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Spelt and poppy-seed bagels with sugar-cured mackerel and mustard

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for spelt and poppy-seed bagels with sugar-cured mackerel and mustard.

By George Biron
  • 1 hr 30 mins preparation
  • 30 mins cooking plus curing, resting, proving
  • Serves 10
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Spelt and poppy-seed bagels with sugar-cured mackerel and mustard
“The characteristic chewy, dense texture of bagels comes from blanching them in sweetened water before baking,” says Biron. “The spelt adds texture and also gives a deep flavour. Resting the dough makes the kneading a lot easier and dramatically improves the structure of the bread. Professional bakers call this step ‘autolyse’: you can use this technique for all breadmaking.” You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead. Bagels are best eaten the day they’re made.


  • 250 gm white sugar
  • For scattering: poppy seeds
  • 150 gm good-quality mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 150 gm (6 cups, loosely packed) spicy salad greens, such as mustard greens, watercress and wild rocket, to serve
Sugar-cured mackerel
  • 100 gm coffee sugar crystals
  • 100 gm coarse cooking salt
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 500 gm skinless Spanish mackerel fillet, bones removed
  • 20 ml vodka
Bagel dough
  • 400 gm (2 2/3 cups) “00” flour
  • 100 gm (2/3 cup) white spelt flour
  • 10 gm (2 tsp) fine sea salt
  • ½ sachet dried yeast


  • 1
    For sugar-cured mackerel, combine sugar, salt, dill and mustard in a bowl, spread half over the base of a shallow tray and place mackerel on top. Spread mackerel with remaining salt mixture, cover tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate until lightly cured (18 hours). Drain mackerel (reserve 1 tbsp curing liquid), rinse quickly in cold water, pat dry with absorbent paper, transfer to a plate, brush with vodka and refrigerate until required.
  • 2
    For bagel dough, mix flours, salt and yeast in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add 600ml warm water and knead until a stiff dough forms (1-2 minutes), then stand to rest (10 minutes). Repeat kneading and resting four times, then cover dough with a tea towel and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1¼ hours-1¾ hours). Gently knock back dough, divide into 10 pieces, roll each piece into a small ball and poke a hole in the middle of each with a floured finger to form a ring. Place 10 11cm squares of baking paper onto two large oven trays and place each bagel on a square. Spray with a little water and stand in a warm place until each bagel is 1½ times its original size (30-40 minutes).
  • 3
    Meanwhile, bring sugar and 5 litres water to the simmer in a large wide saucepan over high heat.
  • 4
    Preheat oven to 200C. Carefully slide bagels with paper attached into sweetened water in batches, and simmer, turning occasionally, until blanched (2 minutes; remove papers from water and place in a single layer on two large oven trays, leaving space between each). Remove bagels with a slotted spoon and place each bagel on a square of reserved paper. Bake until light golden (13-15 minutes), spray with a little water, scatter with poppy seeds and bake until golden and cooked through (5 minutes). Cool on a wire rack.
  • 5
    Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, mustard and reserved curing liquid in a large bowl until smooth, season to taste, add salad leaves and toss to combine.
  • 6
    Just before serving, pre-heat a char-grill pan over high heat and grill cured mackerel, turning once, until just turning opaque on outside edges (20 seconds each side). Thinly slice. Halve bagels, fill with salad leaves and warm mackerel and serve.


This recipe is from the March 2012 issue of . Drink suggestion by George Biron

  • Author: George Biron