… from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? Sheldon was a neighbor when I was growing up. His father owned a bagel bakery. This, of course, was when bagel bakers started working at two in the morning and still rolled all the bagels by hand… it was a union job—no rolling machines allowed. There were fifty or so “men” working around a large round table rolling and rolling and rolling for hours. Yes, they were all men—no women allowed. Sheldon’s dad invited us to come over to the bakery to see how bagels were made and try our hand at rolling a few. While the union guys were rolling 6 to 8 a minute, we were rolling about 1 bagel every 6 to 8 minutes.
I found out two important things that morning… I didn’t like getting to work at 2am and that I liked bagel-eating a whole lot more than bagel-making!
Here’s the “hole” story. It is believed that bagels made their way to New York with the migration of Eastern European Jewish immigrants in the late 1800s. As Jewish refugees from Poland and Eastern Europe began to arrive in New York City en masse, they brought their traditional foods with them such as challah, brisket, knishes, and bagels. For many decades, bagels were little known outside of the Jewish community, where their popularity was widespread. Bagels became so popular among the Jewish community of New York, that by 1900, 70 bagel bakeries existed on the Lower East Side. In 1907, the International “Beigel” Bakers' Union was formed to monopolize the production of bagels in the city. By 1910, Bagel Bakers Local 338 represented over 300 bagel craftsmen in Manhattan.
Why do New York City Bagels seem to be the best in the world? Many people claim the main difference in taste and texture of a real New York bagel is New York City tap water, which contains certain minerals they attribute to creating a better bagel. The low concentrations of calcium and magnesium found in New York water are thought to make the water softer which has been claimed to strengthen the gluten in the bagel dough, helping to create the chewy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside bagel.
While New York-style is the original bagel type available in the United States, various other cities around the world have their own distinct style of baking and serving bagels. Bagels remain a filling, tasty, inexpensive treat no longer just for Jewish immigrants living in Manhattan. In fact, I ate one just this morning lightly toasted with butter and jam.
Prep time: 2 hours
Proof time: 1 to 1-1/2 hours
Boil time: 3 minutes
Bake time: 10 to 12 minutes
Yield: 12 Bagels
For the bagels
4 teaspoons active dry yeast (make sure it’s not expired)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1-1/4 cups warm water (110º F)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons malt
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the boiling soda dip
4 cups boiling water
3/4 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons honey
Coarse kosher salt or bagel salt
“Everything” spice blend (Trader Joe’s)
To make the bagel dough
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: I need to Social Distance away from the kitchen—I just tested positive for a big butt.
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