Montreal Style Bagels

by Kris on February 6, 2012

Friday evening Greg and I had absolutely nothing to do. We planned on going to see a movie at the drive in, but a tornado watch in surrounding counties cancelled that plan. Oh the joys of living in tornado alley…

It quickly became one of those nights where we fell into an internet wormhole. I don’t even know how it began, but it ended in a disco dance off in our living room. After an hour of classics such as staying alive and don’t leave me this way, we somehow entered the world of Canadian disco which led to French Canadian hits like bye bye mon cowboy.

Despite the seven year age difference between Greg and I, most of our childhood memories involve the same television shows, music and fashion. While the rest of the world entered the 1990s and never looked back, Canada decided to hang back for another decade and relic in their neon acid wash love. (Probably because the 80’s were overrun by polyester bell bottoms and disco hits like ‘bye bye mon cowboy’)

This Canadian disco dance off left me hungry and seriously craving a Montreal style bagel.  In case you aren’t familiar, Montreal bagels are more dense and sweet than a typical bagel. They’re boiled in honey and cooked in a wood burning oven. This is the kind of bagel I grew up eating and only later in life did I discover bagels were much different in other parts of the world.

Greg and I searched online for many Montreal bagel recipes and most seemed to be based off of the same one by Marcy Goldman. We decided to give it a try, making minor adjustments here and there. I was quite surprised by the outcome! Although they lacked the smoky flavour a wood oven lends them, the bagels had the right amount of sweetness and an almost perfect consistency.

It brought me back to the days of my youth, driving home from Kettleman’s with my mum, sneaking a hot bagel from the paper bag on my lap. There is no better bagel in the world, despite what New Yorker’s say.

Adapted from Marcy Goldman’s Recipe

Montreal Style Bagels

  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 5 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. sunflower oil
  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. beated egg
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 4 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tsp. Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 4 quarts water
  • ¼ cup honey

Preheat oven to 425

In a large bowl combine warm water, sugar, oil, yeast, egg, and maple syrup. Stir until the yeast dissolves.

Add salt and one cup of flour. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix until fully incorporated.

In batches of ¼ cup, add flour and mix until each addition is fully combined. The dough will become quite firm and smooth.

Transfer the dough to a smooth, flat surface and knead for about 10 minutes. If the dough is sticky add more flour, one tablespoon at a time.

Let the dough rest, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Divide each half again. Continue until you have 12 equal sized portions of dough.

Roll each ball of dough into 10 inch long strips. Wrap the strand of dough around your hand and press down on one end with your thumb. Brush a small amount of water into the indentation and press the other end of the strip into it to create a bagel shape.

Roll the dough between your palms to smooth the seam.

Fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water and add the honey. Bring to a boil.

While you wait for the water to boil, prepare your work station. Lay a clean dishtowel down next to your pot. Place the sesame seeds in a shallow bowl and keep nearby. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

When the water begins to boil, drop 3 bagels into the pot for 90 seconds, turning halfway through. When the cooking is complete, the bagels will float to the top. Using a slotted spoon transfer to the clean dishtowel to cool. Once the bagels are cool enough to handle place them into the bowl of sesame seeds and lightly press down. Turn and repeat to cover the other side. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Continue this process until all the bagels are boiled and coated with seeds.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and turn all the bagels. Bake for an additional 10 minutes until they are evenly browned.

Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

Yield 12 bagels

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