When I think about iconic Montreal foods my mind immediately goes to two things: poutine and bagels.
When Paul first moved to Montreal a few years ago, we set out to find the best and tastiest Montreal bagels that we could. Luckily, after asking around, we found out that there are really only two places you need to know about when you want the best bagels in the city: (1) Fairmount Bagel OR (2) St-Viateur Bagel.
Both places sell their bagels 24 hours a day and they are always fresh. Seriously, it’s amazing!! And I’d love to tell you that I have a favourite spot, but it’s nearly impossible for me. I love them both.
If you Google which one is the best you’ll quickly come upon this article by Serious Eats. In it, you’ll find a quick description of the two places, a small bagel history lesson and the story of how these bagels are made (a lovely morning read, really)!
You might also find this little gem. It’s a mini documentary about Fairmount Bagel and it makes my heart soar.
But what you really need to know is what the Montreal bagel actually tastes like. What makes it different? Well, the look to start with. These bagels are a bit smaller and flatter than the traditional New York-style bagel or bagel you’d find at your grocery store. They are also a bit sweeter, have way less bread in general and are less chewy because of it.
And sure, Montreal bagels are usually made in a wood fire oven, but much like pizza, you can make these at home if you bake them at a high temperature!
The traditional way to enjoy these bagels is to eat them fresh, not toasted, slathered in cream cheese. Plain and simple!
The next day, when the bagel isn’t as fresh, toasting is totally ok, but let me tell you, these go FAST.
I like to make 3 different varieties of these bagels when I make them. Our favourites include the traditional poppyseed bagel (only one side is dipped in seeds!), the sesame seed bagel and the all dressed (aka everything) bagel.
If you plan on visiting Montreal, one of the first things you’ll notice is that there aren’t a lot of bagel flavours. They keep things simple here and I am A-OK with that.
My favourite flavour will forever be the all dressed bagel, but really, when it comes to a fresh baked Montreal bagel I will take ANYTHING!
Happy weekend friends! Hopefully one of these days you will try baking a Montreal bagel at home! Or you know? Come visit and we can go to a bagel shop together (the coffee in Montreal is pretty bangin’ too). xo
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 packages (1 1/2 tbsp) dry quick-rising yeast
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup liquid honey
- 5 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/3 cup liquid honey or malt syrup
- Sesame seeds/poppy seeds/everything bagel mix, for sprinkling on top
- In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the dough hook, combine the water, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the whole egg, egg yolk, oil and 1/2 cup honey, and mix well.
- Add 5 cups of bread flour and slowly combine. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface or use a stand mixer, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Add more flour as needed to prevent dough from getting too sticky (for me I only needed another 1/2 cup). Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes*.
- To a large Dutch oven, add 3 quarts (12 cups) of water and 1/3 cup of malt syrup (or honey) and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Divide the dough into 16-18 equal portions. Shape into bagels by elongating each portion into an 8 to 10" coil. Fold the ends over each other, pressing with the palm of one hand and rolling back and forth gently to seal (Note: this step is important to lock the ends together and must be done properly so the bagels don’t open while being boiled). Place the bagels onto a towel-lined baking sheet and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450ºF degrees, and place one of the racks to the bottom. Bring the water to a boil.
- Fill bowls with your seeds of choice (I had three bowls: one with sesame seeds, one with poppy seeds and one with everything bagel topping). Place a tea towel on the counter beside the boiling water.
- Once the water is boiling, using a slotted spoon, add three bagels to the water at a time. As they rise to the surface, turn them over, and let them boil an additional minute before removing them, placing them on a tea towel to remove excess water, and quickly dipping them into a bowl of the seeds (Note: for poppyseed bagels, traditionally only one side is seeded). Place the seeded bagels directly onto a baking sheet (do NOT use parchment paper unless it is oven safe at 450 F) and set aside. Continue boiling the bagels in batches of three until all have been boiled and seeded.
- Place the baking sheets onto the lowest rack of oven and bake until they are medium brown, about 20 to 22 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Once cooled, bagels can be sliced and slathered with cream cheese.
- Leftover bagels can be placed in a plastic bag, sealed and frozen.
*If not using the dough immediately, refrigerate it for up to 24 hours after it has been kneaded. When ready to use dough, allow it to return to room temperature for an hour before cutting and rolling into bagels.
Recipe adapted from The New York Times