18 hour bagels VG

18 hour bagels; homemade chewy and crisp slow fermented bagels with barley malt syrup and sesame seeds. Definitely on to a winner here with these bagels, they look the part and tasty so, so good, proud of myself with this one!

Finally, something resembling a sculpted bun. I bloody love bagels, their chewiness, their crunch and how flavorful they can be despite no added strong flavours. I think when it comes to baking/ cooking, some things are better left to the professionals; my homemade hummus SLAPS but sometimes the stuff from tescos is still pretty good when out and about and needing a fix of chickpeas. 
I think bagels may also fall into this category but on a different level - think how sometimes you'll crave cheap white sliced bread but you can't really recreated it at home. However, if you are looking for a crisp loaf with a good crumb, homemade is perfection.

NYC bakery bagels = cheap white bread (even though they are sppeeennnyyyy) 
Bagels from a local appreciated bakery = homemade bagels 
different but still very appreciated.

Wanting to give the humble bagel a bash, I turned to two gods for inspiration - Claire Saffitz and Felicity Cloake (Not the only Fliss you should be aware off) . Saffitz recently developed her bagel recipe for the NYT as well as her youtube channel. Cloake's recipe originates from her "How to cook the perfect..." at The Guardian. With a lot more digging around the internet and various tattered cook books, I had formulated a recipe which was accurate, kinda scientifically sound in terms of dough and most importantly, damn good.

Some take home points I concluded were that the higher the hydration of the dough, the more light and airy - we want chewy bois though therefore you have to tow the line of water carefully as too little will result in a mess. On that note, a lot of kneading is very necessary to build up that structure and unmistakable chew. 
Addition of the barley malt syrup adds the quintessential bagel taste to the table. You can make without but that traditional flavour oomph might be lacking. You could add some very finely ground wheat germ (sub 50g with the flour) instead if you have that on hand.
Boiling time is key - I found times vary from 30 seconds total to up to 3 minutes. The longer the boil, the chewy they are however if over boiled, it can leave them wrinkly and leather. Tread on the lower times.
18 hours for a reason; slow proving overnight yields a uniform consistency, develops structure and rounds out the flavour. Just tuck them up in the fridge overnight  covered lightly with another tray or cling.

  • 7g instant yeast
  • 250ml lukewarm water  (be vvv accurate) 
  • 17g barley malt syrup
  • 450g strong white bread flour 
  • 7g salt
to boil 
  • water
  • baking soda
  • barley malt syrup 
Put the yeast into the bowl and add the water and leave to bloom for 10 minutes. Little bubbles should appear showing the yeast is happy and alive. If not, throw this out and use another package of yeast. 
Add the syrup into the yeasty water and mix in well.

Add the flour directly into the mixture and then the salt on top of the flour. Either using your hands or a mixer, mix the dough until combined and shaggy. It will be on the drier side but refrain from adding any additional water. 

Knead for a good ten minutes until the dough is smooth, stiff and if pinched, feels like a earlobe (trust me). Oil a bowl and pop in the dough, cover with a damp tea towel and prove for 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Once risen, deflate the dough completely; don't hold back. Usually when making bread I like to be light handed at this stage however, as the bagels are going to have a long second prove, knock out all the air that has built up in the pillowy dough. 

Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. My bagels were 123g each and they are the size of a bagel you would want. Once divided, cover with a damp tea towel again and let them relax for 30 minutes. This makes them easier to shape.

To shape, take one of the balls of dough and either using your hands or a rolling pin, flatten it out to a rectangle, approximately 23cm long and 6cm tall. Roll this up tightly from the long end, as if your were making cinnamon rolls. Squeeze the exposed seam into the dough. Roll out this roll out until 2cm thick with tapered ends and then join the ends together, overlapping by a bit. Squeeze the seams again to make sure the bagel stays ~bagely~.

Place on a spare of greaseproof paper and continue to shape the others. Once all are shaped, cover lightly with clingfilm and place in the fridge for between 8-12 hours (if you sleep for 12 hours I'm jealous).

In the morning, the bagels should be puffy but not overly inflated. Preheat the oven to 200c and get a very big pot of water on to boil. Add 2 tsp baking soda and enough syrup to make it the colour of ice tea.

2 at a time, place the bagels from cold into the VIGOROUSLY BOILING WATER  and boil for 30 seconds a side. Once the minute is up, remove and place on a wire rack and continue with the rest. If you want to add any toppings, add them now.

Place the bagels onto a metal baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until they are a dark golden hue.
Gauge their doneness on their colour!!!!! I may have baked mine a few seconds too long so if you prefer a lighter bagel, linger around the 15 minute mark. 

Best eaten on the day.