You can wait to visit Montreal or depend on Canadian relatives to ship down bagels (not recommended) or try this absolutely authentic, good-enough-to-open-a-Montreal-bagel-franchise bagel recipe. Although real Montreal bagels do not have any salt (or so they claim—I sometimes taste some—depending on the bakery), this recipe has a modest amount, which serves to regulate the fermentation. For really authentic bagels, you should try fresh yeast, but dry will still give you outstanding results.
Makes 12 bagels
What You Need:
- 13/4 cups water
- 21/2 teaspoons dry yeast or 1/2 ounce fresh
- 5 tablespoons plus a pinch of sugar
- 2 tablespoons beaten egg
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon malt powder
- 11/2 teaspoons salt (optional)
- 41/2–5 cups bread flour
- 1/3 cup honey
- 11/2 cups sesame or poppy seeds (or half and half)
What You Do:
- In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast, and pinch of sugar. Let the mixture stand for a couple of minutes, allowing the yeast to swell or dissolve. (If using fresh yeast, crumble it into the warm water along with the pinch of sugar.) Whisk in the remaining sugar, the beaten egg, vegetable oil, malt, and salt, if using it. Fold in most of the flour.
- Knead for 10 to 12 minutes to form a stiff, smooth dough, adding additional flour as required. Cover with a tea towel or an inverted bowl and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Line a large baking sheet with a kitchen towel, and another with baking parchment. Fill a large soup pot or Dutch oven with 6 quarts water. Add the honey. Bring the water to a boil. Meanwhile, divide the dough in 12 sections and form each one into a 10-inch strip. Form these into bagel rings and place them on a cookie sheet. Let them rise for 12 to 16 minutes, until they are very slightly puffed up. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Boil the bagels for about 11/2 minutes, turning them once. Place them on the towel-lined sheet to dry out. Then sprinkle very generously with sesame or poppy seeds. (Montreal bagels are more seeded than regular bagels) and transfer them to the parchment-lined sheet.
- Place in the oven, reduce the heat to 425°F, and bake until done, 15 to 22 minutes, turning them once when they are just about done and switching baking sheets midway. Alternatively, you can start the bagels on the baking sheet and turn them onto a preheated baking stone to finish baking.