Not Exactly Southern
Not only is this recipe not Southern, it is only half North American–but it is still very tasty. As usual, it involves a transatlantic dispersal of culture and food.
This is essentially the Canadian version of a Parisian Jewish recipe for water bagels, which means the bagels take a swim in boiling water before baking. Here’s my method for making these.
This makes six extra large bagels, or ten-twelve normal sized ones.
For the Dough:
1 1/2 cup “00” style flour
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 Cup warm Water
Mix these in a stand mixer, or use whatever you have.
2 tablespoons warm Water
1 teaspoons dry Yeast
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
Let the yeast mixture rise until it increases by a factor of three, and then mix with the dough. Let the dough rise until doubled.
This step is where the French and Montreal styles diverge. The traditional French additive is Malt syrup, which was not widely available in Canada. Maple syrup was, and still is. I should learn how to make Poplar syrup one year, and turn this into a Southern bagel.
Forming and Boiling
The home baker’s method of forming bagels is simple. For monster bagels, divide the dough into six pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and then flatten with your palms. I use my thumb to poke a hole in the middle, and then widen out the hole to the desired size. Jo Goldenberg of Jo Rosenberg Restaurant in Paris makes the hole large enough for her palm to fit through. Place the finished bagel on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and let rise while the water heats up to boiling.
Two things are important about the boil: the pan needs to be large enough so the bagels are not crowded, and the bagels need to boil long enough so they will not collapse while baking. I use an enormous fourteen inch skillet for the boil, which is still barely large enough.
For the Boil
Enough water to float the bagels
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
Here is the most important step in the whole process, for which eternal vigilance is needed. As the bagels boil and expand, they will crowd against each other, and one side of a bagel will try and submerge. If you let this happen, that part of the bagel will become inedible soggy pasta bagel. With that said, the bagels should boil at least two minutes on each side. After that, remove the bagels with a slotted spoon, place them back on the parchment paper, and bake at 400 degrees F until light brown. Cool on a rack, and decide if you want cream cheese or a bagel sandwich.
It takes some practice to get this right, but when you do, it’s goodbye supermarket bagel, or even deli bagel. I make these about every two weeks, and they improve just a little with every batch. It’s a stretch to eat just half of one of these, but the dogs love the leftovers as much as we do.