Poppy Seed Bagels

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We landed back into Hong Kong this morning after two weeks drifting around Thailand. We had an amazing time heading north to the temples of Chiang Mai, then south to the islands around Phuket. Tonight I’m torn between clinging onto the holiday feeling for just one night, or preparing myself for the real world that hits again tomorrow. It’s a holiday treat take-away curry for tea, but a big batch of tomato soup bubbling away on the stove for back to work lunches. I’ll also be getting these out of the freezer to try and make the return to early mornings a little more bearable.

I first had bagels about 15 years ago at Beigel Bake on London’s Brick Lane.   If you ever find yourself in London, get to Brick Lane. It’s here in the East End where London shows it’s true colours as a melting pot of cultures. There’s the market on Sundays, a seemingly endless array of curry houses (don’t drink the ‘free’ wine they offer, it’s not worth it!) and then there’s the Bagels.  Take yourself to Beigel Bake any time of the day or night, and order a warm bagel topped with mountains of salt beef, or lashings of cream cheese and smoked salmon from the counter top which hasn’t changed since the 70s.

If you can’t get yourself down to Brick Lane, you could try making your bagels at home instead. This recipe is really easy. Boiling the dough before baking gives the bagels their distinctive chewy texture.

Poppy Seed Bagels

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(Makes 6 bagels)

Ingredients

150g Strong White Bread Flour

300g Wholemeal Bread Flour

200ml warm water

7g sachet dried yeast

4tbsp sugar

2 tsp salt

1 egg

2tbsp poppy seeds

Method

Put the flours into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the dried yeast and 1tbsp sugar. Pour in a little of the water and mix to a porridge-like consistency. Add the salt and rest of the water and mix until all the flour is combined. You may need to adjust the levels of flour and water to get a soft, but not sticky, dough.

Form your dough into a ball and place into a clean bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size.

Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7

Divide your dough into 6 equal sized balls. Shape them into a bagel shape by putting your finger through the middle of the ball and twirling the dough around until a hole has been formed. Alternatively you could use a handle of a wooden spoon.

  Heat up a large pan of water and add in the remaining sugar. Whisk it all up so the sugar dissolves. Two at a time, put the bagels into the boiling water. Cook them for about two minutes, turning in the water, until they have risen to the surface of the water and puffed up a little.

Remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake for about 25 minutes until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Spilt open and top with lashings of cream cheese and salmon, or freeze and toast to defrost when you need them.

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