When most people think of bagels, New York tends to spring to mind, but New York isn’t the only place that’s famous for their bagels. If you head on over to Montreal, you’ll find handmade, wood-fired baked bagels in just about every bagel joint. But don’t for one second think that you’re going to get anything that resembles those large chewy bagels that New York seems to be so well known for. Montreal has put their own distinctive spin on things and if you’ve ever had one of their bagels, you’ll know exactly what I mean in regards to the differing flavors and texture. They’re just, well, better. That’s right, you heard me, I think Montreal bagels are better than New York. You might feel otherwise but when it comes down to it, I like my bagels dense, like really dense, and sweet, plus the hint of smokiness from the wood-fired ovens they use doesn’t hurt either.
Montreal bagels tend to be made smaller than the average bagel and are much sweeter as honey is typical added to the water before boiling. I love their dense chewy interior, so much so that it’s kind of hard to stop at just one…what can I say? I love me some carby goodness! Nicely toasted with a bit of margarine or Tofutti, mmmmmm, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.
I can’t really vouch for how authentic this recipe is, as it was based off of one I found on The Fresh Loaf but they turned out great! That’s not to say that I didn’t have any mess-ups along the way. My bagels turned out a tad more big and fluffy than anticipated due to my inability to focus on more than one thing at a time. When you take the bagels out of the fridge, you’re supposed to let them rest just long enough to take the chill off but don’t let them rise. I of course figured this was a good a time as any to start yacking away on the phone and completely forgot about my poor little bagels until I spotted them slowly bubbling larger and larger. Lesson learned, never walk away from something without setting a timer.
If you don’t completely forget your making bagels in the middle of making bagels, you should wind up with irresistibly dense, lightly sweetened bagels that are just asking to be gobbled up. Like most things, they’re best eaten within the first few days, unless you’re into consuming bagel-shaped hockey pucks.
Montreal Style Bagels
Makes 14 to 16 bagels
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 cups (16 ounces) water
- 1 teaspoon (0.15 ounces) sugar
- 3 tablespoons (2.3 ounces) agave
- 4 teaspoons (0.4 ounces) malt powder
- 1/4 cup (1.85 ounces)unsweetened soy or coconut yogurt
- 3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) vegetable oil
- 6 1/2 – 7 1/2 (32.5-37.5 ounces) cups bread flour
- 3 quarts water
- 1/4 cup malt syrup or agave or 3 tablespoons & 1 teaspoon dry malt extract
- Sesame or poppy seeds for topping
In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together water, 1 teaspoon of sugar and yeast. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes or until the yeast turns creamy. Add the agave, malt powder, yogurt, oil and two cups (10 ounces) of flour to the yeast mixture. Continue adding the flour until a stiff dough forms, if using a stand mixer, change to hand kneading at this point rather than strain the motor of your machine. Continue kneading until dough is soft, supple and the windowpane test can be achieved. When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap.
Let dough rest for 45 minutes. Divide the dough into 14 to 16 pieces. Shape the each piece of dough by rolling each portion into an 8- to 10-inch rope 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. Place the bagels on a lined baking sheet, mist lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight to retard the dough.
The next day, remove the bagels from the fridge and let them come to room temperature. As bagels are warming up, bring a large pot such as a Dutch oven with 3 quarts of water, along with the malt or agave, to a rolling boil.
Preheat oven to 450F. Place sesame or poppy seeds in a nearby bowl.
When the water is boiling, use a slotted spoon, and add the bagels to the water, not so many that you crowd the pot. Boil on one side for 1 minute, turn them over, and let them boil an additional minute before removing them and quickly dipping them in either bowl of the seeds, then placing them on a lined baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Continue boiling the bagels in small batches until all have been boiled and seeded.
Place bagels on the lowest rack in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
Adapted from The Fresh Loaf