we have reached our pinnacle in the kitchen: montreal-style bagels

Rock this morning said, “If we can do this, we can do anything!”  Ever since we got our KitchenAid mixer, he’s been aching to try and make bagels.  I think we both felt pretty intimidated but we decided to go for the gold.  I am actually really obsessed with bagels;  I had even gotten Rock to bring me a few bagels to Uganda when he came to visit.  But sadly, there’s no bagel shop in town and Tim Horton’s bagels are truly only mediocre (sorry to people that worship Tim Horton’s).  Rock’s favourite are poppy seed bagels and I love onion bagels so we decided to make both.  Specifically, I love the onion bagels from Benny’s back home in Vancouver and it is the absolute best as an open-faced melt with sun-dried tomato and artichoke cream cheese and then topped with melty brie.  It’s a bit (maybe a lot) indulgent and I’m pretty sure the first time Rock saw me put both cream cheese and brie on my bagel he was wondering how I’m not 30 lbs heavier… but seriously, it’s life-alteringly good.  Anyway, I couldn’t really find anything on how to make an onion bagel the way I like them so I just did a bit of guesswork and settled on rehydrated dried chopped onion and then hoped it would work (it did).  OK, bagel time.

Makes 12 bagels

2 and 1/2 tsp active yeast  /  1 and 3/4 cups warm water  /  3 tbsp canola oil  /  1 egg  (beaten)  /  1 tsp salt  /  5 tbsp sugar  (plus 1 tsp of sugar to proof the yeast)  /  4 and 1/2 to 5 cups bread flour  /  1/3 cup honey  /  poppy seeds (optional) /  rehydrated dried chopped onions (optional)

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Proof the yeast in a small bowl with 1/4 cup of the warm water and 1 tsp of sugar and let it sit for a few minutes.  In the meantime, in a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the warm water, just 2 tbsp of the beaten egg, canola oil, salt, sugar and bread flour.  (Start off with 4 and 1/2 cups of the flour and gradually add in a bit more while kneading if it’s a bit too sticky.  Like the pretzels, I think it depends on your climate how much flour will work best!)  Add in the yeast and then knead until the dough is smooth and firm.  (The KitchenAid was a lifesaver here, seriously, it’s amazing.)  Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes under a tea towel.  Cut the dough into 12 roughly equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.  Then to put the hole into your bagel, we kinda just pinched a hole into each using a thumb and a middle finger (I don’t know how better to explain that!)  and gently coaxed them into the bagel shape.  After all your bagels have been formed and placed onto a baking sheet, cover with the tea towel for about 15 minutes to let them rise up a bit.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425F and fill a large pot about 3/4 full of water (we used a 5 quart pot) and add in the honey.  Put the pot over heat and bring the honey-water to a boil.  Poach the bagels in the water for 1 minute on each side and then lay them onto a baking sheet that’s covered with a tea towel which will absorb some of the water.

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Add a bit of water to the remaining beaten egg to make an egg wash and brush over the tops of the bagels.  Then sprinkle over the poppy seeds or onions or whatever other topping you’d prefer.  Transfer the bagels to parchment paper-lined baking sheets and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops have browned.

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Rock already ate 1 and a half bagels within 10 minutes of them coming out of the oven and he wants to make more so I guess they are very successful!  We burned the bottoms of some of our bagels because we had put them on the lower rack in the oven so just be mindful to place them in the middle rack or swap the 2 trays at the halfway point of baking just to avoid any potential for burning.  They weren’t as difficult to make as we anticipated and it was actually really fun forming them.  Rock says, “they are astonishing” (I love his use of adjectives), “I just want to eat more.”  There you have it.

UPDATE:  We have made bagels countless times since we originally posted this recipe.  We’ve even hosted full on bagel parties, just for bagel-eating.  We’ve made various flavoured bagels now including our original poppy seed and onion as well as sesame seed, rosemary and sea salt, and jalapeño and cheddar.  My next batch will have to be the everything bagel.  We’ve also whipped up different flavoured cream cheeses including pesto, sundries tomato and artichoke, jalapeño and cheddar, and cinnamon-sugar.  The possibilities are endless!

poppy seed bagels, rosemary and sea salt bagels, onion bagels & jalapeño bagels

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