BiblioBagels: My Adventures in Bagel Chemistry (Part 2)

In yesterday’s post, I was on a quest to make Montreal bagels with the help of the library’s resources. A friend had just told me about the process of retarding the dough (placing it in the fridge overnight before boiling and baking the bagels). I was curious about this mysterious-sounding process and decided to investigate further.

I found a delightfully technical article called “A Laboratory-Scale Bagel-Making Procedure” in the journal Cereal Chemistry. Although the library didn’t carry this journal, our wonderful interlibrary loan service obtained a copy for me. Eureka! Complete with scientific analyses of bagel texture and electron micrographs of dough structure, this study showed that retarding was indeed the key.  Continue reading “BiblioBagels: My Adventures in Bagel Chemistry (Part 2)”

BiblioBagels: My Adventures in Bagel Chemistry (Part 1)

Seattle is not a bagel town. It’s nearly impossible to get a genuine bagel here. Sure, lots of places claim to sell the real thing, but they’re only a pale imitation. And don’t even get me started on bagels from a grocery store—those are just lifeless circles of bread masquerading as bagels.

What is a real bagel, you ask? Some swear by New York bagels, but after living many years in Canada, I dissent: Montreal bagels are, hands-down, the best. More dense and chewy than the traditional fare, they’re also slightly sweeter from being boiled in honey water before baking. Beautifully pictured in Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition, they have a larger hole and seeds on both sides.

Recently a Canadian-style bakery opened in Seattle, but it doesn’t claim to make authentic Montreal bagels. Other than that, nothing even remotely resembling them is available here. What’s a Montreal bagel addict to do? Make them myself, of course. Never mind that I’d never baked anything in my life: I had the library’s formidable culinary resources at my fingertips! Continue reading “BiblioBagels: My Adventures in Bagel Chemistry (Part 1)”