New York style bagels have a a shiny crust and a chewy inside. They are flavorful and can be eaten just as they are, without any adornment. BUT a true New Yorker will most likely eat their bagel with a proper ‘schmear’ of cream cheese.
These bagels are the original bagels to be served in the United States. And they are so good that they have become rather famous over the years.
Their roots can be traced back to the Ashkenazi Jews of Poland. So, it is no surprise that they were introduced to New York by the Jewish community of the lower east side.
I’ve had bagels from many different states, and I can confidently testify to the fact that there is not another bagel out there that even begins to compare to the those that come out of the big city. They are special indeed.
There are a few secrets to making these amazing bagels. And we’ll talk cover all of them in just a bit.
But for now, let me just say that if you are unable to get your hands on a New York style bagel then this recipe is just what you need to make the closest thing possible right in your own kitchen.
And if you are able to get New York style bagels where you live, but simply love to recreate specialty foods in your kitchen, then again … this recipe is for you.
Choosing Flour To Make New York Style Bagels
The type of flour you choose for your bagels is very important. It must be a flour with a high protein content, other flours simply don’t make the cut.
The high protein content in the flour is what develops the gluten structure in the dough. And the complex gluten network of the dough is absolutely necessary to achieve the nice, tight crumb that gives this bagel it’s chewy texture.
If you look for a white bread flour on your grocery store shelf, you’ll be all set.
Mixing The Dough For This Recipe
I’m going to warn you right up front that mixing bagel dough without a stand mixer is not a task for the faint of heart.
It is a long and arduous process. It will tire you out and your hands will be sore for days. AND it’s well worth the sacrifice!
If you have a stand mixer then your dough should be done in about 20 minutes, without one it can take twice that long. This is primarily because breaks will be a necessary evil for you.
Taking breaks allows the dough to rest, and that is not something you want to happen. However, it is unlikely that you will be able to push your way through the length of time it will take to get the dough where it needs to be.
So, push on my friend. And just make the very best dough you possible can.
Shaping The Dough For New York Style Bagels
Bagels have holes, and those holes serve more than one purpose.
They are a practical way to thread them onto dowels and display them, as is so often done in city bakeries. This saves a lot of space and is aesthetically pleasing as well.
But, more importantly, bagels have holes in order to create a larger surface area of the dough. This helps them cook evenly. Bagel dough is very thick, and without the hole in the center it would not cook all the way through.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching bagels be produced in a city deli, then you know that they are rolled out into a rope-like strand, looped around the baker’s hand, and sealed together at the ends. This is the proper way to make a New York style bagel.
I plan to work on perfecting this method in the future. My understanding is that, although it sounds like a very easy thing to do, it can be quite tricky.
As I’m just starting to experiment with making bagels I want to keep things pretty simple for myself. So, I’m going to use the home kitchen cheaters technique often referred to as the ‘hole poke’ method for today.
In this method the bagel dough is rolled into a tight little ball, allowed to rest, and then poked in the center with your fingers to create a hole. The hole is enlarged by simply stretching the dough apart.
The trick is to be sure the hole is large enough, as the bagel will swell as it cooks and can potentially close the hole completely.
New York Style Bagels Are Boiled
New York style bagels have a shiny, chewy crust. This crust is produced by boiling the bagel before it is baked.
If you don’t boil the dough before you bake it, you’ll end up with a piece of bagel shaped bread. I quit eating bagels as a go-to breakfast when I was traveling back and forth across the country for this very reason.
Unfortunately, boiling the dough alone will still not produce the signature crust that the big cities bagels are reknown for. There’s a bit more to it than that.
The Secret Ingredient
City bakeries add diastatic malt powder to the water that they boil their bagels in. This ingredient improves the texture of the bagels crust and gives it a nice golden brown color.
It is said that you can substitute brown sugar to achieve a similar effect. That’s what I’m going to do today, as I’m moving soon and don’t want to place an online order for diastatic malt.
I’ll be honest though, I don’t expect to get the same result. Diastatic malt has an active enzyme in it that works it’s magic on a bagels crust. I’m certain that sugar can’t do the same thing. But perhaps it will lend a bit of the faint sweetness that the malt powder gives to the crust nonetheless.
It’s In The Water
The one thing that stands in the way of making a true New York style bagel, that cannot be fixed if you don’t live in the big city, is the water.
There is a quality to New York City water that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. It is an important element in both bagel and pizza dough.
My son was a pizza cook for years, at a competition worthy level. When we were living in northern CA he was unable to make a pizza dough that tasted exactly the same as he was used to make back home. So, he contacted an old Italian pizzeria owner he knew well to troubleshoot.
