A Confession of Bagel Love

I love bagels.

After having lived in Montreal for several years, I make a point of bringing back bagels each time I visit. I have even been known to have an empty suitcase in tow for the sole purpose of bringing back the amazing St.-Viateur bagels. Dense and chewy with a faintly distinct sweetness Montreal bagels are always cooked in a wood fire oven. Although there are a handful of Montreal-style bagelrys here on the west coast, nothing compares to a true Montreal bagel hot out of the fire torn apart and dipped directly in cream cheese.

I never realized how deep my love for bagels went until a recent three month trip to Mexico. Returning home, at 2 am, after 16 hours of traveling  we stopped for groceries. We were sure to each pick out the thing we missed most. We ended up with pizza ingredients, cream cheese and the best bagels we could find at 2 am. I was so happy to have bagels in my life again, the prefect meal, snack, side, the perfect vessel for tangy cream cheese complemented by a dark, bold, nutty coffee.

After testing out several recipes and countless bagel shops I have decided that these are the next best thing to a real Montreal Bagel. They take a bit of time and planning but I assure you they are worth it. Bagels are never around for very long in our home. I have often eaten more bagels than I care to admit, warm, out of the oven, torn to pieces and dipped directly into the cream cheese container. I often double, even triple this recipe so that I can have extra bagels which I cut in half and freeze.

adapted from The Wednesday Chef


  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons + 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Dissolve 1 Tablespoon honey and yeast in warm water, let sit 10 minutes. Mix in flour, 2 teaspoons of salt and knead dough for 5 minutes, adjusting moisture as necessary. Let dough rest for 5-10 minutes, until it is elastic and slightly tacky (add water or flour if too soft or tacky). Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl cover with plastic wrap (I use a shower cap) and let rest in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and remove dough from refrigerator. Divide into 6-8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 10″ rope (think snake like). Pinch together with about 2 inches overlap ensuring a good seal, and stretch dough gently so that there is a 2″ hole in center of bagel. Lightly brush bagels with oil and seal with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, 90 minutes before you want to bake bagels, remove them from the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 500°F.

In a large pot, bring at least 4″ of water to a boil, and then stir in 1 Tablespoon of honey, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Reduce to a simmer. Cooking in batches, so as not to overcrowd the pot, gently place bagels into water. Cook for 1 minute, flip and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and place back on parchment lined baking sheet.

Place baking tray in oven and reduce heat to 450°F. Bake for 8 minutes, rotate pan and bake for another 8-12 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.


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