An homage to the famed Montreal bagel, and not unlike the traditional New York variety, these cruelty-free bagels are boiled before they are baked. The boiling step is what makes these bagels truly authentic: locking in the moisture, adding the beloved chewiness, and enhancing the flavor by allowing the yeast to develop more complexity over the full length of cooking (as compared to the faster turnaround of just baking). Without that crucial boiling step, these bagels would simply be bread. Luckily for our waistlines, these bagels are smaller than their gargantuan grocery store counterparts – because you won’t want to stop at just one! With a delightfully chewy interior and a characteristic hint of sweetness, they’re a little irresistible.
They can be dressed up or down with great success: heavenly simply toasted with a pat of non-dairy butter or hummus – resplendent as the foundation for a delicious sandwich (see below). Or enjoy them fresh, all by themselves. Whichever way they are enjoyed, these bagels are much loved in my household – and their popularity grows exponentially with each fragrant batch shared.
Old-Fashioned Montreal-Style Bagels
(vegan, yield: 18 bagels)
1 Tbsp flax meal
3 Tbsp water
1 1/2 cups water
2 packages + 1/2 tsp quick-rising, instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened soy yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
1/2 cup agave syrup
5 1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
3 quarts water for boiling (I filled my large pot with 4-5 inches of water)
1/3 cup malted barley syrup (for the boiling water)
Sesame or poppy seeds (for sprinkling on top)
1. In a small bowl, add the flax meal and 3 Tbsp water, beat together vigorously until very frothy and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups water, yeast, sugar and salt together. Stir in the oil and agave syrup, add the flax mixture, and mix well.
3. Add 5 cups of the bread flour and mix with a big wooden spoon until the dough is too stiff to mix by hand. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead to form a soft, pliable dough. Measure the remaining 1/2 cup of bread flour and add as needed to prevent the dough from getting too sticky. If needed, add a little more flour – don’t add too much or your dough will be tough and dry (add just what you need in order to handle the dough cleanly, without it sticking to your hands or your work surface). When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap placed loosely over the top (leaving room for the dough to rise). Let the dough rest for approximately 20 minutes.
4. While your dough is resting, pour water into your pot and start heating to a boil. Add the barley malt syrup and stir until dissolved. Keep your pot covered and reduce heat to a medium simmer while you prepare the bagels for boiling.
5. Once the dough has rested for 20 minutes, punch it down and divide into 18 equal portions. If some portions seem excessively large or small, now is the time to pinch a bit off the big ones to augment the small ones.
6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. You will be placing 9 bagels on each sheet.
7. Shape the dough portions into rings by elongating each piece into 8 to 10-inch lengths that are about 3/4-inch thick. Then, fold the ends over each other and pinch together. Holding the ring on its side with one hand, place two or three fingers from your other hand through the hole and roll the ring gently back and forth over the seal to join it well. A good seal prevents the ends from opening up when boiled. As you form each bagel, place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once all the bagels are formed, let them rest on the sheets for 15 minutes.
8. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400°F, bring the water back to a boil. Have bowls of poppy seeds and/or sesame seeds near the stove.
9. Once the bagels have rested and the water is boiling (and starting with the sheet of bagels that was prepared first) use a slotted spoon to add three bagels to the water. As they rise to the surface, turn them over and let them boil for an additional minute before removing them (allowing them to drip for a few moments) and dipping them in either bowl of the seeds. Note: If they seem to float immediately, let them cook for 1 minute before flipping them and cooking for an additional minute on the other side.
10. Once they’ve been dipped in the seeds, place the bagels back in place on the baking sheets. Since they don’t increase in size during baking, you can place them fairly closely together if necessary, but not touching (depending on the size of your baking sheets). Note: Use two forks to transfer the bagels from the bowl of seeds to the baking sheet – one to flip and both to carry.
11. Continue boiling and dipping the bagels in batches of three until the first sheet is ready for the oven. Place that sheet in the oven on the middle rack, and set your oven timer for 25 minutes. While the first batch is baking, continue boiling and dipping the second batch of bagels.
12. The bagels should bake until they are medium brown. After 25 minutes of baking, check them. If necessary, add 5 minutes (or more) until they are brown enough for your liking.
13. Once they have baked, remove them from the oven and place them on a cooling rack. Once cooled, they freeze well if desired – if they last that long.