His friend didn’t hesitate, even for a moment, before he responded to him by saying he couldn’t reproduce the dough he had made so many times back home on the west coast because of the water.
It seems mysterious, even unlikely, but without big city water both bagel dough and pizza dough will not be exactly the same.
To this I once again say … carry on and make the best damn dough you can!
Topping And Baking
You will want to add the toppings to your bagels just after they come out of the boiling water. Don’t wait for all of them to be finished boiling, as the first ones that were done will have lost their stickiness by then. Lay them out on a parchment lined sheet pan and top them as you go.
One of the most popular bagel toppings out there is the everything bagel seasoning. I have never made my own as I’ve never made bagels before today. But I did find this everything bagel seasoning recipe by a blogger I often refer to, Love & Lemons, if you want to give it a try.
Or you can go with any one of the following suggestions as well …
- poppy seeds
- minced fresh onion
- sesame seeds
- caraway seeds
- minced fresh garlic
- cinnamon sugar
- coarse salt
- shredded cheese
- chopped jalapenos
- sunflower seeds
- dried dill
Once you’ve boiled and topped all of your bagels, it’s time to bake them. They can go right in the oven as they are for about 25-30 minutes. The oven temperature should be set to 425° and you will know they are done when they have turned a light golden brown.
Serving A New York Style Bagel
It is an undeniable fact that there is no right or wrong way to eat a New York style bagel. You can eat your bagel any way that pleases you. And you can eat it any time of the day you wish as well.
The two most common ways to eat bagels in the big city are with lox and/or with a schmear of cream cheese.
A schmear of cream cheese is simply a thick (about 1/4″) layer of cream cheese over the inside surface of the bagel. It is typically spread on both sides of the bagel and then smooshed between them like a sandwich. It’s simplicity and it’s classic flavor make it a very appealing choice for enjoying a bagel.
If you are a fan of lox, cured salmon, then you may want to add that on top of your schmear. I’ve never had it, but it certainly sounds like a tasty option to me. I’ve seen it done this way with thinly sliced tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers. Capers are often tossed on top as well.
Bagels are great topped with just about anything you can imagine; butter, jam, cheeses, fruit, berries, avocado, sprouts, and veggies.
Some of my favorite combinations are …
- smashed avocado with thinly sliced tomato and onion, and ground black pepper
- cream cheese with thick slice tomato, granulated garlic, and ground black pepper
- cream cheese with homemade jam or fruit butter
- fresh ground peanut butter and homemade jam
- fried eggs with sausage, bacon, or ham and cheese
- cold cuts with cheese, sprouts, tomato, onion, and mayonnaise
- bacon, lettuce, and tomato with mayonnaise
- cold cuts with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise
Try one of these combinations and see how you like them, or create your own unique combination to enjoy.
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New York style bagels are known for their leathery crust and chewy texture. This recipe will make a bagel so close to those found in New York bakeries that you'll think you stepped into the big city.
- 1 1/2 c warm water
- 1 tbls yeast
- 4 1/3 c bread flour
- 1 tbls sugar
- 2 tsp + 1 tbls dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp + 1/2 tsp salt
- toppings (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc)
- Mix yeast in warm water and set aside
- In a large bowl mix bread flour, sugar, 2 tsp brown sugar, and 2 tsp salt with a whisk.
- Add the yeast mixture and blend with a spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
- Empty the dough out onto a clean countertop and knead for 20 minutes (use a stand mixer if you have one).
- Shape dough into a ball and allow to rest on the counter for 10 minutes.
- Cut dough ball into 8 equal parts, and form them into individual balls.
- Allow them to rest for 15 minutes on a parchment lined sheet pan.
- Poke your finger directly down in the center of each ball, stretch it to create a bagel shape. Make the hole a little wider than you think it should be, as the dough will rise throughout the rest of the process.
- Leave the bagel shaped dough on the parchment covered sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes.
- Bring a shallow pot of water, with 1 tbl brown sugar and 1/2 tsp salt added to it, to a boil.
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- Place each bagel in the boiling water and allow to cook for 1 minute. Flip the bagel and cook the other side for 1 minute. Do not allow the water to cool down. Keep it at a rolling boil.
- Remove the bagels from the water and put them back on the parchment lined sheet pan.
- If you are going to put toppings on the bagels do it now while they are wet and sticky.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the top of the bagel is a nice golden brown.
- Allow to cool.
- Serve cold or toasted with a 'schmear' of cream cheese.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 273Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 149mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 9g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 9/22/2022. Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.