Bagels - New Jersey Approved!

I always loved bagels (that is, until I decided to go on a diet and learned that one bagel is equal to about five slices of bread). It just didn't seem worth it, but from time to time the mood for a bagel with cream cheese would just strike me. It was inescapable. The subtle chewiness, the breadiness, the texture when an onion bagel was perfectly toasted: those were the wonderful little things.

Yet I learned from several friends who were New York natives that, in all likelihood, I had probably never had a good bagel. They said things packaged from the store didn't count, and Noah's bagels likewise did not count. They would speak poetically about the chewiness and distint flavor of a New York bagel. They said they hadn't found anything like it in California.

Since moving to the East Coast, I've found quite a few more people who are natives of New York/New Jersey. I decided to bring bagels in for one of them to try  so they would give constructive pointers. After all, I cannot say I make bagels unless they really are New York or New Jersey approved. I figure no one else will be as picky about these round doughy delights.

For the most part, this bagel was New Jersey approved. They loved the flavor, thought it had a good density, and felt I got the interior right, but they said the exterior needed a long boiling time. It needed to be stickier and to have more of an alkaline flavor (more baking soda). Those are easy things to fix, so I called this recipe approved.


  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 17 oz bread flour
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • ½ tsp yeast
  • 15.25 oz bread flour
  • 2 ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp packed brown sugar or 2 tsp malt


  1. Proof 1 tsp yeast in water. When it begins to bubble, add 17 oz bread flour. Let sit covered at room temperature for 2 hours.
  2. After two hours, add salt, sugar/malt, remaining yeast and flour. Mix until incorporated and knead for 10 minutes
  3. Immediately split dough into 12 pieces and roll into balls. Let rest 20 minutes
  4. Shape bagels by punching a thumb through the center. Place dough on oiled parchment paper and let rise 20 minutes (or until bagels float in water). After rising, retard bagels in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. The next morning, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Boil bagels for 1 minute on each side in water with baking soda (about 2 Tbsp for a pot)
  6. Place bagels on cornmeal covered baking sheet with desired toppings. Bake for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 450 degrees and bake another 5 minutes.
  7. Let bagels cool completely before eating.
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