In Germany we have a range of baked goods, of which most of you will know the Brezel, which are going through a brine (= Lauge in German) bath before being baked in the oven, which gives them their distinct brown colouring and particular taste.
So I thought I'd marry up two cultures today introducing the Laugenbagels I make regularly and which are great for savoury toppings of your choice like cheese, salmon, salami, etc.
For 6-8 (depending on how big you make them) you need the following ingredients:
500g plain flour
1 sachet of fast action yeast
300ml lukewarm water
2 tsp of good salt (I use Himalayan pink salt)
1 teaspoon of rapeseed oil
Just mix the ingredients in a plastic or glass bowl and knead into a smooth dough.
This one needs to double in size, so let it rest somewhere warm for at least an hour if not two.
Now knead it thoroughly through again and separate into 6-8 individual pieces (roughly 100g each ), which you roll into a proper round bun on a lightly floured work surface. The fun part is making the hole in the middle, either using your finger poking through or a wooden spoon and then swishing the dough round your finger/the spoon, a bit like an Italian chef does with pizza dough, to ensure the hole stays there as the dough is very keen to stay together.
Leave the raw bagels for at least another 30 mins in a warm place to rest after this treatment.
Heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
This is the special part:
Heat 1.5l water with 75g of Bicarbonate of Soda (do add it in before you bring the water to the boil!!!!) in a wide pot till it boils and reduce the heat so it simmers gently.
Use a slotted spoon to give each bagel (or several if your pot is large enough - but they mustn't touch as otherwise they'll stick together) a 1-2 minute bath in the brine and turn them over 2-3 times so they get even exposure.
After the bath they can be placed straight onto a baking tray and I like to sprinkle mine with sesame seeds as you can see from the pictures, but anything you like goes: poppy seeds, rough sea salt, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
Bake them for about half an hour until nicely browned and cracking open slightly.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
And then - enjoy with the topping that tickles your fancy!
You can also store them either in a plastic bag for up to 3 days or in the freezer, of course, for up to two months.