I love living in California, but I will always consider myself a New Yorker at heart.
Why I’m Still A New Yorker.
- I talk fast.
- Relaxing is challenging for me.
- 90% things in my closet (clothing, shoes and handbags) are black.
- Good restaurant service can make-or-break a restaurant experience for me.
- I prefer walking over driving and I absolutely hate running.
- Despite how caloric they are, I still eat bagels.
People often ask me what I miss most about living in New York City. And after 12 years the the answer has remained the same. I miss the diversity, energy, sarcasm and most of, I miss the food.
To clarify, by “food” I don’t mean high-end, we have plenty of that in Northern California. I’m referring to a few different things: (1) amazing inexpensive ethnic foods, (2) a proper pastrami sandwich, (3) thin-crust, brick-oven pizza by the slice and (4) killer bagels. Simply put, California needs to work on bagel making. The places all around us call their bagels “New York style” bagels. But trust me, they’re not.
Some bagel places near me say they have “Kosher-style” or “Brooklyn-style” bagels, but they are also mistaken. To clarify, West Coast bagels have a few significant issues. First, they are way too big size-wise. Second, they are way too airy. And third, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why their version of an everything bagels does not include salt. Seriously, that’s a must.
My family’s favorite bagels in California is not close, they’re a 35 minute car ride to San Francisco, but they’re worth it. Wise Sons, which calls themselves a “Jewish Delicatessen” hits the mark on the closest thing to a New York style bagel that we’ve found. And thank goodness for that, as we needed them to cater my son’s bar mitzvah brunch.
People often say it’s the water that makes the bagel. For a long time I believed that myself. But actually, it’s much simpler than that. It’s the actual bagel making process that matters most. Below is a breakdown of what you need to know (or do) to make great New York style bagels at home:
- Good quality bread flour (I love King Arthur).
- Proper dough kneading (at least 8 minutes in a machine fitted with a dough hook).
- Hand shaping the bagels (do not use a cutter).
- Proofing them properly (they should not double in size).
- Quick boil in flavored water (a good local honey is my preference).
- A very hot oven (at least 425 degrees F).
It took me a while to come up with a bagel recipe I loved and wanted to share, but I finally did it. My bagels have a thin crispy outside, soft, but not too airy or dense inside, with just a subtle touch of sweetness. Like a great challah bread, I don’t make homemade bagels all that often, but trust me, when I do, they don’t disappoint. This is a recipe for everything bagels because that is my favorite bagel flavor.
Trader Joes has made it even easier with their extremely popular product Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend. And they even added the salt. If everything topping is not your style, no worries, any topping can be easily substituted. Above all, even if you qualify yourself as a non bread baker, try making my bagels, they are less intimidating than they seem and boy are they worth it!
New York Style Everything Bagels
- 1 and 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
- 2 and 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 4 cups good quality bread flour, plus additional for kneeding
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Extra Virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water, for egg wash
- 3/4 cup jared Everything topping (from Trader Joes)
- Step 1 For the dough: In the bowl of a kitchen mixer, such as a KitchenAid, fitted with a hook attachment, add the warm water and yeast, mix and let stand for about 5 minutes.
- Step 2 Add the flour, brown sugar, and salt to the yeast-water mixture. Beat on low for about 2 minutes.
- Step 3 Lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil and set by your work station. Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands, gently knead the dough for about 4-5 minutes. Note: do not use the mixer for this, hand kneading yields a better bagel. Form the dough into a large ball.
- Step 4 Place the dough in the prepared bowl, turning it twice to coat all sides with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise (at room temperature) for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has double in size.
- Step 5 Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Step 6 Cooking the Bagels: When the dough is ready, gently punch it down to release any air bubbles. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Using your hands, shape each piece into a ball. Press your index finger through the center of each ball to make a hole about about 2 inches in diameter. Place the bagel on the prepared baking sheet and repeat the above with the remaining dough. Next, loosely cover the bagels with kitchen towel while you prepare the water for boiling.
- Step 7 Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Fill a large stock pot with 2 quarts of water, add the honey and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the honey.
- Step 8 Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat slightly. Add the bagels, two at a time and gently boil for 1 minute turning halfway through. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bagel and place back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 6 bagels.
- Step 9 Once all the bagels are cooked, place the everything topping on in a small shallow dish. Use a pastry brush to egg wash the top and around the sides of each bagel. Working one at a time, dip the egg washed side of the bagel into the everything topping and use your hands to evenly coat as best as possible.
- Step 10 Place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, rotating halfway through until the bagels are golden brown in color. Remove the bagels from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheets for about 30 minutes before slicing.
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