Saturday, 24 September 2011

Bagel, schmagel

I feel like I have done nothing this week but get stuff out of the freezer (admittedly stuff I have cooked on another occasion specifically so that on mad weeks like the one that's just been, I can do just that) and I've felt a bit kitchen deprived. The husband has been away all week, but before he went off to darkest Wales, he finished off turning a piece of fairly ordinary supermarket beef into a delicious piece of pastrami that has been sitting in the fridge waiting for his return. What better for Saturday lunch than bagels with cream cheese, pastrami & gherkins. I reached for Domestic Goddess, and the strong white flour...

Homemade bagels with home cured & smoked pastrami,
gherkins and cream cheese

The Dough!
We've had lots to do today, and the good thing about making any kind of bread really is that although it might seem complicated and longwinded, it's just a few stages where you might need to spend a few minutes and then get on with something else between times. So stage one - the dough. Fairly similar to normal bread dough although you use half the amount of yeast (so for a kilo of strong white flour, use 1 sachet of yeast), 500 ml of warm water with a tablespoon of oil and 2 of sugar dissolved into it. You mix this together then knead it - I have an ancient Kenwood with a dough hook, and I always use it for kneading. It was partiiculalrly helpful here because the dough is really dry and hard to work, so I just left the kenwood taking the strain and went to hang out the washing. By the time I'd done that the dough was looking great - really smooth and elastic - probably about as close to looking like the recipe says as I've ever been in a bread making scenario. Easy peasy and time to leave the washing to dry and walk the dog. The husband was spending time with the kids at swimming lessons, so I had the onerous job of striding out on a glorious and sunny September morning across the fields for an hour or so while the dog ran himself ragged. No rabbits fortunately which was a relief - after a break for a few days, I had been proudly presented with another bunny yesterday. One he was obviously keen to keep as I ended up having to prise it out of his jaws. Not nice.

But I digress. Back home and the dough was looking good, but I thought I'd leave it a little longer, so on to the next job - swabbing out the mud from Daisy (the van) and getting her ready to go into the barn for winter. I shall be sad to see her go, but it really is the best place for a lady of advancing years to spend the colder, wetter months of the year.

As lunch time approached, with Daisy repacked with all her clean crockery and ready for the barn, I turned back to the bagels. The dough was looking well risen (it probably had an hour longer than the recipe said, but didn't appear any the worse for it). The next bit takes a bit of time - forming the bagels. The dough is split into 3, each thiurd is then rolled into a 'rope' pof dough and divided into 5 pieces, which are in turn rolled into little ropes, then formed into loops. Quite fun in a 'playdough' type of way.
Waiting to puff
You get to leave the doughy loops under teatowels for another 20 mins to get all puffy, during which time you need to bring a large pan of water to boil and get the oven up nice and hot (240C or as hot as it will go). Once the water is boiling you add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the pan and when the bagels have puffed up you start the initial part of the cooking which is poaching them for a minute. You have to do it in twos (threes at most) otherwise they'd be in too long, but it doesn't take much time:

Boiling the bagels

Then onto oiled baking sheets and into the oven for 10-15 mins till they are golden brown - like so:

I was really pleased with how they turned out, and after a few minutes cooling, they were ready to eat. The husband had to slice the pastrami - I had meant to take it to the butcher and ask him if he would do it for us on his whizzy slicing machine, but I got too absorbed in cleaning Daisy, so we had to make do with a carving knife. Split bagels, slather on the cream cheese add pastrami and some sliced gherkins - delicious. 

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