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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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Farah Ng @ Broken Penguins February 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm

The worst part of a low-carb diet is the lack of BAGELS. I never thought that I could make my own MTL bagels. I thought the only way was to drive till the signs turned French! Thanks for sharing!


munchinwithmunchkin February 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I couldn’t live without bagels! Driving until the signs turn French (or at least bilingual) is usually a sure fire way to get em. Unfortunately for me that’s a very long drive!


Ragamuffin Diaries February 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm

“boiled in honey and cooked in a wood burning stove”? that sounds incredible! I haven’t had a bagel in ages; I’ve thought about making them before but never really got past thinking about it. These look wonderful!


munchinwithmunchkin February 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Boiling them in honey adds a nice sweet crust. If I had a backyard I would seriously consider building a wood oven just to make these bagels! haha


Anastasia February 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm

They look delicious!


Juli Hoffman February 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I want to try this!


KarenLynn@Lil'SuburbanHomestead February 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I am so trying these after our honey harvest comes in they literally made my mouth water….great photos!


munchinwithmunchkin February 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Thanks! I’m kind of jealous you harvest your own honey! I am way too afraid of bees for that


myfudo February 7, 2012 at 8:52 am

A morning staple…What will morning be without bagels? My journey towards becoming a skilled bread baker is starting with a resolve to get more good recipes. I am bookmarking this page, I’ll try one day. Thanks!


JS February 7, 2012 at 11:37 am

Too funny – I live in Ottawa, and every time I go home to LA, I bring back some real bagels, cause I really don’t like those fake Montreal style ones.


Alma Z February 8, 2012 at 7:01 am

GREAT! My sister,who lives in Montreal brings us the bagels everytime she comes to visit and it is such a treat! She took me to the place where they made them and you can watch them being made. They bake them 24 hours a day. With the bagels, she also brought some smoked salmon to go with the bagels.


munchinwithmunchkin February 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm

When I visit my friend who lives in Montreal, we always do a late night bagel run. I wish I could get steaming hot bagels 24-7. Vive la Quebec.


midnitechef February 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Have you found any beaver tail recipes? That’s what I remember from my trip many years ago. These bagels sound awesome tho!


munchinwithmunchkin February 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I love beaver tails! When I was a kid I used to get one as a treat after skating the Rideau canal. Since I’m missing winterlude this year I think I may have to make them myself! Thanks for the inspiration!


Spectra February 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I’ve never had luck with making bagels, and I’ve tried many times over the years. Such a sad waste of dough :( These do look delish, and love the idea of boiling in honey water.

Uhm…as far as polyester bell bottoms and disco, either that was a blurry period for you or the Canadians were seriously 10-15 years behind the times. By 1978-9, hiphugger, bell bottoms were already so “over” in the States, and by the 80’s it was back to straight legs and high-waisted pants were all the trend. By 87, polyester was also over, in favor of natural fibres. At least where are going-out clothes were concerned. Polyester continues to be used in awful uniforms and as 50/50 blends. Once I got off the bandwagon, I never got back on. blech.


munchinwithmunchkin February 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Canadians didn’t burn their disco albums, so it never really died there the way it did in the U.S (or at least it stuck around for ten years longer) The trends of the 80’s also lasted a lot longer than they should have. I feel like they didn’t disappear until the late 90s and now they’re back with the 80’s revival trends. Canada just really likes the 80s. ;)


Jean-François February 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Fairmont bagel and Schwartz’s are the two stops I make whenever I (far too rarely) get back to Montreal … so can’t wait to try this. Unfortunately I don’t have a wood burning oven, so gas will just have to do.


Montreal Nightlife February 20, 2012 at 1:37 am

Nothing beats a warm bagel at 3am after a night of clubbing. It’s a Montreal nightlife staple!


Helen St. Denis May 28, 2012 at 3:04 am

These were fantastic. I don’t think I’ll ever buy bagels again. It will always be these. Thank you!


Kris May 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Wow thanks so much Helen! So glad you enjoyed them.


Ivy June 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Hi Kris,
I’ve made the bagels and they are fantastic!
I translated the recipe to Chinese and put it on a Chinese recipe sharing website. I’ve cited your blog but if you don’t like that I’ll deleted it. (click here if you wanna see ->
Again, great recipe! Thanks.


Andrea July 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Aloha! I’m a Canadian, raised in LA and living in Hawaii. Segal’s in Vancouver is where my best friend buys me mine when she meets me in LA. Bagels here are pretty sad. I made Marcy’s once and they were great, but I wondered if you’d tried any whole grain variations as I’ve gotten from Segal’s?


Caroline August 15, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Just tried them today, and they turned out perfectly. Only thing I would do differently would be to bake them at 350-375 next time, but that’s just because my oven is a temperamental bully…


Michelle August 31, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Thank-you! Thank-you! I’m a Canadian ex-pat living in Napa and there isn’t a single place to get even a New York Style bagel here!!!!!! They are all heavy, doughy and no holes. I’ve had a craving for a week, now I’m going to try your recipe. I should start a business here!


Susy September 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Have you thought of applying the technique people use to smoke meat in their bbq?

I think some people just use chips wrapped in tin foil (with the top foil a bit perforated), but here’s another way a person did to use their oven to smoke ribs.

It may make the house smell a bit. Maybe you can somehow figure a way to bake the bagels in the bbq?


Alex February 5, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Made these for the second time in the week. Never thought bagels could be so easy and delicious, especially Montreal bagels which is one thing my girlfriend and I miss the most about living in Vermont.


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