Bagels are known for their classic, chewy texture and shiny coats. They also need a high GLUTEN flour to create this, so making them gluten-free took a bit of work to create the perfect bagel recipe. After several taste tests, the feedback was positive, although some like them plain or toasted, others like them filled with smoked salmon and copious amount of cream cheese or just with butter. The same applies to the toppings – plain, sesame seeds, nigella seeds, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. So many choices!

Apparently, I am living where the bagel was invented. In 1683, a Jewish baker in Vienna made bagels as a gift to King Jan III Sorbieski of Poland to give him thanks for leading the horses in the Battle of Vienna. The baker based the bagel on the iconic shape of the horse’s stirrups, which are incidentally called Bügel in German. These bagels took Poland by storm and ended up being sold as a staple bread. The bagel hole served its purpose to be easily stacked on sticks or hung by strings while being displayed at shops or street markets.

Eventually, the bagels made their way to New York, Toronto and Montreal where the majority of Polish immigrants moved to, taking their family bagel recipes with them, leaving Poland with virtually no bagel presence. The same has happened in Vienna. There are only a few coffee shops, bakeries and select supermarkets selling bagels. In fact, supermarket bagels are imported from the US.

This recipe is not difficult, but just like any bread-related recipe, it requires patience and planning ahead. Boiling the bagels before baking them and sprinkling them with the seed toppings is quite a satisfying feeling, plus the aroma of them baking is pure heaven!

Gluten-Free Bagels
Ingredients:

For the bagel:

  • 200ml warm water
  • 1 tablespoon dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 450g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly mixed
  • 3 tablespoons thick Greek yoghurt or 5 tablespoons thin yoghurt
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked for topping
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, nigella seeds or poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (optional)

For the fillings:

    • 6-8 smoked salmon slices
    • 1 small tub plain cream cheese or chive cream cheese
    • ½ red onion, sliced in rings
    • 1 tablespoon capers
    • 1 tablespoon creamed horseradish
    • ½ lemon

Or

  • 6-8 Pastrami slices
  • 1 small tub plain cream cheese
  • ½ red onion, sliced in rings
  • A handful of fresh rocket/arugula leaves
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon pickles, chopped

Step by Step Instructions

1. Place water, yeast and honey in a covered bowl in a warm place for 10 minutes to develop.

2. Mix flour, xanthan gum, salt and whole eggs in a medium bowl.

3. Add yeast mixture and yoghurt, mixing well with a wooden spoon.

4. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and place in a warm place for one hour.

5. Knead the dough for 5 minutes and roll into 6 balls weighing approximately 125g each. This method ensures even-looking bagels and baking.

6. Roll the bagel out to 8cm in diameter.

7. Press your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon or in my case, a small rolling pin in the middle of the bagel to form a hole.

8. Using your slightly wet hands, gently mould the bagel into an even round shape and enlarge the hole with your fingers if it appears too small.

9. Space them out on a lined baking tray and cover with a damp tea towel.

10. Leave to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.

11. Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F.
12. In a large pan, fill with boiling water and lower one by one each bagel for about 10 seconds. They should float to the top. Lift off each floating bagel and return to the lined baking tray spacing them 5cm apart.

13. Brush the top of each bagel with the lightly whisked egg white and sprinkle with mixed sesame seeds and nigella seeds. Add other seeds for variety or no seeds at all, depending on your preference.

14. Place a half-filled tray of boiling water at the bottom of the oven to create steam.

15. Bake bagels on the middle shelf for 25 minutes. The bagels should be slightly golden and sound hollow when tapped.

16. Allow to cool completely before slicing in half horizontally with a serrated bread knife.

17. If you like your bagel toasted, now is the time to do that. I usually toast it on the highest setting, but every toaster is different, so keep an eye on the toasting so it doesn’t burn the bagel.

18. Now the fun begins, the fillings! Choose either or both: Classic smoked salmon with plain or chive cream cheese, red onions, capers, horseradish and a squeeze of lemon or Pastrami slices with plain cream cheese, red onion, fresh rocket/arugula leaves, wholegrain mustard and pickles.

Makes 6 large bagels or 12 mini bagels
Alternatively make 12 mini bagels measuring 4cm in diameter. Serve these as party food or as an appetiser.