Montreal Bagels @ The Geeks Recipe Database
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Montreal Bagels

As the boiling and baking of bagels is a bit of a procedure, it is best to have all equipment at hand . When ready to begin, have a slotted spoon and baking peel (or a baking sheet to use as a peel) at the ready. Put the sesame seeds or poppy seeds on a large, shallow dish, and have a cooling rack nearby.

Ingredients for dough
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons wheat malt syrup (see note)
1/2 cup warm water
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
About 4 cups all-purpose flour

Ingredients for shaping and toping
3 tablespoons honey
About 1 cup hulled sesame seeds or black poppy seeds or some of each

Cooking Instructions

In a medium bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, dissolve the sugar in the lukewarm water. Stir in the yeast. In a small bowl, dissolve the wheat malt syrup into the 1/2 cup warm water. Stir in the egg, oil, and salt. Set aside.

If proceeding by hand, add 1 cup of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the wheat malt mixture and then 2 more cups of flour and stir, always in the same direction, until a smooth dough forms. It will be quite moist. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour and stir to incorporate. The dough will be quite stiff. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic.

If using a stand mixer, add 2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture and mix on low speed for about 1 minute. Add the wheat malt mixture and the remaining 2 cups of flour, and stir on the lowest speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead briefly, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a clean medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in volume and is soft. Punch down the dough gently, recover and let rise for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

If you have one, place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tile (see note) on a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat oven to 450F (230C).

Cut the dough into quarters, working with one piece at a time and covering the remaining in plastic wrap. Divide the piece of dough into 6 equal pieces (weighing approximately 2 ounces each). Roll each small piece out into a skinny rope, around 10 to 12 inches long. Press down on the rope, rolling it back and forth under your palms against the work surface, pushing out and gently towards the ends. The dough is very elastic, shrinking back if overworked. It is easiest to work two ropes at a time, alternating between the two and allow each to rest in between.

When the rope is to the appropriate length, lay the dough over one hand, with one end across your palm and the other hanging free. Bring this second end across the back of your hand to form a loop, and bring the two ends together, overlapping by about an inch. Pinch the ends together, then bring them down under your hand against the work surface, rolling them together gently. Place bagel on a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat the process with the remaining 5 pieces of dough. Cover with a cotton cloth and let stand for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 8 cups of water to a gentle boil in a wide 4-to-6-quart pot. Add the honey and stir to dissolve. Gently slide 3 bagels into the boiling water; they may sink for a moment, but should break the surface within 10 seconds. Use the back of the slotted spoon to gently press the bagels back under the water now and again, letting them boil for a total of 45 seconds. The should be slightly puffed. Remove the bagels using the slotted spoon and move them directly to the sesame or poppy seeds. Roll and press the bagels into the seeds, coating well, then place them on your baking peel or a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch between them. Repeat the process with the remaining 3, placing them beside the first 3.

Bake for about 8 minutes on the baking stone or parchment-lined baking sheet, then use a long-handled spatula to turn them over and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes, until golden brown.

As soon as you put the bagels in to bake, start shaping the next batch of 6. Remove the baked bagels from the oven to a cooling rack, allow the stone to recover for a couple of minutes, then bake the second batch. Repeat until all of the bagels have been shaped, boiled and baked.

Makes 24. Best eaten the day they are made, or can be split and frozen in a well-sealed freezer bag.


I do deviate from Alford and Duguid's direction regarding size, upsizing their bagels slightly from (when raw) 1 1/2 ounces to 2 full ounces. To follow their lead, cut the quarters of dough into 8 pieces instead of 6, resulting in 32 finished bagels.
For those who do not have a baking stone, I remembered a tip from ages ago regarding the use of cast iron pans for pizzas. I tried the method, using my basic 10-inch skillet, to particularly fine results. Michael Ruhlman suggests inverting the pan, but I didn't. A flat top cast-iron griddle would be ideal.
Wheat malt syrup is a grain product used in bread dough to assist in rising and to develop a deeper, more complex taste. Wheat malt syrup is available at specialty and natural food stores.
A thorough discussion of Montreal's bagels can be found at Tasting Menu.

by Hogan
Montreal Bagels
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