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Bagel delights; Stephen is co-owner and chef at T&Cake Cafe, Almondbury.

Byline: JACKSON Stephen

HAPPY New Year Everybody! Passports at the ready again, folks, as this week, we span the Atlantic with a recipe that combines perhaps the most quintessentially New York-y snack with a side order of pure neo-Nordic cooking.

We are making bagels, and stuffing them with the classic filling of cream cheese and salmon.

Usually one sees the bagel, and especially the classic Jewish New York bagel, filled with smoked salmon, but today we're making a wonderful cured salmon, tinged pink with beetroot, which makes for, as you can see, a most visually arresting bite.

I've been wanting to make these for a couple of years now, always bumping them down the list, but they seem so very appropriate for this time of year. There is nothing quite like the texture of a fresh bagel; it's quite unmistakably bread, but with a unique and delightful chewiness. Served simply, as a bready alternative, dunked in a bowl of soup, they are magic, but they really benefit from being split and toasted, then sandwiched around all manner of fillings, from hams to salamis, crunchy salad leaves or wedges of tasty cheese. Almost anything benefits from the unique chewiness that only a bagel can offer. A bagel bacon butty is very special indeed!

The bagel we're making is the infamous New York classic, the 'Everything Bagel.' .' It's made using the basic recipe, but, in typically brash, 'who gives a damn' New York style, it is then topped with almost everything in the spice cupboard.

Rumour has it that it was invented when an enterprising young baker made use of all the seeds and whatnots that had collected on his work bench whilst making the days various flavours - a combination of flaked onions, garlic powder, sesame, caraway and poppy seeds was mixed together and pressed onto the last batch of bagels of the day.

Instantly they were snapped up by eager customers, and now there isn't a bakery in the city that doesn't offer this overloaded beauty.

It's a wonderful combination of flavours - the deeply savoury onion and garlic, the scented caraway and poppy seeds, and the umami of the sesame. Quite intoxicating.

I'm indebted to the writer Felicity Cloake for the basic dough recipe - I'd never used malt extract before and I must say it gives the finished bagels the most wonderful shine and rich chewy texture that's completely authentic.

You can find malt extract in most health food stores and larger supermarkets these days, and it's well worth trying out. Along with the bagels, to top our traditional 'schmear' of cream cheese, we're curing some salmon.

It's incredibly easy to prepare, and yields slice after slice of delicious fish, with that wonderfully smooth, almost chewy texture that a deep cure provides. Instead of the traditional gravadlaxtype recipe, I've opted for a cure using lots of shredded raw beetroot - it adds a lovely earthy tone that marries up well with the bagels, but also adds a beautiful iridescent purple tinge to the deep orange colour of the salmon.

And if you can find a bottle of aquavit, a frozen shot of this spicy spirit is the perfect Scandinavian accompaniment.

You'll have plenty left over with this recipe, but the cured fish keeps for weeks, and you'll find yourself pinching slice after slice for days afterwards.

It also makes great scrambled eggs and souf-ffles, so well worth making.

'Everything' bagels with beetroot-cured Salmon (makes 12) FOR THE BAGELS: 1 tsp dried yeast 375ml lukewarm water 3 tsp malt extract 750g strong bread flour 2 tsp Maldon salt FOR THE TOPPING: 4 tsp poppy seeds 4 tsp sesame seeds 4 tsp black sesame seeds 4 tsp dried onion flakes, chopped 2 tsp caraway seeds 2 tsp garlic granules 2 tsp Maldon salt FOR THE BEETROOT.CURED SALMON: 700g whole piece of salmon 80g Maldon salt 80g unrefined golden caster sugar The grated zest of an orange 2 tbsps chopped fresh dill 200g raw beetroot, peeled TO SERVE: A large tub of your preferred cream cheese A little fresh dill Frozen aquavit or vodka (optional) METHOD: First, get the salmon curing; clean and pin-bone the salmon, and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Mix the salt, sugar, dill and orange zest in a bowl and spread half of this mixture on a piece of foil.

Place the salmon, skin-side down, onto the salt sugar mixture, and spread the rest of the mix over the salmon, rubbing gently into the flesh. Peel and grate the beetroot using a coarse grater, and spread this over the flesh-side of the salmon, pressing it on firmly. Wrap the salmon tightly in the foil, and then wrap again in another layer, to avoid leaks. Finish with a couple of layers of clingfilm, just to be sure.

Place in the fridge on a tray, and leave to cure for 3 days, turning the parcel over each day. After curing, remove from the packaging and shake off the cure mixture, then rinse the fish, pat dry, and then re-wrap and chill until needed. It will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week.

Now for the bagels; put the dried yeast in a bowl, pour over the water, and add a teaspoon of the malt extract. Stir well, and leave in a warm part of the kitchen for 10-15 minutes until frothy. Stir in the remaining malt extract (too much sweetness initially can prevent yeast from working) and set aside. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl of a mixer, add the yeasty water and mix with the dough hook on low speed for about 5 minutes until it comes together into a firm, smooth dough.

Cover with a teatowel and leave in a warm place for 2 to 2.5 hours or until it has just about doubled in size.

Line two baking sheets with lightly oiled baking parchment. Turn the dough out on to a clean work surface and knead the air out of it. Divide the mixture into balls weighing about 85-90g each.

Roll each ball into a smooth bun shape, then press your finger straight into the middle, working it clear through the underside. Twirl this doughnut-shape a few times round your finger like a hula hoop, until you have a smooth, evenly-shaped ring with a hole about 21/2cm across. Place the bagels on the baking parchment and repeat with the remaining balls. Cover each sheet with lightly-oiled clingfilm and refrigerate for 18-24 hours, which allows a long, cool second rise, then remove from the fridge about half an hour before cooking.

For the topping mixture, toast the sesame seeds, black sesame and caraway in a dry pan until dark and aromatic. Mix the seeds with other topping ingredients and tip into in a wide bowl. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a generous amount of salt. Heat the oven to 240oC / Gas 9. Put a couple of baking trays in to pre-warm. Once the water is boiling, add as many bagels as will fit in one layer to the pan. Boil for 30 seconds, then flip over and boil for another 30 seconds.

Drain on a wire rack and repeat until all the bagels have been boiled. Dunk each damp bagel into the seed mixture, covering one side generously. then put seed-side down on the baking trays. Bake for 7 minutes, then flip over and bake for another 7 minutes or until golden. Cool the bagels on the rack. When you're ready to eat, slice the salmon as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife. Split a bagel, and toast it lightly under the grill if you like. Spread with a thick schmear of cream cheese, top with several slices of salmon, a little fresh dill and a shot of aquavit.
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Article Type:Recipe
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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