It's very hard to find good bagels in London.
Sure, the supermarkets sell tasteless rings of bread, passing them off as bagels. They're a very poor imitation of the real thing though.
The most reliable source for bagels is Brick Lane. This street in the East End has been home to successive waves of immigrants: Huguenots, Jews from central and eastern Europe, and more recently Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.
There's little evidence left of the Jewish immigrants, except for an excellent bagel shop. The shop attracts customers from all over London in search of authentic bagels. It attracts a diverse clientele, from City bankers wandering over from Bishopsgate at lunchtime, to cab drivers, to club kids from Shoreditch in search of a late night snack (the shop is open 24 hours).
This past weekend, I could have headed over to Brick Lane to satisfy my bagel cravings. However, I decided to try something a bit more challenging.
I made my own.
I won't bother giving you a detailed bagel recipe. Those of you who are industrious enough, or crazy enough, to make your own bagels will undoubtedly be able to find a recipe.
The secret to making bagels lies not in the ingredients, but in the unusual cooking technique -- they're boiled first and then baked. It's enough for our purposes to say that they're made with a normal bread dough: strong white flour, yeast, salt and water. I added a little sugar to sweeten the dough slightly.
Let the dough rise, knead it, and then you can shape it into bagels. Let these rise for another 45 minutes or so.
Carefully poach them for about 1 minute on each side. You'll have to do this in batches - make sure you allow space for them to puff up in the water.
Now bake them in a hot oven until they begin to turn a golden brown on top. I brushed them with an egg wash before baking them - you could also sprinkle some poppy seeds on them at this point.
The finished product, with some other bread rolls I made.
Served with cream cheese.