Once described as tasting "like a doughnut dipped in cement," these rolls were invented by a Polish Jewish baker to celebrate the victory of his King, Jan Sobieski, in the Siege of Vienna, 1683. Originally they were to be in the shape of a stirrup (German word for a stirrup is beugel). Successfully transplanted to the other side of the world by Jewish bakers, bagels were, like knishes, once confined to the Lower East Side of New York. Now bagel bakeries have sprung up all over the United States, as bagel fever spreads. Everyone can appreciate how delicious a bagel is, especially topped with cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon).
Bagels vary from community to community, in different parts of the world. The high-rising, commercial American bagel is made with high-gluten flour, and is far less tasty than the thinner and crustier European and Israeli versions. The following recipe is for the latter variety. If you like
egg bagels (which are an American invention), add an egg to the mixture along with the water.
1 envelope active dry yeast or 1/2 cake compressed yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup margarine
1 cup water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1. Mix the yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Put the remaining sugar, salt, margarine, and water in a saucepan and heat over low heat until the margarine melts. Let cool to lukewarm.
2. Sift the flour into a large bowl and gradually stir in the liquid. When the dough is smooth, turn out onto a floured board and knead until it no longer sticks to your fingers, about 10 minutes. Put dough into a warmed, greased bowl and cover with plastic. Leave it in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
3. Punch dough down, then divide into 20 balls of equal size. Roll each ball into a strip about 5 inches long and shape the strip into a ring, pinching the ends very firmly together so they do not come apart during cooking. Arrange the rings on a floured board and cover with a damp cloth. Leave them in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes.
4. Bring a large pan of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and when the water is boiling very gently, drop a ring into it. As soon as it rises to the top, remove it with a skimmer. Drain on a wooden board or absorbent paper and repeat with the rest of the rings.
5. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 2 cookie sheets. Transfer the rings to the cookie sheets and bake until crisp and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
To make bagel zwiebacks, slice day-old bagels into thin pieces, then toast in a very cool oven. Store in an airtight container.
1 person has helped to review this recipe. Thankyou!