Recently I decided I wanted to attempt to make bagels. I didn’t know much about bagels, if I’m being honest, just that we were going through a ton of them here. Two older kids who love them, plus a husband who eats them on the weekend, meant we were going through two packages from the store each week. Well, one day we ran out, and I thought, “This is madness, I’m finding a bread machine recipe and making my own.”
Obviously I knew I would have to shape them, and bake them, and boil them. I didn’t know I was about to fall down a rabbit hole of “What makes a good bagel?” articles, and start nodding along with pieces lamenting how Montreal is the only place in Canada to get a decent bagel. I’ve been to Montreal once, and did not eat a bagel there. I’ve never been to NYC either, so, um, Dempster’s is my basis for comparison here, but suddenly I had to make THE PERFECT BAGEL.
What makes a perfect bagel? Opinions are varied, but from what I can gather:
- It needs to have a crispy, not-too-light crust, covered in micro blisters. There is only one way to ensure this, and that is with a boil, followed by a high-temperature bake.
- It must contain barley malt syrup or powder, not sugar. Honey can be substituted here, although there is some disagreement about this from what I read.
- It may be topped with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic and/or onion, kosher salt, or a combination of them. NOTHING ELSE, AND BY GOD DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT PUTTING RAISINS OR JALAPENOS IN A BAGEL!!!!! OK but seriously, some people are very militant about this.
- It must chill overnight, or at least a few hours, in order to properly develop the flavours. I skipped this step a few times, but I must say I prefer the results of the long refrigeration.
After many delicious versions, I have settled on my favourite recipe. It is a bread machine recipe, because ain’t nobody got time for mixing dough, but it’s also traditional in almost every other way. I make eight at a time, and they seem to be very popular with the family. I have only eaten one (the low carb lifestyle has but one drawback) but it was SPECTACULAR. The most delicious bagel I have ever eaten, and that was after it was a day old and toasted, not fresh from the oven.
This is from the most recent batch, with technique and recipe perfected, I feel. Or at least as close as this hobby baker is going to get. I ate this one, and I’m kinda drooling just thinking about it.
Anyway, give it a try! Easier than you might think, and the results are so worth it.