adventures in bread-making: sourdough blueberry bagels

blueberry bagels are one of my very favourite treats, especially toasted (and a little cold) with a spread of smooth ricotta and a drizzle of honey or a handful of fresh berries a top.

actually for my 21st birthday I made a stack of blueberry bagels in lieu of a birthday cake and my own fresh ricotta (because it was a breakfast affair, ya know). But something I have always wanted to experiment with is making sourdough blueberry bagels - yesterday I attempted it - and I am pretty pleased with the result. They aren't as high as regular yeast-infused ones, but they are lovely and chewy and malty and delicious.

1 cup of warm milk
3/4 cup 50/50 hydration sourdough starter
1/4 cup warm water
1 heaped tablespoon malt (or molasses)
1/2 teaspooon sea salt
4-5 cups strong flour (I used unbleached wheat, but a mixture of plain/wholemeal or plain/rye would work well)
3/4 cup blueberries (I used frozen ones, thawed to room temp)

Combine the above ingredients in a large bowl and combine using your hands - work into a dough that is smooth, hard and not sticky (you may need to use extra flour, just add a little at a time). Knead on a floured countertop for 10 minutes. Let rest, covered in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and shape dough into about 8 balls (you can make them whatever size you like, but this should make average sized bagels) and let rest for a moment. Shape each ball into a tube by rolling them with your hands and using a little water went the ends so that as you form the classic bagel round they stick together nicely. Lay bagels out on a tray covered with baking paper and let rise at room temperature for 45 minutes. Cover tray with plastic wrap (or a plastic bag works really well) and refridgerate for 4 hours - because its a nice 2'c outside I just put them outside the door!

Preheat your oven to 240'c. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to boiling point and add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and one heaped tablespoon of malt or molasses. Two at a time, boil your bagels in the boiling water for about 40 seconds - 1 minute - they will float to the surface when ready - transfer them one by one using a slotted spoon to drain off excess water onto a baking tray generously dusted with semolina flour. Once all the bagels are boiled, bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden...

p.s.  If you like sugary-topped bagels sprinkle raw sugar over the top before baking...