If you're a native New Yorker, all it probably takes to sate your bagel and schmear craving is a walk to your nearest deli.
In Hong Kong, however (and many other cities), bagelries are few and far between and likely involve a schlep and exhausting, hungry search. And after bringing home one too many crunchy, donut-shaped, bread rolls (not boiled bagels), I decided the best thing to do to avoid further bagel disappointment was to make my own. I had put this off for years, intimidated by the boiling part of the process and thinking it more complicated than it was. But really, making your own bagels couldn't be easier.
Here's what you need to make your own delicious boiled bagels. Get creative and top them with whatever you like, and bring on the vegan cream cheese and avocado (and dare I add, Vegemite)!
2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 warm water
4 tsp brown sugar
3 1/5 cups bread flour
1 cup warm water
1/2 tsp finely ground kosher salt
large pot/Dutch oven half filled with water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 cup molasses or brown sugar
dried mince garlic
dried mince onion
Mix 1/2 cup warm water with yeast and sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then mix. Let sit another 5 minutes until the mixture gets frothy (that means the yeast is activated).
Mix flour and salt in a large bowl
Create a well in the flour mixture, then slowly add the warm water and keep mixing. The mixture should be tacky. Add more water if necessary.
Once all mixed, move the dough to a lightly floured table and knead for about 10 minutes or until firm, smooth and elastic.
Create a smooth ball of dough and place the dough in a lightly oiled, clean bowl.
Cover with compostable cling wrap or a damp towel, and let the dough sit until it rises double in size— about 1-2 hours depending on the humidity in the room.
Once the dough has doubled in size, press it down a little to let some of the air out. Remove the dough from the bowl and onto a clean work bench. Cut the dough into about 10 equal sized pieces (or 8 if you want a larger bagel).
Working one piece at a time, roll the dough into a tight ball. Move your hand in a circular motion, rolling the dough across the workbench until it has a smooth, round shape. Place the dough ball with the messy seam side down, and cup your hand over it, continuing to gently roll and shape it so that you create a nice dome shape.
Repeat on all the dough pieces and cover them with a damp cloth to let rest for 5 minutes.
Boil water in a Dutch oven or large pot. Add 3/4 tsp of bicarbonate soda and 2 tbsp molasses into the water. This will enhance the flavour and colour of the bagels.
Turn on the oven to 220 degrees.
With a skillet spoon add 3 bagels at a time or as many as can fit into Dutch oven (bearing in mind they will expand). The bagels will float. Boil for 1 minute on each side and gently turn over. Boiling for longer gives the bagels a nice chewiness but it can also result in a more pockmarked and uneven texture. Practice makes perfect.
Remove the bagels with a slotted skillet and place on a wire rack. While the surface of the bagel is still a little sticky you can roll the bagels in sesame seeds, poppy seeds or dried mince garlic/onion (or a mix of everything for an 'everything bagel')
Once all the bagels are boiled and topped, place them onto a parchment lined tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven onto a wire rack and leave the bagels to cool, or just eat them hot with a slathering of vegan schmear ( I love Miyoko's Creamery Cream Cheese, but check to see if it's available in your area).
Left: Divide the large ball of dough into about 10 equal sized pieces, and roll each piece into a smooth smaller ball.
Right: With a flour coated finger, poke a hole in the centre of each dough ball and gently stretch each out to form a ring.
Boil bagels in a Dutch oven
Left: Remove the bagels with a slotted skillet and place on a wire rack. While the surface of the bagel is still a little sticky you can roll the bagels in sesame seeds, poppy seeds or topping of your choice.
Right: Once all the bagels are boiled and topped, place them onto a parchment lined tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.