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Posts Tagged ‘flour’

Bagels! Wait, what?

October 14, 2009  |  Recipes  |  3 comments

So bagels are obviously not a Senegalese staple. And in fact, none of the ingredients in bagels are typically Senegalese either. So why provide a recipe for them here? In this case, it was simply the context of making them in Senegal that made them notable. The hunt for high gluten flour (unsuccessful), the little tin-box oven (well-loved), and the friends running into the kitchen to add toppings as they came out of the boiling water. I like to think they were the first bagels made in Ngaparou.

I had made bagels enough times before moving to Senegal that I had my own recipe, but I had not thought to try making them there until a friend downtown made some. Then I needed to prove that the Yoff contingent could make bagels too. Even if they accidentally bought flour with seeds and nuts in it.


  • 5 cups bread flour. Or farine pour pain multi-céréales from the shell station, whatever you can manage
  • 1 tbsp yeast. Or some near-random number of European yeast packets.
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp molasses. Good luck finding it. Maybe some brown sugar? Or gray sugar from the boutique!
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1tbsp Ninal. (okay, actually I used olive oil. But Ninal would work!)
  • 1.5 cups warm water. Thanks to a friend for providing an electric kettle.
  • At least two additional people to help decide on toppings and make their own flavors.

Add the yeast to the warm water in a big bowl or pot, whatever you have available. Give it a few minutes to dissolve and hopefully start to bubble at least a little. Look doubtfully at it, and try to decipher an expiration date on the package you bought at the gas station, then decide you’re going to go ahead anyway.

Add all the rest of the ingredients, except for the flour, and mix. Now add all the flour. The dough will be pretty tough, but don’t worry, you only have to knead it for about 20 minutes. As long as it is not October, you will almost definitely survive. And if it is October, why on earth would you consider using an oven in Senegal? Cover the dough and let it sit for 15 minutes, then cut it into 10 equal portions and give it another 15 minute rest.

Now it is time to shape the bagels!  Roll each piece until it is about ten inches long, then curl it into a loop and roll the ends together. Once again, these are going to need to rest, but this time you can keep yourself busy by preheating the oven as high as it will go, and putting a big pot of salted water on the stove to boil. That is, if your stove can manage both the oven and a burner at the same time. Ours could! (Though barely.)

After the bagels have rested (and hopefully risen, if the yeast was inded alive) for 30 minutes, it is time for a quick bath. But before htey go into the water, you will want to set up a plate covered with the toppings you want (sesame seeds, salt, pepper, mutton, etc). This is where you can get some friends involved.

Boil the bagels, two or three at a time, for one minute, then flip them over and give them another 40 seconds. Plop them out, still wet, onto the plates of toppings, which will stick to the wet surface. Then pick them back up and put them on the baking sheet, topping side up.

Turn your oven back down to something reasonable, like 450 Fahrenheit (20 deciliters in metric. I’m kidding of course, but it’s not so important. Our oven had a very loose interpretation of temperatures. Just set it to the highest setting that is actually labeled.) and bake for about 18 minutes, or until golden brown.