Montreal Bagels

Bagels is what the kids and I make when we feel homesick. Montreal being our hometown, we have a thing for bagels. My five year old son was basically raised in expatriation, first in the Middle East and then in Africa and yet he is probably the most fervent fan of the Canadian breakfast institution also known as Tim Hortons. I am not really a donut lover but a toasted bagel with cream cheese on Sunday morning in January, when the thermometer easily hits the surreal but very much possible -40C, is a real treat. This bagel recipe will give you a quite authentic Montreal bagel shop taste. The secret is in the dense dough (don’t be tempted to add more water that the recipe calls for) and the sugar water bath you offer to the bagels before baking them. Enjoy!

Yields 12 big bagels

1 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/2 Tbs honey
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs salt
2 Tbs sugar
sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds

Make the dough: Combine the lukewarm water and the dry yeast in the bowl of an electrical mixer fitter with a dough hook, add the honey and let it sit for 5 minutes until bubbly. Add the flour, oil and salt and knead for about 10-12 minutes allowing the dough to rest for 30 seconds every 3 minutes. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, it should increase in volume by 50%.

Parboil: Sprinkle an even layer of corn meal over a large baking sheet and set aside. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, punch the air down and cut it in 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball, then punch a hole in the middle with your thumb and shape the bagels using your index finger and your thumb. Line them in the baking sheets 1 inch apart, cover them with a kitchen towel and let the bagels rise a second time in a warm place for 45-60 more minutes.

Preheat the oven to 210C/425F.

Bake: Brush with oil and sprinkle with flour a large baking sheet. Bring about 4 inches of water to boil in a large saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of sugar. Parboil the bagels for 30 seconds per side 2 to 3 of them at a time. Drain them very well and line them in the baking sheet. Sprinkle with seeds while the bagels are still wet and bake them in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes.

Serve the bagels toasted with cream cheese and smoked salmon.


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