I never really knew what a good bagel was until I went to college. There was this bagel shop a couple blocks down from my apartment that always smelled like freshly baked bread with that distinct smell of bagels wafting in the air whenever we passed by. A typical breakfast consisted of a well-made bagel either slathered with cream cheese or stacked with eggs, bacon and cheese. It’s been years since those days and I can’t really say that good bagels are much of a thing here- most bakeries just don’t make homemade bagels. Most times, you’re getting a frozen product that’s been re-toasted to try and get some of its life back. Sadly enough it’s just not the same. And so when I saw that my boy Joshua Weissman had a recipe for bagels, I knew I had to give it a shot.
Bagels, at their core, are a type of bread- a fact that made me apprehensive in the first place. (See Focaccia above). But still, I put my hesitations aside and went on with making them. Interestingly enough, this dough comes together completely by hand which is a good way for novice bread makers to really get a feel of how dough behaves. It’s remarkable actually, to see this shaggy mess come together into a smooth ball after some kneading- all while Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” played in my head. After some resting, it was finally time to shape which is the most fun part of making bagels, other than eating them. The dough is portioned out and rolled into balls which are then pierced through the center with your fingers. After more pokes than a high school Facebook account, I finally got these classic bagel shapes that looked like some rugged and manly donuts. After another rest, they went for a swim in some boiling water to create that classic bagel chew. The puffy boys then get dressed up in everything bagel seasoning- a delicious mix of sesame and poppy seeds, garlic and onion flakes, and some salt. I had to swap the dried onion and garlic for freshly chopped- which I wouldn’t recommend as they’re prone to burning more easily. Then they make their final performance in the oven where they brown up beautifully and look as perfect as they can be. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t doubt my ability to make them look so good.
By the time these came out of the oven, it was lunch time and I’d been spending most of my morning slaving over these things, so I was surely ready to try one. The bagel split beautifully, providing enough crunchy sounds for an ASMR video that I would never make. I decided to go classic: slathering it with a cream cheese-green onion spread and topping it off with some smoked salmon we got as a gift from an auntie in Seattle. And how did it taste, you may ask? Delicious, absolutely delicious. The texture was just what I remember of really good bagels- crunchy, yet chewy with all that tasty bagel seasoning. It even held up the next day when I had to opt for the microwave since my toaster was too small. These definitely go down as one of the best things I’ve made- with my mom driving that point home after asking which of these lockdown bakes have been her favorite. What’s not to love? They have everything- I mean, Everything!
Full Recipe | Method by Joshua Weisman