Black Russian bagels

by Matthew Jones, Justin Gellatly & Louise Gellatly

Recipe from new book Baking School: The Bread Ahead Cookbook

We ate these for the first time in a tiny market about an hour’s drive from the outskirts of Moscow—they were filled with smoked fish and fish eggs, sandwiched together with sour cream… wow! They are delicious, especially with a few chilled vodkas.


For the poolish:
2g fresh yeast
50g water
50g rye flour

265g water
5g fresh yeast
220g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
120g rye flour
140g whole wheat flour
100g black treacle
25g cocoa powder
10g fine sea salt
1 tsp caraway seeds
60g caster sugar
Oil, for greasing
Egg white, for brushing

Crunchy sea salt
Poppy seeds
Sesame seeds
Onion flakes
Garlic flakes


Day 1: Make the poolish. Mix the yeast with the water until dissolved, then stir in the rye flour until a thick paste is formed. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

Day 2: Put the water into a large bowl and mix in your poolish, which will be nice and bubbly by now. Add the yeast, flours, treacle, cocoa, salt and seeds, then, with 1 hand shaped like a fork, gently bring together until just combined. Scrape the dough off your hand into the bowl, then take the dough out of the bowl and place on a work surface, making sure you scrape all the dough out with a scraper to leave a clean bowl.

Now, with your dough on the work surface and you poised like a puma, with the heel of your hand push the dough into the work surface and stretch and tear for about 4 mins. Cover and leave to rest for 2 hours.

Once your dough has rested, divide it into 12 pieces (about 80g each) and shape them into loose balls. Cover and leave to relax for 10 mins.

Preheat your oven to 240C. Roll out the pieces of dough to 20-25cm long and shape them into bagels. Place them on a floured tray, cover and leave to prove for 30 mins. Meanwhile, put the sugar into a large heavy-based saucepan with 4 litres of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Line two baking trays with oiled baking paper.

Poaching time: gently lift up each bagel and pop into the simmering water. Don’t crowd the saucepan, do it in batches. Poach your bagels for approx 20 secs on each side, total 40 secs, then place them on the lined baking trays, spacing them out evenly. Brush them with egg white, then sprinkle with sea salt flakes and the rest of your toppings. Bake for 15 mins, until the toppings are all crispy. These make the perfect smoked salmon bagels.

Recipe: Matthew Jones, Justin Gellatly & Louise Gellatly
Image: Issy Croker