Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Bagels

Bagels are one of my favorite foods.  I love the smell, the delicate chewy exterior and soft interior.   So when I moved to London, I was disappointed by the dry, unappealing bagels I found in most shops throughout the city.

I used to travel to Golder’s Green (one of London’s Jewish neighborhoods) for bagels and matzoball soup, but at one point, the Tube station was closed for several months and I didn’t fancy taking 3 buses for bagels.  There is a great bialy place on Brick Lane, but their bagels are lackluster.

So one Friday night after I got off work late at night, husband told me to meet him at Liverpool Station.  I thought we were going to visit his parents for the weekend, but as soon as we arrived at their house, he ushered me into the car and drove to Hainault.  About a block away from our destination, he let the cat out of the bag and smiling widely told me he had found a great bagel place from a colleague at work.

We turned the corner and pulled up in front of a dark bagel shop in a row of closed shops advertising Kosher products.  Alan was irked: his friend had told him the bakery was open until midnight.  I said it’s Friday night; of course it is closed.  He gave me a confused look.  That is when I realized that there really are very few Jewish people in England and that might be why their bagels are so bad.

Since being diagnosed with Celiac, a decent bagel has been one of the things I have really missed.  Glutino bagels are ok, but they take a lot of jaw power to chew through.  Udi’s bagels have great taste and texture, but the options are to limited plain or whole grain, which doesn’t have a ton of fiber and tastes like the plain.

Of all the options on the gluten-free aisle, I can’t find a great multi-grain, sesame or poppy seed bagel.   As with most of my foods, I am obsessed with finding gluten-free products with taste, protein and fiber.

Many of the mass-produced gluten-free products are delicious, but tend to use lower cost, lower fiber / less nutrious flours, such as tapioca, corn, potato and rice starches / flours.  It’s kind of like the Wonder Bread of the gluten-free world.  There are other options to help boost your protein and fiber intake, however, these flours tend to be more expensive (i.e. – quinoa, amaranth, chestnut or almond flours to name a few).

This recipe is easily changed around to accommodate your tastes, cupboard and budget.  I have starred the flours that I think are the most “swappable”.  That is also why I have used both grams and cups for each measurement.  Some of these flours weigh more than others and therefore may dry out the recipe if added just by volume rather than weight.

The starred flours below may be swapped with any of the following (I do not recommend replacing all the different flours with just one kind): amaranth, chickpea, buckwheat, almond, chestnut or brown rice.

Flour blend:

Quinoa*                       1/4 cup or 35 grams

Teff*                             1/4 cup or 40 grams

Millet*                           1/2 cup or 70 grams

Sorghum                      1/2 cup or 60 grams

Tapioca                         1/2 cup or 60 grams

Potato Starch                1/2 cup or 80 grams

Corn Starch                   1/2 cup or 70 grams

Other ingredients:

2 T flax seeds

2 T sugar

1 t salt

2 t guar gum

1 packet dry yeast

2 T molasses

3 large eggs

2 T grapeseed oil (vegetable oil is fine too)

3/4 cup water heated to 110°F / 43°C (a little cooler is ok, but hotter will kill the yeast)

You will also need:

Tapioca flour, about 1/2 cup to dust work surfaces

Water for boiling, about 8 cups or enough to fill a large pot halfway

1 T sugar for the boiling water

1 beaten egg

poppy seeds and flax seeds, about 3 T each (optional)

1. Combine the dry ingredients (flours and other ingredients through and including dry yeast) in the bowl of a stand mixer.

2. In another small bowl, beat together the eggs, molasses and grapeseed oil. The batter should look like this: elastic, smooth and kind of like a cookie batter.

3. Add the egg mixture and water to the dry ingredients.  Start on a low speed to combine and quickly raise the speed to high.  Mix for about 3 minutes until the batter is smooth and elastic.

4. Dust a clean counter with about 1/4 cup tapioca flour.  Pour the batter onto the tapioca flour.  Dust a little more flour on top of the batter.  Coat your hands in flour.  Gently roll the dough into a log.  Cut into 8 pieces.

Use really soft hands for shaping the bagel: the dough is sticky and delicate.  If you over work it, you will end up with a tougher end product.5.One piece at a time, shape the dough into a circle and then poke a hole in the center with your thumb.  Gently massage the opening until you have an opening about 1 inch across.

