I can’t believe that its been a whole year since I made a big wonderful dent in my bucket list & visited New York. Already planning a return to the Big Apple, hopefully in 2019 (watch this space),… for now I simply have to reminisce. Such an amazing, hectic city full of life & culture but also food. Any which food you can imagine, available at any time of day… this city is constantly buzzing & eating (or at least I was!).
If I’m certain of one thing when it comes to the culinary delights of New York, it’s that you cannot visit this city without enjoying a big, chewy bagel or two. Be it an original, eaten simply plain & toasted, a rye filled with thickly sliced smoked salmon or eaten sweet with a blanket of cream cheese topped by a generous dollop of grape jam.
New Yorkers are very proud of many aspect of their city & culture but in particular, their bagels (as they should be). Many would make the claim that nowhere else in the world can produce a better bagel than New York City does.
A Jewish invention, bagels arrived in New York in the late 1800’s when Jewish immigrants migrated there. Their name actually derives from the Yiddish work “beigen” which means to bend. These hand rolled, boiled, baked breads were being produced in small, family run bakeries. The distinct feature of a bagel, it’s hole, isn’t an aesthetic feature but in fact it is there to enable bakers to place dowels or strings through the middle in order to better transport them for selling.
As Jews assimilated & moved to different areas of the city, these traditions were further spread & shared. The consumption, size & production of bagels ever increased over the decades to make them a true icon & much-loved staple of the city.
For me a good bagel should have a shiny crust with a slight toughness to it when bitten & a chewy, slightly sweet dough inside. Rather unconventionally my favourite way to enjoy a bagel is either toasted & topped with marmalade or slathered with cream cheese & a little sweet, fruity jam.
As with any bread though, I do love a bit of experimentation… something that is almost insulting to most New Yonkers I’m sure, who’s most popular varieties include plain original & sesame bagels. They wouldn’t have anything added to the dough, let alone any modern rainbow coloured varieties of modern day Instagram fame.
This humble, chewy ring of dough is already a thing of beauty & comfort but it is a bread & breads are open to so many possibilities when it comes to flavouring. Not to offend too much, I’ve opted to include a fresh, sweet little ingredient that reminds me of America… blueberries. The worlds largest producers of this sweet purple berry, they have them in abundance & use them in muffins, pancakes, jam (rather well might I add) & now bagels!
A little tricky to pick up at first (hence the use of frozen blueberries) but persevere with this recipe & you’ll be rewarded with a sweet, chewy bagel with bursting pockets of sweet blueberry. A real treat for breakfast with a little (or a lot, its got fruit in it after all) cream cheese, these will certainly leave you satisfied.
- 150g wholemeal flour
- 350g strong white flour
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 7g dried fast-acting yeast
- 300ml water
- 150g blueberries (frozen)
- 1 egg white
To top (optional):
- 3 tbsp pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt & sugar
- Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture & pour in enough of the water to form a dough (you may not need all of the water or may need a little more, start with two-thirds & keep adding more until the dough comes together, adding more if your dough seems a bit dry)
- Empty the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface & knead for 10 minutes (or 5 minutes if using a stand mixer with a dough hook) until it is smooth & elastic when stretched
- Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm & leave to rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size
- Once your dough has risen, tip it out onto a floured work surface & knock back the dough(knead out the air pockets)
- Stretch out the dough slightly & tip over the frozen blueberries
- Gently knead these into the dough until evenly distributed
- Divide your dough into 8 equal sized pieces & shape into buns
- Cover the buns with a tea towel, or (my preference) place inside a large plastic bag & leave to prove for 30 – 45 minutes, until almost doubled in size & the dough springs back when gently pressed with a finger
Fill a large saucepan with water & 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda & bring to the boil
Taking one at a time, shape the bagels by poking a hole into the middle of the dough with your fingers & use a swirling motion to stretch out the holes
- Once shaped, carefully place your bagels, one or two at a time, into the boiling water & boil them for 2 minutes (1 minute each side)
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the bagels from the water & place directly onto a parchment lined baking sheet
- Brush the tops of the bagels with the egg white & sprinkle over the seeds if using
Bake the bagels at 180C for 25-30 minutes until golden brown & the bagels sound hollow when tapped from underneath
- Remove from the oven & allow to cool on a cooling rack before enjoying with lashings of cream cheese