Ah the bagel. Classic breakfast fare, good fresh out of the oven, or toasted a few days later. Smeared with cream cheese, slathered in butter, piled high with smoked salmon or stuffed with crispy bacon, creamy eggs and sharp cheddar for the on the go BEC sando, even topped with classic marinara and cheese! The options are endless. First things first though, it has to start with that delicious dough, so here is our take on how to make fluffy, chewy, hit the spot New York’ish style bagels.
What happens when a Jewish girl from the Philly Main Line and a boy from pretty much middle of nowhere New York meet up? Well first, you get our epic adventure around the world of course. But, after all of that fanfare and excitement die down and life returns to a semi normal state, you get some great food being made and bagels turned out to be one of them, especially after COVID hit and we couldn’t make it to the bakery! Where Julie grew up, it was easy to get real, fresh, bagels. She grew up on the classic Philly bagel from Delancey St Bagels, just a short drive from her house in Wynnewood PA. It was a staple in her household, usually topped with whitefish salad and cream cheese, or lox, tomato and onion. Dean on the other hand…there weren’t many bagel shops in upstate NY! However, some of the best were from the supermarket, a mere 45 minute drive away (!!) that or, of course, pick up some Lenders bagels at the local grocer (yuck!).The good thing about being in extreme upstate NY though was it’s close proximity to Montreal. Growing up in that area meant a trip to Montreal for a baseball game (Go Expos) was fairly easy, just another 45 minutes past the first 45 minute drive to the grocery store, and you would be transported to the home of the Montreal style bagel. What’s the difference between Julie’s Philly style and a Montreal style? A Philly style bagel is pretty close to a NY bagel, big, fluffy and perfectly chewy. The key to making a Montreal style bagel is two things, the slight hint of sweetness from the honey water that is used to boil the bagels and that they are cooked in a wood fired oven. They’re also traditionally a little smaller, and in Dean’s opinion, encrusted in sesame seeds!
Traveling is expensive, so we always look for ways to cut costs and you know what for some reason costs a lot? Bagels! Why pay $16 dollars for 12 round dough holes, when you can use $2 and some easily mastered skills to make your own? We thought the same thing, which is what brought us to making our own and is now a process we’ve become addicted to perfecting.
So where do our “New York’ish” bagels come from? A gathering of ideas from the classic thick chewy NY style bagel, and the slightly sweet, honey boiled Montreal style. The bagels we’ve created are big, fluffy, slightly sweet and have a good chew to them! The best of both worlds! We hope you like them as much as we do!
New York-ish Style Bagels
Makes 12 bagels
Active Prep time- 20 minutes
Inactive prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time- 20-25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes
*This time is using a stand mixer, if mixing by hand, add 15 minutes.
-900 grams (about 7 cups) strong bread or high gluten flour (you can use All purpose flour in these, but you will not get as chewy of a bagel)
– 14 grams (2 packets) instant dry yeast *see note
– 40 grams (2 Tb) granulated sugar
– 600 ml (20 oz) cool water +/-
– 1 Tb kosher/sea salt
– Seasonings for the top- sesame seeds, everything seasoning, flake salt, chopped onion flakes, minced garlic etc.
*If using active dry yeast- use warm tap water and dissolve the sugar in the water, sprinkle the yeast on top and let it rest for 10 minutes before starting the rest of the recipe.
Let’s get them prepped. shaped, rested and boiled!
Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer, and fitted with a dough hook. Turn the mixer on speed 2, and start to stream the water in. —Important! The amount of water that you need to add will vary. The age, and the moisture content of the flour play a factor, as does the humidity in the air. We have made these many times, and the amount of water always varies.—
When adding the water, make sure that the dough picks up all of the flour, it should be slightly tacky, not dry, but not a moist loose mass. See the photos to get an understanding of of how it should look. We like to take the dough out of the mixer and do some hand kneading too. To do this, take the dough and push it out forward, then, fold the dough back up on itself and repeat. Turn it 90 degrees and repeat. We do about 5 minutes of hand kneading, this will help to create that chewiness by developing the gluten, and why it is best to use a high gluten or bread flour.
After the dough has formed, we like to weigh it out to see how much the total is, that way you can cut to get even sized bagels. You don’t need to do this step and be as precise, but you do want consistency when baking, so try to keep them close in size.
After cutting your large dough into 12 even chunks, you will want to form each piece into a round ball. To do this, place the dough balls on an unfloured (yes, unfloured!) surface. Start by rolling the dough with an open palmed hand in a clockwise manor, as you do this, gently start to close your palm around the dough ball, do this until you get a nice round ball. This helps to compact the crumb and helps to form a nice shape.
Next up, form the famous hole. Start by pinching the dough in the center between your thumb and pointer finger, as you do this, gently start to punch through, and then very gently tug until you get a big hole, about 1.5” wide. This may seem like a big hole, but the bagel will grow, so don’t worry.
Now, time to let these beauties rest. Make sure that your counter has a nice dusting of flour under the bagels, and cover with oiled plastic wrap. You can use a moist tea towel, but sometimes this will create patterns or deflate the bagels. They will normally rest for an hour, but that will depend on the temperature and humidity, they should double in size.
After 35 minutes, check on your dough babies. This is also a good time to get your water boiling for the honey bath. We use a 10 qt pot that you might use to cook pasta in, filled with about 6 quarts of water, with 3 Tb of honey added. You will also want to preheat your oven to 425 degrees now.
Now, it should have been about an hour and your bagels should be nice and plump and your water should be boiling and your oven heated. Time to set up your topping stations. Which ever you want, put in a small plate that will easily allow pickup of a hot moist bagel. Next to that, put 2 sheet pans lined with parchment or silicone.
Very carefully pick up a bagel and drop it gently into the boiling water. You should be able to get 2 or 3 in at a time. Let the first side bob around for 1 minute, then using a spoon, gently flip them over and cook for an additional minute. Using a slotted spoon, take the bagel out of the water, being careful not to carry too much excess water with it (drop the pretty side down into your topping if using – we like to pick it up and roll the sides too!) then place on the sheet pan. Repeat until you have given all of the bagels their honey bath.
Now, time to bake!
Place the pans in your oven, set a timer for 12 minutes, and relax. At the 12 minute mark, rotate the pans and set your timer for an additional 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, check your golden beauties. If they are not golden brown yet, let them go another 5 minutes. As soon as their ready, we like to put them on a cooling rack as soon as they’re out of the oven to stop the cooking as they’ll continue if you just leave them on the hot sheet pans.
That’s it! If you can’t wait to try one, tear into it while it’s still nice and warm! These will keep for about 12 hours at room temp uncovered. If you want to keep them out, we recommend putting them in zip top bags for up to 2 days maximum. If you only go through one a day (like us!) they stay great in the freezer in a freezer bag for up to a month but make sure they cool completely before putting them in any sort of closed container like a bread box or ziplock bag.