Montreal Bagels Recipe

July 14

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I have to say when I read that loveandoliveoil’s monthly challenge was to make bagels, I was pretty stoked. In many ways, making bagels was one of my main inspirations for becoming more adventurous in the kitchen. When I was living in London, my boyfriend (who was living in Vancouver at the time) decided to make bagels with a friend of his and he later told me how much fun it was and what a success they were. I had never thought it was even possible to make bagels at home. Coming from Montreal, I was (and still am) pretty snobby about my bagels (because Montreal bagels are awesome, not because people from Montreal are snobs!) and I thought it would be a great thing to do and share with my new-found friends in London.
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I have to say, after making bagels that first time, I haven’t looked back. I found it surprisingly easy to get a product that tasted heaps better than the stuff you buy in British supermarkets (I guess the bar isn’t too high) and with a little bit of practice you can really approach the glory that is an authentic Montreal bagel: slightly sweet, chewy, and covered generously with poppy or sesame seeds. I have enjoyed making bagels so much over the past two years that there have been countless moments when I have considered dropping my current career path to become a bagel maker (I still haven’t completely given up on this idea).
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And so, I am sure there will be a lot of bagel experimentation in my future, but as it stands, this recipe is pretty awesome. While it does take a decent amount of time, and is more involved in terms of active work than bread, it is really worth it. The trick is to make a huge batch and then freeze them. I can attest that they freeze beautifully and are a great snack (or meal) to have on hand. I have made chocolate chip, sesame, poppy seed, and cinnamon raisin variations from this recipe and they’ve always turned out great. It’s also a lot of fun to have a ‘bagel party’ and make them with a bunch of people.
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Montreal Bagels

12 large bagels or 15 smaller ones

Adapted from bigoven.com

I think these are perfect served with cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomatoes, onion and capers.

Make sure to freeze them once they cool down to preserve the 'fresh-out-of-the-oven' texture.

I've also made these vegan by replacing the egg in the dough with some chia gel (mix 1 tbs crushed chia seeds with 3 tbs water, let sit for ten minutes, until it turns into a gel) and it totally worked! You can just skip the egg wash and seeds, but keep an eye on them because they will brown quickly without them.

1 1/2 cups warm water
5 (65g) tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
8 grams active dry yeast
2 large eggs, DIVIDED (one is for the dough and one is for an egg wash)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
4-4 1/2 (630g) cups all purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup poppy seeds or sesame seeds
16 cups of water
1/3 cup honey
For chocolate bagels, add 1/2 cup of chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

In a large bowl whisk together the warm water, sugar, canola oil, yeast, egg and syrup. Combine until the yeast dissolves.

Stir in salt and one cup of the flour.

Add enough flour to make a shaggy, soft dough, about 3 cups.

Knead your dough for about 12 minutes, adding flour as needed as you go (I added an additional 1/2 cup, giving a total of 4 1/2 cups of flour). If you are making chocolate bagels (or raisin etc), knead in the chocolate chunks in the last minute of your kneading.

Once your dough is firm and smooth, cover with inverted bowl and let the dough rest 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 equal parts (for large bagels). Roll each piece into a 8-10 inch rope, then curve each one pressing together the ends to make a bagel shape. Make sure that the ends are firmly stuck together or they will come apart when you boil them. Note that your bagels will look pretty deformed at this point (the holes will be very big etc), but just remember that the dough really puffs up after they are boiled.

Let the shaped dough rise for 30 minutes

About five minutes before your dough is finished rising, fill a large pot with water (16 cups of water) and stir in the honey. Bring that to a boil.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Boil your bagels by placing them in the pot (3-4 at a time, you don't want them to be on top of one another), and boil for 45 seconds on each side (90 seconds total). Remove and let the water drain off onto a clean towel or paper towel.

In a small bowl whisk your egg and pour your seeds on a small plate.

Dip your bagel in the egg wash and then coat both sides in the seeds. Note, the bagels tend to get very dark in areas where they are not covered with seeds. If you are making chocolate chip or raisin bagels, I suggest that you still cover them with seeds. If you are not covering them with seeds, keep an eye on them in the oven to make sure that they don't burn.

Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes (they should be starting to get golden brown on the side touching the baking tray), then flip and bake another 6-8 minutes (until completely light, golden brown). This is really going to depend on your oven temperature. Usually the second side (and the second batch) bakes a lot faster than the first so keep an eye on it!

Cool the bagels on a cooling rack. Once completely cool, store in a freezer bag for a few days. Even better, freeze the majority of the bagels immediately after they are done cooling to preserve their texture.

http://mysecondbreakfast.com/montreal-bagels-recipe/

33 thoughts on “Montreal Bagels Recipe

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  3. Germaine Vitello

    What an Amazing looking bunch of Bagels! I’m a fan of Fairmount Bagels. When I used to lived in Montreal in the 90’s, we would drive from NDG to Fairmount at all kinds of hours to grab 4-5 dozens of sesame, cinnamon raisins bagels, then eat one right away… My last Montreal Bagels were St. Viateur’s, (somewhere in the west island) in the Summer of 2007.
    I missed Montreal Bagels so much! The only ones I get in Singapore are the NYC Bagels.
    I’m so making these bagels this weekend….. Thank you for this recipe!!
    Can’t wait to move back to Montreal!! Fairmount Bagels, Canadiens, Farmers’ Market….4 seasons!!!!

    Reply
  4. Seth

    Here in Brussels bagels seem to be hitting a level of trendiness in restaurants. I am determined to not be extorted for a bagel so I sought to make my own. I am I credibly fussy with the results of what I make but the bagels were incredible! My wife sent me to hunt for smoked salmon and cream cheese as soon as she tasted one.

    My family are from Montreal and you brought back memories of St-Viateur and the Snowden deli…

    Reply
    1. mysecondbreakfast Post author

      Seth, that’s so nice to hear! I know the comfort of a good bagel when you’re overseas (or outside of Montreal!)

      Reply
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  6. Gigi

    Just made them as per your recipe. They turn out wonderfully and that chew I was hoping for. Thank you for sharing. Will definitely make again. Debating now whether to freeze the rest of these or just make another batch. I’m leaning to make another batch. It’s that good! Thanks again.

    Reply
    1. mysecondbreakfast Post author

      Glad you enjoyed them. They freeze really, really well if that helps with your decision! You just defrost them in the microwave for about 30 seconds and then you can toast them or leave them untoasted- either way, they still taste super fresh. Although another batch can’t hurt either (:

      Reply
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  8. Jen

    These are awesome! I agree that they are a little softer on the outside. The 2nd time I made them, I made these modifications, and they turned out even more deliciously:
    – butter instead of oil,
    – brown sugar instead of white,
    – 1.25cups of whole wheat flour, 3.75 cups white flour
    – golden(light brown) sugar instead of honey in boiling water

    Reply
  9. yummalicious

    I made these montreal bagels on the weekend — I’m still in shock that they turned out so well! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe!

    Reply
    1. mysecondbreakfast Post author

      Glad you enjoyed them! I’m actually planning a bagel making party next weekend, yum! (:

      Reply
  10. Sarah

    Made these today and they turned out awesome! A little softer than the Montreal style bagels I am used to but still great. I ran out of sesame seeds for the last 4 bagels so substituted with chia seeds and that worked well too. Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. mysecondbreakfast Post author

      Glad to hear that you enjoyed them! Chia seeds is a great idea- I never would have thought of that

      Reply
  11. Barbara Sedassy

    In the early 1070’s I lived on Esplanade off St Viateur where the 24 hour Bagel Bakery was much visited – the oven, the bakers the fresh bagels -often middle of the night feasts. And every time I return to Montreal I return to the Bagel Bakery -mmmm
    Thank you for this site – I only found today –
    Now back living in UK I will be baking – my even have to build a wood oven in my Hertfordshire garden!

    Reply
    1. mysecondbreakfast Post author

      From what I understand you can substitute it no problem. The difference between the two is that active dry yeast has to be activated in water before it can be used (that’s why the yeast needs to froth in the water first in my recipe) and instant yeast does not. Instead of putting it in the water, just mix your instant yeast in with the dry ingredients. I also think you need about 6g of instant yeast (to replace 8g of active dry). Enjoy your bagels!

