Bagels

I’m not at all sure why but generally at Christmastime the supermarkets like to sell big packets of smoked salmon. As much as I love the stuff, I wasn’t aware of it being a traditional Christmas thing. So after Christmas, these packs of salmon go on sale and I decided to take advantage and have my favourite breakfast, bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese. I used the recipe in Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ as she is an absolute genius and I love her. So much so in fact that I ended up purchasing the same dressing gown she wore in one of her shows – decorated with a map of Venice, partly because I loved it and partly because I want to be her. The recipe makes 15 bagels which I didn’t need so I actually quartered the recipe though I made half the amount of bagels which probably explains why they were a bit smaller than what I was expecting. Also, I think my yeast might need replacing as they didn’t rise as much as the last time I made them where the hole in the middle almost completely closed up. The method below is correct though and as you can see, I still got pretty decent bagels so it’s pretty foolproof.

Makes 8 bagels

Ingredients

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 7g yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp oil and more for greasing
  • 250ml tepid water
  • 2 tbsp malt vinegar (or sugar)

Method

1.) Measure out the water into a measuring jug and sprinkle the yeast on the top. Leave to ferment for about 10 minutes.

2.) Into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or you can do this by hand) add the salt, sugar (1/2 tbsp) and oil to the bottom of the bowl.

3.) Weigh out the flour into the bowl.

4.) Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer, connect the bowl and pour the fermented yeast on top.

5.) Put onto a low setting for about 10 minutes. (It will take longer by hand as it is quite a dry dough).

6.) Take the dough out of the bowl, drizzle it lightly with oil. Put the dough back in and turn around to coat the dough with the oil.

7.) Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave the dough to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size.

8.) Knead and divide the dough into 2 pieces.

9.) Roll each piece out into a rope and cut into 4 pieces.

10.) Roll each piece out even thinner, form a circle and squeeze the ends together.

11.) Boil a kettle and pour the water into a pan. Add the vinegar and turn the pan onto a simmer.

12.) Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper. Grease with oil. (I did forget this step but I can’t imagine how this wouldn’t improve the bagels)

13.) Place 2 bagels at a time into the water, they should float, leave for 30 seconds then flip over to poach both sides.

14.) Put the poached bagels onto the baking paper, spread out. They’ll be a bit puffy from the poaching.

15.) Preheat the oven to 240 degrees C. Leave the bagels for 20 minutes, covered with a tea towel.

16.) Bake the bagels for 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool before serving.

Fougasse + Beef & Wine Soup

During my holiday staying close to the town of Fougasse, I took it upon myself to try all of the fougasse that I could find. I normally don’t allow myself too much bread at home due to a mild gluten intolerance and a complete incapacity to stop myself eating the whole lot in two days. I was intrigued as to how homemade fougasse (from Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ would come out compared to the real-thing. The answer was pretty good though I think they put more oil on the outside of the bread that I tried to give it a nice crispy toasted flavour. Fougasse originates from focaccia but is spread out further for the crispiness. As for the beef and wine soup, I’ve just always had an eye on it from the cookbook ‘Two Greedy Italians’ but wasn’t sure how it would work as a vegetarian option. The soup itself was pretty salty using stock and parmesan but it paired very nicely to dip the bread into. As a recommended serving, I would serve a small portion of the soup with the bread as a starter.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 10g dried yeast
  • 250ml tepid water
  • 400g strong white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra to brush)
  • 500ml ‘beef’ stock – I used Massel beef flavoured stock which I find has a very convincing beef flavour
  • 250ml white wine
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 50ml double cream
  • 50ml parmesan

Method

1.) Measure out the tepid water into a measuring jug and add the yeast. Leave it to brew for about 10 minutes.

2.) Measure out the flour with the salt, stir the salt into the flour so that when you pour the water on, it doesn’t instantly hit the salt which will kill the yeast.

3.) Mix the yeasty water with the flour. Knead by hand on a floured surface until the dough is soft and smells of yeast or as I did in a stand mixer with a dough hook (5 minutes). The dough will be very soft.

4.) Cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour, then place in the fridge overnight.

5.) Knead the dough for 5 minutes, place back in the bowl, put a damp tea towel on top then leave to rise for 30 minutes.

6.) Split the dough into two and form an oval with each. Cut slashes into the dough like the veins of a leaf.

7.) Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the dough on top. Leave to rise for an hour.

8.) About 15 minutes before the hour is up, preheat the oven to 240 degrees C.

9.) Brush the doughs with olive oil. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 210 degrees C and bake for a further 12 – 15 minutes.

10.) For the soup, measure out the stock and grate the parmesan.

11.) Add the stock and wine to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for 1 minute then turn down the heat.

12.) Measure out the cream and add to the soup with a pinch of cinnamon.

13.) Tip in the parmesan and stir to melt. Serve with pieces of bread.

Pretzels

I wanted a few bites from a few different countries for my Eurovision party (lets not talk about the UK’s result) and decided to make some tasty German pretzels with a beer cheese dip. I found the pretzel recipe on the blog ‘Sally’s Baking Addiction’ but I halved it as the pretzels were part of a melee of things. Pretzels are a nice bread choice to make as you only need to let the dough rest for 10 minutes before you can crack on with making them. I didn’t sprinkle them with salt – I’ve never been too keen on the crunching into large salt rocks but feel free to do so before you bake.

Makes 10

Ingredients

  • 180ml tepid water
  • 5g yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp soft butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 120g baking soda
  • 2,000ml water (or how much fits into your pan)

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Measure out the flour into a large bowl and add the salt and sugar. Mix around with a fork as you don’t want the yeast to hit the salt.

3.) Sprinkle the yeast into the tepid water and let it brew for 10 minutes.

4.) Pour the yeasty water into the flour and mix with your hand to form a ball. Tip out onto the counter top and knead for about 7 minutes until the dough is smooth.

5.) Let it sit for 10 minutes

6.) Boil the 2000ml of water and once boiling, add the baking soda. Line a baking tray.

7.) Cut the dough into 10 equal pieces

8.) Roll each piece into a rope (probably a bit longer and thinner than mine if you want really neat pretzels).

9.) Shape the dough into pretzels.

10.) Add the pretzels to the baking soda bath – I did two at a time but you can judge based on the size of your pan. Leave for 15 seconds, flip over and leave for 15 more. Then remove to a baking tray with a slotted spoon. (This step gives the distinctive pretzel taste).

11.) Once all the pretzels have been dunked in the baking soda mix (they look a bit puffy after this) and are all on the baking tray, bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.