A trip to the bread aisle of your favourite grocery store is all you need to see that there are a lot of bagels out there, but not all bagels are created equal. Grocery store bagels might be made fresh, but they’re packed with preservatives designed to keep them on the shelf longer, so by the time they end up in your toaster they aren’t going to be as melt-in-your-mouth delicious as if you were to pick one from a bakery.

That’s one of the many reasons why bakery-fresh New York and Montreal bagels are so popular. People will wait in line for the perfect, fresh-out-of-the-oven bagel, and for good reason. They come out hot, chewy, and crispy on the outer edges, and when bagels are like that, anything you put on them is the best thing you’ve ever tasted.

Making your own bagels is definitely more time consuming than if you were to go down to your local store and buy them, but there are quite a few advantages to going through the process. You control the ingredients, so you can make organic bagels without preservatives, and you control what you add in, so if you’d like blueberry bagels with poppy seeds, the sky is the limit.

Last week I posted a few amazing breakfast sandwich recipes and you could use a bagel base for any of them. This week why not try making a breakfast sandwich with your own bagels? Once your kitchen fills up with the heavenly scent of bread baking, you’ll swear it’s worth the effort.

Montreal Bagels

A bagel is a bagel, right? If you asked someone who was up on bagels if a Montreal bagel was the same as a New York bagel, they’d look at you like you were crazy. Montreal bagels are sweeter, thinner, and smaller than New York bagels, and that’s just the beginning of the differences. Take a look at the recipe and you’ll see how they’re sweetened. Photo from Seriouseats.com. Recipe from New York Times.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups water, room temperature
2 packages dry quick-rising yeast (or 1 1/2 ounces fresh yeast)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
¼ cup oil
½ cup honey
5 cups or more flour (preferably bread flour)
3 quarts water for boiling
⅓ cup honey or malt syrup
Sesame or poppy seeds for sprinkling on top

Directions

In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer that has a dough hook, blend together the water, yeast, sugar and salt. Stir in the whole egg, the yolk, oil and 1/2 cup honey, and mix well.

Add the 5 cups flour, and mix until the dough is too stiff to mix by hand. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface (if using electric mixer, attach dough hook), and knead to form a soft, supple dough. Add a bit more flour as needed to prevent dough from getting too sticky.

When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap or with a plastic bag.

  • If not using the dough immediately, refrigerate it after it has been kneaded. Bagel making can be resumed up to a day later. Allow the dough to return to room temperature, and continue with the next step.

Let the dough rest about 20 minutes. Punch it down, and divide into 18 equal portions. You can use an electronic scale to make sure they’re exactly right. Pour the water into a Dutch oven, along with the remaining 1/3 cup honey or malt syrup, and heat to boiling. Cover, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer while preparing the bagels.

Shape the dough portions into bagels or doughnut like rings by elongating each portion into an 8- to 10-inch coil that is 3/4 inch thick. Fold the ends over each other, pressing with the palm of one hand and rolling back and forth gently to seal. This locks the ends together and must be done properly or the bagels will open while being boiled. Let the bagels rest 15 minutes on a towel-lined baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring the water back to a boil and remove the lid. Have bowls of poppy seeds and sesame seeds nearby.

When the water is boiling, use a slotted spoon, and add three bagels to the water. As they rise to the surface, turn them over, and let them boil an additional minute before removing them and quickly dipping them in either bowl of the seeds. Continue boiling the bagels in batches of three until all have been boiled and seeded.

Arrange the boiled bagels on a baking sheet, and bake on the lowest rack of oven until they are medium brown, approximately 25 minutes. Remove from the oven. Once cooled, the bagels can be placed in a plastic bag, sealed and frozen. Slice them up perfectly before serving with a bagel guillotine.

New York Style Bagels

New York and Montreal have had a bagel war going for decades, and the only thing the two have in common is the fact that they’re bread. New York bagels are created in standard ovens where authentic Montreal are made in a wood fire oven. Montreal bagels boil in a bath of honey for sweetness, while New York have salt or malt. Photo and recipe from food.com.

Ingredients:

Sponge

4 cups bread flour
2 12 cups water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
Dough
12 teaspoon instant yeast
3 34 cups bread flour
2 34 teaspoons salt or 1 tablespoon kosher slat
1 tablespoon brown sugar (can use 1/2 T)
Additions
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 eggs or 1 egg white
12 cup cornmeal
12 cup sesame seeds
12 cup poppy seeds

Directions

In a medium/large bowl or pot, stir the sponge together with a whisk or wooden spoon. Make sure to get all dry materials mixed in well.

Cover with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for 2+ hours.

After sponge is bubbly with small holes at the top and about 2 hours have gone by, pour sponge into your mixing bowl.

Attach dough hook. Then add all ingredients listed for dough. Flour can be added gradually as mixer is going.

Knead with dough hook for approximately 10 minutes or until dough looks smooth and is not too sticky. Dough should be quite stiff (add more flour if needed).

Turn out on counter and knead by hand for a few minutes. Make sure dough does not stick to fingers to get to proper consistency.

Divide dough with a knife into 12 equal pieces about 4.5 oz. each. make into “balls”. Cover to rest with plastic wrap for 20 minutes.

Shape each ball into a bagel by pushing your thumb(s) through the middle.

then using your two index fingers in the hole, make fast circular motions, stretching the hole out a bit. Don’t worry if they are not perfect.

Place bagels on sheet pans or cookie sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray oil. Leave an inch or so on all sides.

Let rise under plastic wrap for 20 minutes then place in refrigerator.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

Pull pans from fridge, get a large pot (4 quarts) of water on the boil and preheat the oven to 500 deg. F. move racks to the top of the oven.

Add 1 T. baking soda to water (this increases the color depth and flavor of the bagel while baking).

When water is boiling, pull 2-3 bagels at a time gently and place them upside down in the water.

Boil for 30 seconds then flip over with a large slotted spoon or similar and repeat for other side.

Remove each bagel with spoon and slide off on to a large clean cotton cloth for draining.

Repeat with all other bagels.

Place parchment paper in your sheet pans or cookie sheets.

Spread corn meal evenly and lightly on parchment paper.

Place moist, warm bagels gently on corn meal. You can place them touching one another. Sometimes we like our bagels plain with no toppings, if you do, skip the next couple steps –.

Make an egg wash with 1 egg mixed with approx 1/2 cup of water and when well-mixed, brush across tops of bagels. If you don’t like a slightly eggy taste, you could brush with just egg whites mixed with a bit of water. This will help hold topping on.

Sprinkle with desired toppings.

Turn oven down to 450 deg F. as you place pan(s) in oven.

Bake for 5-7 minutes then turn pan around and switch pans on racks as necessary.

Bake for another 5-10 minutes turning as necessary and repeat this until all bagels are evenly deep golden brown. Total cooking time will be 20-25 minutes until all are evenly deep golden.

Remove from oven, let cool on pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack for at least 15 minutes to cool.

Is making your own bagels labor intensive? You bet, but there’s something theraputic about making your own, and I swear if you try it once you’ll be hooked on the fresh, delicous taste of just-out-of-the-oven bagels.

Here are a few kitchen supplies to get help you on the road to creating perfect bagels:


Slice your bagels up perfectly with a bagel knife

Or make cutting really simple with a bagel guillotine

You’ve worked hard on your bagels. Toast them to perfection with the Cuisinart Toaster