Bagels aren't glamorous. You don't peek through a shop window to admire their beauty like you would (I would) an elegant pastry. Bagels are instead a North American phenomenon, satisfying cravings continent-wide with their carby goodness. There are lots of options in the bagel world. Toppings, fillings, toasted, or not toasted. No one bagel is the same, and there are even regional varieties (like wine!). New York-style bagels are chubby little guys that are doughy and soft. Montreal-style bagels have a denser texture and a lovely sweetness. These are my favourite.
Leaving Ottawa last August meant leaving the plethora of easily accessible MTL bagels behind. When I had a hankering, I could pop by Kettleman's Bagels literally 24 hours a day. The dream. Wood-fired bagels galore.
To fill the bagel-sized hole in my heart, I've tried to replicate the Montreal bagels as best I could. They're slightly sweet, chewy, and have a great density to them. This is as close to the real thing as can be replicated in a home baker's kitchen.
A few things are necessary to get the right consistency and flavour. First, use bread flour. Its higher gluten content will give your bagels the chewiness they deserve.
I use both granulated sugar and honey to sweeten these bagels. If you're not a fan of the sweetness, one of these ingredients can be easily reduced.
Baking these bagels is very straightforward. There are two ways to go about it. The very basic way as I've done for this recipe is to bake them on a baking tray in the oven, flipping them halfway through the bake. For the bagel aficionados out there, you can buy or DIY wooden bagel boards that sit on top of a baking stone. If this is your preferred method, by all means!
Adapted from My Second Breakfast
Total active time: 1 hour
Total time before mass consumption: 2 hours
Servings: 12 large bagels
660g bread flour
75g granulated sugar
8g instant yeast
40g canola oil
1 large egg
310g water, between 120°F and 130°F
16 cups water
1/2 cup honey
1 large egg
Tools & equipment
stand mixer, optional
two baking trays, lined with parchment paper or Silpats
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment, add the flour, sugar, salt, honey, canola oil, and egg. Add the yeast so that it is not touching the salt.
- Heat the water to between 120°F and 130°F. Add that to the bowl.
- Mix on low speed for 1 minute, until the ingredients have come together into a doughy mass.
- Increase speed to medium and continue mixing for 12 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Turn the dough out onto your counter and cover with the stand mixer bowl. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal balls. Roll each ball out into a thin rope and join the ends together to make a circle. Make sure the inside hole is large enough so that it doesn't close over when your bagels are proofing!
- Let the rounds rest on parchment paper for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Prepare your egg wash. Add your egg to a large bowl and whisk.
- About 10 minutes before your bagel rounds are proofed, you can prepare your bagel bath!
- In a large stockpot, bring the 16 cups of water and honey to a rolling boil.
- Carefully cook two bagels at a time. Cook each round for 45 seconds, flip, and cook for another 45 seconds. Remove from water and let cool on a cooling rack placed on top of paper towel.
- Once all the bagels have been bathed, dip both sides of each bagel in your egg wash.
- Dip both sides of the egg-washed bagels into either your poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
- Place the dressed bagels on a baking tray with a Silpat or parchment.
- Bake the bagels for 15 minutes. Flip to their other side and continue baking for another 15 minutes. The bagels are done when they're evenly browned.
- Let cool to room temperature.
These bagels can be stored for one day at room temperature but are best stored for up to two months in the freezer. Pre-slice them to make them easier to toast (they toast beautifully!). Defrost them in the oven at 350°F for five minutes.