With all due respect, Montreal has the best bagels that I’ve ever eaten. Ever. Hands-down. No contest. We always leave Montreal with at least a dozen ready for the freezer as well as a few for the ride home.
Basically, bagel worshippers fall into two very loyal schools regarding which of two Montreal bagel bakers makes the best. My personal favorite is from St. Viateur on the Plateau; however the “other” bagel bakery, Fairmount Bagels, also makes a great Montreal-style bagel.
There is a subtle sweetness to Montreal bagels which comes from malt or other sweeteners in both the dough and the water. The bagels themselves are much less dough-dense than the supermarket or bakery bagels one finds here in New England, and for me, that makes them enjoyable. For purists looking for malt, King Arthur Flour and/or a local beer making supplier should be able to help out.
Since, for the moment, a trip to Montreal is not in our future, I set out to find an authentic Montreal bagel recipe, and thanks to the MTL Blog, found this one on a great Montreal food blog called “My Second Breakfast“. Sami Berger, who write a regular food blog here, suggests at the outset that one can either make the bagels large (yield 12) or smaller (yield 15), but I would suggest that dividing the dough into 18 knobs (yield 18) is just about right for a Montreal sized bagel. The process – start to finish is about 90 minutes.
My Second Breakfast’s Montreal Bagels
Adapted from bigoven.com
- 1-1/2 cups warm water
- 5 TBSP granulated sugar
- 3 TBSP canola oil (I substituted coconut oil, melted)
- 8 grams active dry yeast
- 2 large eggs, divided (1 for the dough, 1 for the egg wash)
- 1 TBSP maple syrup
- 4 to 4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup poppy seeds OR sesame seeds
- 16 cups water
- 1/3 cup honey
- (for chocolate bagels, add 1/2 cup of chopped dark chocolate or chips) – I love chocolate, but wouldn’t think of doing this to a bagel!
- In a large bowl (I used my mixer and a whisk for steps 1 and 2), whisk together the
warm water, sugar, oil,yeast, egg and syrup Combine until the yeast dissolves.
- Stir in salt and 1 cup of the flour.
- (Now using the mixer’s bread dough hook), add enough flour to make a shaggy, soft dough – about another 3 cups.
- Knead the dough (yes, on the machine!) for about 12 minutes, adding flour as you go (I ended up needing an additional cup of flour, but baking day was a high-humidity day). If you are adding chocolate or raisins, knead in the chunks at the last minute (don’t do that with a machine!).
- Once the dough is smooth and firm, flour the countertop and cover the dough with an inverted bowl. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into (12/15/18) pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-10 inch rope, then curve each on pressing together the ends to make a bagel shape. Make SURE the ends are firmly stuck together at this point or they will come apart in the boiling process. Note that the bagels will look pretty deformed and the holes will be very big – not to worry!
- Let the shaped dough rest for 30 minutes. About 5 minutes before the dough has finished rising, fill a large pot with water (16 cups) and stir in the honey. Bring that to a boil.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Boil the bagels by placing them in the pot, 3 or 4 at a time – you don’t want the bagels to be over crowded. Boil for 45 seconds on each side (90 seconds total). Remove and let the water drain off onto a clean towel or paper towel.
- Whisk the egg in a small bowl and set the seeds on a small plate.
- Dip the boiled bagels first in egg wash and then coat both sides in seeds. Note that the bagels will tend to get very dark in the areas without seeds so if you plan to leave any “plain” you’ll need to watch them carefully.
- Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes (they should be starting to get golden brown on the side touching the baking tray), then flip and bake another 6-8 minutes until completely lightly golden brown.
- Cool the bagels on a cooling rack.
- Once complete cool, store in a freezer bag for a few days.