Italian style bagels - Friselle

The Italian style bagels are typical for Southern Italy, especially Puglia. It is believed that it was durable dry bread that the crusaders carried along, as it would not spoil. It was also common for fishermen to take Friselle on their boats and moisten them with sea water before serving.

INGREDIENTS

1kg/2lb whole wheat flour

50g/1.8oz fresh yeast

Water

¼ tsp. salt


Friselle are served with variety of toppings, just like bruschetta. The most traditional way to serve the bagels in Puglia would be with olive oil, tomatoes and anchovies. It can be moistened with water, but also with wine or tomato juice. Really enjoyable!


Cooking instructions:

Take the yeast out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Then dissolve the yeast in ½ cup of warm water. Add two tablespoons of flour, stir, cover and leave the yeast on top of a warm stove to prove for another 20-30 minutes.

Using a mixer with a dough hook (or by hand) combine the flour with the proven yeast mixture. Keep adding warm water until the dough holds together – about 1-1 ½ cup. Knead for 15-20 minutes until the dough is smooth. I prefer to add more water to make the dough moist and easier for kneading. Then when I am done kneading, I add some plain white flour until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl (about ¼ cup).

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave it in a warm place to rise, for at least an hour.

After that time, divide the dough into 6 or more even pieces. On a floured surface roll each piece to stretch until about 30cm/11in long; then form bagels. Leave the bagels on a wooden board covered with a clean kitchen cloth for another 60 minutes. Keep the area warm.

When the bagel circles rise and thicken, transfer a few at a time onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in 200°C/390°F oven for 15 minutes.

Then hold each bagel with a clean kitchen cloth and cut with a sharp knife in half. Lower the heat to 170°C/340°F and bake the halves for 30 minutes.

After that time, lower the heat again to 140°C/280°F and continue drying the bagels for another 30 minutes.

Leave the bagels to cool. Store wrapped in wax paper for up to six months.


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