Eben Gilkenson

The number 2023 spelled out in bagels.

A Year in Bagels

A few years ago, I had attempted to make Krakover bagels, a somewhat unique Polish style of bagel, using this recipe from Spruce Eats.

They were supposed to look like this:

The way Krakover bagels should look.

But mine looked like this:

My first attempt at Krakover bagels.

Things seemed to be going according to plan until the water bath, where all of my neatly-twisted bagels decided to un-twist themselves and basically explode. I didn’t really feel like trying it again. The shaping was a pain and I didn’t have any solution for the un-twisting problem.

I did remember the flavor and texture as being pretty spot on, however, so when I got fed up with the quality of store-bought bagels last March, I decided to give the recipe another shot without the twisted shape.

Et voila:

My first batch of bagels, cooling on a rack.

Those look like actual bagels! Looks like I’ve created yet another job for myself. I’ve been doing this at least once a week ever since.

The night-before process takes about 40-45 minutes, most of which is waiting. Let the mixer knead for 10 minutes, let the dough rest for 20 minutes and then shape the bagels and put them in the fridge.

Two cinnamon-raisin and one plain bagel, shaped but not yet baked.

The morning part has become a choreographed sleep-walking routine: turn the oven on to 425°F convection; pull the bagels out of the fridge; mix up the brine (malt powder, salt and water) and start it heating up; make coffee; simmer the bagels in the brine for a minute; bake for 15 minutes. Then comes the frustrating 30 minutes of waiting for the bagels to cool enough to eat.

3 bagels simmering in a pot of brine.

While I’ve mostly stuck with the original Krakover recipe, I have altered it for cinnamon-raisin and Montreal-style bagels. The latter just means adding a dash of maple syrup to the dough and honey to the brine.

Finished cinnamon-raisin, plain and sesame bagels on a cooling rack.

Now I just need to figure out English muffins…

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