Whether you’re more into New York style bagels or Montreal bagels, apparently Bagel Day was yesterday (Jan 15), and though we’re a little late onto this train, you can learn about the history of the humble bagel in The Bagel by Maria Balinska – yes, an entire book dedicated to it – along with a variety of recipes you can use to try your hand at making your own, so you can put whatever toppings and seasonings you like!
For a variety of different ways to make challahs, babkas, bagels, and more, check out Modern Jewish Baker by Shannon Sarna. The bagels in this one are New York-style bagels, and they come in a variety of incarnations, from plain bagels and whole wheat ones to jalapeno cheddar bagels and sweeter varieties like blueberry (classic) and cinnamon raisin, you’ll have enough bagels for all your sandwich desires! What I really like about this book is that it also contains lots of step-by-step shaping photo instructions, guiding you through how to shape your bagel dough, yes, but also the different ways you can braid your challah (in addition to the many-numbered strands, there’s also stuffed challah. Stuffed with delicious filling challah) and a clear demonstration of how to shape a babka.
And for a comparison between the New York and the Montreal bagel, check out Crusts: The Ultimate Baker’s Book by Barbara Elisi Caracciolo. It’s got an entire chapter on bagels, discussing the differences between the two varieties (because let’s be real: who actually knows what the difference between NY and Montreal bagels is?) and contains the recipe for St.Viateur’s sesame bagel! For all those times you can’t make your way to Montreal for your morning bagel! On the other hand, you’ll also see interesting varieties such as the seaweed bagel (seaweed + bread is a delicious combo – I can vouch for that – if you’re feeling wary after hearing this combination for the first time), along with a recipe for Jewish Bagels (a New York style bagel according to the description). Interestingly, the St.Viateur bagel doesn’t give it time to rise anywhere in the instructions, apart from the 20m rest after working with the dough, but that’s to let the dough relax for shaping, whereas the New York style one has the dough covered and double in size before shaping. In addition to this, in the New York style instructions, the shaping says you can either shape it by rolling a tube into a circle, or poking a hole into the dough, that both form perfectly good bagels – except they should yield different results! Think about the way the dough is rising: with a hole in the middle, the dough rises much like a regular bun, and should rise fluffier than if you were to roll it into a tube first before connecting the ends, which should yield a denser texture (perhaps preferable for a bagel, which is normally chewy?). And of course, since this is quite a comprehensive collection of recipes, I feel like I need to include it in the mix: Baking and Pastry, published by the Culinary Institute of America.
You and gluten aren’t on good terms? No problem! You’ll be able to start baking your way through all the breads in no time (or, well, with enough time for the doughs to rise and bake of course) with Gluten-free on a Shoestring by Nicole Hunn. While I haven’t tried baking gluten-free breads before, and according to some of the reviews on Goodreads this is most certainly not done according to these recipes on a shoestring (because purchasing the different alternative flours is pricey even if you divide it back out per portion as being on a shoestring…), there’s bound to be a lot more experimentation when it comes to baking gluten-free, and this looks to be a good place to start.
Have you made bagels before? Eaten bagels? What’s your favourite flavour, and do you have a specific bakery you swear by?