In your opinion, what is the best bagel? The New York bagel or the Montreal bagel? I’ll admit that it is a very subjective question.
Everyone has their preference and opinion on the topic. Also, as I have family in Montreal, I particularly like the Montreal bagel of St-Viateur. I love its malt syrup flavored crumb. But above all, I like to taste it just as it comes out of the oven, with its warm smell of grilled sesame, still warm in its brown paper bag.
These ring shaped buns that are covered with sesame seeds were introduced for the first time in Montreal by Isadora Shlafman in 1919. To date, two brands compete for the title of “best bagel in Montreal.” The first, Fairmount Bagel, founded by Isadore Shlafman himself, is the oldest bagel factory in Montreal. It is open 24/7.
The other temple of bagel, St-Viateur Bagel, was founded in 1957 by Hyman Selikman & Meyer Lewkowicz. Since then, Italian Joe Morena took over and perpetuates the traditional recipe of the famous Eastern European bagel.
Montreal bagel vs. New York bagel
The Montreal and New York bagels both follow the same rules below:
– They are ring-shaped buns
– The dough contains barley malt syrup and may contain eggs
– Bagels are poached in boiling water before being baked in the oven
– Bagels are traditionally cooked over a wood fire
The difference between these two breads lies mainly in the taste and texture. The New York bagel contains more salt. Also, it has a more puffed appearance and it is crisper than the Montreal bagel. The crumb is also more airy.
The Montreal bagel, however, is smaller. Its crumb is sweet, flavored with malt syrup and contains less salt. The hole in the middle of the roll is bigger. It is covered with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Also, the Montreal bagel has a denser texture and is more chewy than its New York rival. It is often accompanied with cream cheese or salmon cream, and is a must for Sunday brunch. Its sweeter taste is accentuated by the presence of honey in the cooking water during the poaching phase as described by Mike in his bagel post.
Now, let’s get to the recipe!
- 8 cups bread flour
- 3 tablespoons dry yeast
- 2 eggs , beaten
- ½ cup barley malt syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2¾ cups warm water
- Sesame seeds (for sprinkling)
- Poppy seeds (for sprinkling)
- 1 large pot filled with water
- ½ cup honey
In a large bowl, mix the flour and yeast. Set aside.
Add beaten eggs, salt, sugar, vegetable oil and malt syrup in the warm water.
Incorporate the liquid ingredients to the flour and yeast. Place your hands on the sides of the bowl and fold the dough toward the center about 40 times. The dough will be sticky.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature, away from drafts for 2 hours, until it doubles in volume and has an elastic texture.
Grease your hands with oil and shape the bagels. Proceed the same way for shaping the 16 bagels.
Lined baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the bagels on the sheets, spacing them well as they will expand when cooked. Cover the bagels with a damp clean cloth and let rise at room temperature for 1h30.
Preheat oven to 450 F and place on bottom rack of a broiler pan filled with water. Meanwhile, heat the pot with water and honey.
Using a slotted spoon, place the bagels in the water and poach them for 1 minute per side (not more than two minutes). Drain bagels and place them back on the prepared baking sheets, always spacing them. Generously sprinkle bagels with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
Bake bagels for 15 to 17 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Cool the bagels on a cooling rack.