6. Place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat.  Leave at least 2 inches between each bagel to allow them room to rise.  Cover with a kitchen towel.  Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

7. Position a rack in the center of the oven.  Pre-heat the oven to 425°F / 220°C.

8. Fill a large pot about half full of water.  Boil the water and add the tablespoon of sugar.

9. Boil the bagels, 2-3 at a time (you don’t want to crowd the pot), 2 minutes per side.  Use either chop sticks or a slotted turner to flip / remove from the water. And onto a clean towel to absorb the excess water.  Move quickly back to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper / Silpat.  Left: the bagels after they have risen.  Right: boiling the bagels.

10. Brush each bagel on both sides with the beaten egg.  Sprinkle with the poppy and flax seeds.

Brush with egg regardless of whether or not you want to top with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc.  The egg will help the bagels to brown.11. Bake for 10 minutes.  Flip bagels and reduce heat to 400°F / 200°C.  Bake for another 15 minutes or until the bagels are well-browned.

12. Cool before storing / serving.  These bagels freeze well.

The finished product. Grab some lox, capers and cream cheese!

Finz: a Nice Blend of Traditional and Innovative Seafood

Recently, while cat-sitting my geriatric cat, Husband and I decided to explore dining options on the North Shore.  Being forced to weekend in the hinterlands of Topsfield, we settled on Salem.

Based on Yelp reviews, we decided to try Wharf 62, a trendy restaurant on Pickering Wharf.  I called ahead for reservations.  They said they were booked, but if we got there soon, there were seats at the bar.  By the time we arrived, even the bar was packed.   The wait for a table was at least 45 minutes, so we left in search of an option with a shorter wait time. 

Salem, home of the fabulous Peabody Essex Museum, has undergone a renaissance in recent years.  Salem’s efforts to bring people to town for something other than palm readings and witch trial reenactments have paid off.  There are now a number of non-occult offerings.  When I was in college interning at the PEM, the shops were full of cheap incense and witchy t-shirts.  The restaurants featured fried foods and sandwiches.  Those unique cultural offerings have hardly gone away, but they are now joined by a number of boutiques and restaurants offering a variety of options.

A quick Google search took us down the pier to Finz, a local seafood restaurant.  There was a 20 minute wait, but we were given a buzzer and directed to the bar area.  The bar was full of comfortable sofas in addition to the high tops and bar stools throughout. 

The service in the bar was mediocre; when I asked for a glass of wine and the first two I chose from their menu were not available.  We then had to wait about 10 minutes for my glass of wine and Husband’s lemonade.    

We waited less than the promised 20 minutes, a pleasant surprise. 

The dining area was unremarkable.  Banquettes lined the walls and were supplemented by small tables and wooden chairs.  The tabletops were vaguely sticky, so I was glad for the paper placemats.  The ambiance was very lively and the lighting was low without being dark.  We were seated away from the windows, but being at the end of the pier, I am sure there are many lovely ocean views.

The worst thing about the dining area was how cramped it was.  The tables were so close together I had a hard time getting into my seat.  Going sideways, my legs brushed up against the tables on either side.  Even our waiter commented that he had a hard time providing service to us because of the cramped area. 

This proximity ruined the meal for me, as the party next to us was super obnoxious.  I think the ladies of the party must have lost their senses of smell and hearing.  They had both bathed in a cheap perfume so strong that I nearly choked when they first sat down.  They kept pushing their purses against me and the man with them spent the whole meal screaming about his investment accounts and living in Manhattan. 

While the seating was horrible, the menu was great.  I mentioned my gluten allergy to our waiter and he immediately brought over a gluten-free menu with at least a dozen options on it.  Their gluten-free menu is not on their website. 

I opted for back and white sesame crusted tuna.  Husband went for lobster ravioli. Image

My meal was delicious.  The tuna was perfectly seared and still pink on the inside.  The sesame seeds were perfectly toasted.  The rice was well-cooked and topped with buffalo sauce and shreds of seaweed.  I particularly loved the wasabi crème sauce.  The meal was a nice blend of salty and hot without being overwhelming.  Husband loved his ravioli.  He said it was rich and creamy.  The portions were appropriate, large enough to be satisfying without being overwhelming. 

I would have loved to try one of the gluten-free dessert options, but the uncomfortable dining area left us with an overwhelming desire to leave and pick up something on the way home.

If I do go back to Finz, I think I would be more interested in grabbing some take-out and sitting on one of the benches along the pier. 

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I give Finz 5 stars for their food quality and gluten-free menu.