Over the Christmas break we went over to the east quite a few times as our visitors wanted to hang out at Bondi Beach. On the way home I stopped at one of our famous bagel shops and bought a big bag of them. They were so disappointing – bagel shaped bread rolls. And not even nice bread rolls at that. My kids begged for sourdough bagels. “We have cream cheese in the fridge, so this is a sign that you should make more bagels” they said. My bread baking has not been great lately. I have been blaming Andrew, telling him that he has put a jinx on my bread making skills with all his complaining about not being allowed to buy bread from the deli up the road, not having plain white bread to eat, why does it always have to be sourdough etc. He also complains about bit of sourdough that ends up stuck to bowls or the kitchen bench, set like concrete. So all the blame for the disastrous loaves has fallen on him. I secretly suspected that one of the bags of spelt flour I had was also to blame. Nothing I tried to make with that spelt worked. It did not hold the structure at all, just kept collapsing into a flat mess. Didn’t bake well either, retained a wet, raw texture no matter what I did with it. I had bagged up my three huge bags of spelt into two kilo bags and put them in the freezer. I knew the first bag was fantastic as I had great results with it. I suspect one of the others was not so great but ofcourse they are all mixed and I have no way of telling. I remembered Jo and others commenting on earlier spelt bread posts that they had no success with spelt. I know what they mean.
So blaming Andrew, and reducing the amount of spelt (as well as trying another of my bags of spelt flour) seems to have lifted the curse on my baking skills. They are not back to what they were, but I can turn out an edible loaf now. And these bagels were certainly good. A bit too good as I ate four…oops…so much for being good about not eating gluten. Here is the recipe I used (started off life as a recipe from Celia @Fig Jam and Lime Cordial).
Spelt and Wheat Sourdough bagels
(makes about 36 bagels)
450gm sourdough starter
4 large tablespoons of malt extract (I like the malt taste so use quite a lot more than most recipes)
400gm spelt flour
700gm bakers (wheat) flour
1 tablespoon salt
Mix the above (apart from the salt) and combine into a rough dough. Leave for 15 minutes. Add the salt and knead well. Place a bowl over the top and leave for 10 minutes. Knead for 3-5 minutes. Leave for another ten minutes and then knead again. Do this rest and knead once more if you have the patience for it. Place in an oiled bowl and leave for 4-5 hours until nearly doubled in size. Turn the dough out onto a floured bench and cut into pieces. Shape each piece as you would if you were making a round roll. Poke your thumb into the middle of the roll and use your fingers to stretch out the holes. Place on a sheet of baking paper. Leave the shaped bagels to rest for at least 1-2 hours depending on the room temperature. Bring a pan of water to boil (I use a wide, shallow pan). Add a couple of tablespoons of malt extract and a tablespoon of salt. Slide the bagels into the boiling water. I slide the entire sheet of baking paper in (I cut it into a size that I know fits my pan). That way I don’t maul the bagels trying to lift them up, I don’t have to put heaps of extra flour on the sheet for the resting time (I don’t like that excess flour taste) and it is very easy. After a few seconds the bagels just slide off the paper and I take the paper out of the water. Turn the bagels over after a minute. Cook for a minute on each side. Take them out of the water with a slotted spoon and place onto a tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle on sesame seeds or other toppings. Bake in an oven preheated to 230C for 15-20 minutes.