossoff’s bakery. I dont know if it even exists anymore?

 These establishments were the insomniac, the clubber and the night workers best friend.I thought it would be fun to rekindle these memories by baking some bagels for Sunday brunch.  Let’s clear something up right away: New York City isn’t the only place in the world to get decent, authentic bagels. The truth is, you can make bagels that are just as good at home, no matter where you live. They’re one of the simplest breads to make, requiring only flour, water, salt, yeast, and malt (honey)—and one secret ingredient: time (in the form of long, slow, cold fermentation). Any decent bagel shop knows this and uses an overnight method to stretch out the fermentation process, releasing all sorts of subtle flavours trapped in the flour. While bagel shops often use a type of high-protein flour not available to home cooks to achieve that distinctively chewy texture, regular, unbleached bread flour can also do the trick. The real key is to use a much lower percentage of water than is used for baguettes and other European hearth baked breads, producing a stiff dough that can stand up to a dunking in boiling water before going into the oven. More than any ingredient or other aspect of the method, this boiling step is what defines the uniqueness of the bagel. That said, bagels do usually feature one other distinctive ingredient: barley malt. While this may seem like an exotic, hard-to-find product, it’s actually commonly available at most supermarkets, usually labeled “barley malt syrup.” If you can’t find it, simply substitute, like i did, an equal amount of honey. Your bagels might not have that malty flavor, but they’ll still be better than almost any bagel you can buy. We loved our smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels on Sunday morning.I split the batch into two varieties of topping, sesame seed and dehydrated minced onion.They keep fresh for a few days in an airtight ziploc bag, or you can keep them in the fridge in an airtight container for 2 weeks.You can also freeze them before or after you have cooked them.I googled home made bagels and then combed through a lot of sites familiarizing myself with the techniques of bagel making and then settled on the recipe that I found to be most user friendly, with a lot of "along the way" guidance and practical tips.It was baking a moment:New york bagel recipe
Some favourite fillings of mine are:
  • Just plain butter
  • Cream cheese
  • Smoked salmon
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese
  • Capers
  • any kind of beef
  • Fresh sliced cucumber
  • Fresh sliced avocado
  • Scrambled fried or poached egg
  • Bacon, sausage, or ham ( with or without egg)
  • Any kind of cheese
  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Peanut butter cream cheese and celery
  • Honey


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