LEAVE THE FLAT! Let’s talk about bagels

22 November 2021

LEAVE THE FLAT! Let’s talk about bagels

By MaryAnn Miano

In December, real carbohydrate lovers celebrate “Have a Bagel Day! Who doesn’t love the gooey, chewy characteristics of this beloved bread? What does it take to become a bagel-holic? For most of us, it’s with the first bite.

The term “bagels and …” leaves limitless possibilities of what to put on one. Anything you can do with bread, you can do with a bagel. Bagels and lox, bagels and cream cheese, bagels and butter, bagels and peanut butter, bagels and tuna salad, bagels and egg salad, and even bagel pizzas – all satisfying and mouthwatering combinations.

The bagel has its origin in Poland. Its name derives from the Yiddish word “beygel” which means “ring” or “bracelet”. The American bagel industry has its roots in New York City. When Polish Jewish immigrants arrived in the United States, so did the bagel. New York bagels are often considered bagel nirvana and the standard by which all other bagels should be measured. This is mainly due to the high quality of water in New York City which improves the taste and crust of baked goods.

There’s something about a bagel’s special texture (chewy and crisp on the outside, dense but tender and soft on the inside) that is unlike any other type of bread. Everything is better on a bagel. The bagel shops that have popped up everywhere have made the bagel a hugely popular breakfast food. The automated production and distribution of frozen bagels (courtesy of Murray Lender) brought them right to grocery stores across the country, and now everyone knows how delicious they are.

Here’s a recipe that brings New York-style bagels into your home where you can make them yourself. And remember, you can freeze extras to keep them handy.


2 teaspoons of dry yeast

½ teaspoon of sugar

1 ½ cup lukewarm water

4 cups unbleached bread flour

2 teaspoons + pinch of salt

1 rounded tablespoon + 2 teaspoons of malted barley


  1. Place the yeast and sugar in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Add lukewarm water and stir gently to combine. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add the flour, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 large tablespoon of malted barley in a stand mixer fitted with a hook.
  3. Once the yeast-water mixture has started to bubble on top, add it to the blender bowl and start mixing on low speed. When dough begins to form, 3 to 4 minutes, increase speed to medium-low.
  4. Continue to mix for another 5-7 minutes, until the dough is elastic, shiny and dense. Remove from bowl and let stand 1 minute.
  5. Divide the dough into 8-10 small sections. Each section should measure 3 to 4 ounces (use a food scale for accuracy), depending on the size of your bagels.
  6. Roll each section into a ball and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Cover for 10 to 15 minutes.
  1. Shape your bagels: Roll each piece of dough into a 3-4 inch rope, tapering the ends lightly.
  2. One by one, take the ends of the rope and overlap them slightly, pinch and then roll with the palms of your hands. If your shape isn’t quite even, roll the other side of the bagel with your palm inside the middle and gently roll to the desired shape.
  3. Return the rolled bagels to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 12 to 18 hours.
  4. When you are ready to boil and bake, place a pizza stone on the top rack of your oven. Preheat the oven to 500 ° F. Let the pizza stone rest in the hot oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of malted barley and a pinch of salt to the pot.
  6. Don’t start boiling your bagels until your oven is completely preheated, because after the bagels have boiled for 1 to 2 minutes, you want to put the bagels in the oven immediately. Also, don’t take the bagels out of the fridge too early, as they may spill out and lose their shape.
  7. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat slightly so that the boil is vigorous. Add the puffed side of the bagel to the water first (the flattest side should be up). After 30-60 seconds, flip the bagel using a spider-shaped kitchen tool and let sit for another 30-60 seconds.
  8. Using your spider again, remove the bagel from the water, allow excess water to drip into the pan, and place the bagel flat-side down in the oven directly on the heated pizza stone. If you plan to add toppings, add them quickly as you put the bagel in the oven.
  9. After 10 minutes, flip the bagels to the other side.
  10. Bake another 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how crispy you want the outside of your bagel to be. Let cool and serve.

Modern Jewish Baker Recipe by Shannon Sarna

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