      Reply
  12. Colette

    I can’t wait to try these. Whenever I’m in Montreal I make a special trip to Fairmont bagel to take back to Nova Scotia. Now I am living in Baku, Azerbaijan. No bagels here!
    Years ago there was a great bagel shop in Halifax, they tasted like Montreal bagels. They told me they also boiled them in honey before baking them
    Guess I know how I am spending my day. Thanks for posting this.

    Reply
    1. mysecondbreakfast Post author

      So glad to hear you’re going to try this out- hope you enjoy! There’s nothing better than a Montreal bagel (:

      Reply
  13. ken

    I never see them boiled in the bakery when I watch. There is usually this big hunk of dough, they make the rings and right into the oven. Am I missing this step when I watch in the bakery?

    Reply
    1. mysecondbreakfast Post author

      From what I understood the boiling process was important for the texture and the crust of the bagels. Of course it’s possible that not everyone follows this step, but I thought it was part of the ‘hallmark’ of Montreal bagels. If you ask your bakery next time you go there I’d be curious to hear how they do it!

      Reply
      1. David

        Come to think of it, I also remember watching the bakers at Real Bagel on Queen Mary cutting strips off of huge hunks of dough, then magically spinning them onto wooden poles which went into the oven. Retrospect being what it is, I hazard to guess that I simply missed watching where they put the bagels into pots of boiling water. It’s clear from the consistency (chewy inside, crisp outside) of a fresh-from the brick oven bagel, that this step was crucial. Now that I’m living in Glasgow, Scotland, where they have these round things in the supermarket that they sometimes call “bagels” but have little to no similarity to St. Viateur or Fairmount or even Real Bagel, for that matter, I’ve been searching for some reprieve (especially since the lox around here is some of the best in the world). This is an excellent recipe (I’ve tried several), however I did notice some of the other Montreal bagel recipes called for malt syrup (or powder) as an ingredient for authenticity. I found some at the health food store and will try it and let you know how much closer it comes to perfection. We who have moved away from sources of Montreal bagels must stand together.

        Reply
        1. mysecondbreakfast Post author

          Yes, the bagels that I had in the UK were pretty dreadful (the ones I found anyway, I certainly didn’t try them all!). Now I feel confused about the boiling issue- I still feel fairly convinced that it is an essential part of the process but thinking back I’ve also never seen anyone do it in person (at a bagel shop). If anyone asks their local shop (there’s no one to ask around here!), please let us know! Yes, many recipes call for malt. I understood that it will give it a darker colour as it baked but I never got my hands on any and was completely satisfied with the taste/look of these. Do let me know what sort of different it makes if you try it and maybe I’ll have to hunt it down! I am glad you are enjoying them thus far though.

          Reply
          1. Lisa Pilcher

            Montreal bagels are definitely boiled. They are scooped out with a wire scoop drained over the pot and dumped into the mound or tray of seeds then they go on the the pole and into the oven. The boiling makes them chewy. The longer you boil the chewier they will be! Often the dough is mixed then stored over night in the refrigerator. More flavour with the long slow fermentation, and easier to shape as the dough is firm. Yumm I think its time to make some.
            Lisa

  14. Justine

    Oh my, you don’t know how happy I am finding your site. Thank you thank you so much for sharing this montreal bagels recipe! I didn’t know it was even possible to make those bagels at home and I have missed them a lot.

    I had my first taste of Montreal bagels while traveling in Montreal a few years back, and took home with me 4 dozens of them. Luckily for me, there is a bakery in Vancouver that specializes in Montreal bagels (though I don’t think they taste like St. Viateur’s, not the same, not the same). But now I am in Asia, people don’t eat bagels, or whatever they call bagels aren’t really bagels :S

    Reply
    1. mysecondbreakfast Post author

      Your message just made my day! I hope that you make the bagels and enjoy them. I always have some in my freezer and after a bit of practice, I really can’t tell the difference between them and the real deal (:

      Reply
  15. Hilary

    Go Montreal! :) I have been living here for 7 years and I agree, Montreal bagels by far exceed other varieties (including New York bagels!)… at least in my opinion!
    These bagels look great, and I can’t wait to try them out myself.

    Reply
    1. mysecondbreakfast Post author

      Woohoo! I hope you enjoy. They are a lot of fun to make. Although, I have to admit, nothing beats fresh from the oven Fairmont bagels right at your doorstep…!

      Reply

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