I bake bread fervently for two reasons. One. To have control over the ingredients that goes into mine, that means no artificial flavors or unfamiliar additives that I can’t pronounce. Two. To avoid packaging, especially the plastic ones from commercial bakeries. I have taken an extra step to buy as many ingredients as possible without packaging by sourcing them from dry goods stores at wet markets. I am so glad that I have found plain flour, sold in bulk. Being the main ingredient of bread, that’s a lot of plastic bags avoided, but there is still no avail for wholemeal flour.
I am not a great fan of bagels but I am intrigued by that overlapping end that gives bagel its signature handmade look. Some recipes suggest simply poking a hole through a dough ball and shape it further like a donut. I found the method of flattening one end of a cylindrically shaped dough and wrap this end around the other end most useful. For more shaping techniques, check out here and here. The method I adopted is demonstrated with photos in the recipe section.
After proofing, the size of the hole became smaller as the dough expanded. It was reduced further to resemble a belly button after boiling in water before baking.
I boiled these bagels in a small pot of water with honey added to get these golden brown effect after baking. As this recipe yields 6 bagels, I boiled them one by one for 1 minute on each side, so that I won’t waste a big pot of water as well as honey, which is expensive. Alternatively, cheaper malt syrup can be used.
Natural Starter Taro Chia Seed Bagel
160g fed starter 200g plain flour 100g steamed taro, mashed 3 tablespoon milk powder 45g water 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 30g cold butter, cubed 1 tablespoon chia seeds
In a mixer bowl, add fed starter, plain flour, cooled mashed taro, milk powder, and water. Start mixer to knead on its lowest speed with a dough hook until all the ingredients come into a ball. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid better.
After 15 minutes, sprinkle the sea salt on the dough and start the mixer again to knead for 1-2 minutes before adding cubed butter one by one. Knead until the dough reaches window pane stage. Add chia seeds to incorporate. Stop mixer and leave the dough in the covered mixer bowl to bulk rise at room temperature for 120 – 150 minutes, until the dough expands and passes the poke test, a sure sign that the first fermentation stage is completed.
After the dough has risen to double its volume, punch down the dough to deflate and transfer to a clean worktop. Sprinkle worktop and palms with flour if the dough is too sticky to handle. Divide the dough into 6 portions, mine’s around 100g each.
Take one of the dough and roll it on the worktop to get a cylinder shape, about 30cm long. Using a roller pin, flatten about 5 cm of one end, then join the two ends to make a loop with the dough and overlay the flatten end to wrap the other end.
Arrange on a baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls. Proof these for an hour.
Fill up 3/4 pot with water, I used my smallest 16 cm diameter one to save water, and add 1 tablespoon of honey. Bring the water to boil. Gently pick up a bagel dough, and transfer it into the pot of boiling water, with its top side facing down. After 1 minute, flip the bagel and continue to cook for a further 1 minute. Remove the cooked bagel from the pot, and drain on a sieve, before arranging it on a baking pan.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 8 minutes. Turn the tray and bake for a further 7-8 minutes till the surface turns golden brown.