The second week of the Great Canadian Baking Show featured bagels for the technical bake, but no ordinary bagels – a Montreal style bagel.
So what makes a bagel a Montreal style bagel? Looking back in history it is believed that the bagel originated in Jewish communities of Poland, fast forward a few hundred years and immigrants to New York and Montreal started baking bagels. The Montreal style is differentiated from the New York style as being smaller, sweeter and denser. The key ingredient making them sweeter, is the use of honey in the dough and also in the water they are boiled in prior to baking. The Montreal bagels are also traditionally baked in wood fired ovens.
The Bagel technical bake was won this week by Terri Thompson (yah she is from the Edmonton area!). On the show the bakers were given all ingredients they needed to make the bagels, along with a recipe that was missing some key bits of information. Those of us following along were lucky to be able to use a more complete recipe (here), and also having watched the bakers on the show, and learn from their experience. The bakers also had 2 hours 10 minutes to complete the bake from start to finish.
I set out to try this bake within the same 2 hours 10 minutes.
So let’s get going!
The day before I read the recipe to make sure I had all of the ingredients. As I do a lot of bread baking, I happened to have everything that was called for!
0 Minutes – The first thing I do is turn on the oven and put my baking stone on the bottom rack. I give the recipe a read, and assemble all my ingredients and tools.
2 Minutes – One thing to note with the recipe is the ingredients are given in weights, which makes the baker in me happy! With all the ingredients assembled I begin bringing them all together, I opted to use my stand mixer rather than mixing and kneading by hand. This actually got Corey Shefman into a bit of trouble on the show as his ended up being a bit over kneaded.
15 Minutes – The dough is all kneaded and ready for the initial proof, which is only 30 minutes for this recipe (I am use to much longer proof in my baking).
45 Minutes – It is now time to divide the dough into portions, and then shape the bagels. There are 2 ways to do this. The first as described in the recipe is to make a 10-12 inch rope, bring it around so you have about a one inch overlap seal the two pieces and make sure you have the bagel shape. The second way is to form a smooth ball, just like in making buns, flatten it slightly, then push your thumb through the middle and the gently stretch out the hole. My prefered method is the second one.
1 hour 0 minutes – With the bagels all shaped, they get another 30 minute final proof. At this time I also got my pot of water on the stove to heat up and be ready to boil.
1 hour 35 minutes – Oops I got distracted and went over the 30 minutes a bit! I add the honey to the pot – oh my that is a lot of honey in the recipe! The bagels are placed in the pot of simmering water for about 2 minutes, flipped halfway. After they are boiled I placed them on a cutting board with some paper towel to absorb some of the excess water. They are then placed on a baking sheet, while the other bagels are boiled. I always put some of the seeds on the baking sheet first and then the bagel and then top with the seeds (for these I stayed with the traditional sesame seeds and poppy seeds). On the show they had the bakers using bagel boards, which I believe was overkill for the ovens they were using, and caused some issues for the bakers.
1 hour 50 minutes – All the bagels are boiled, I now place them on a baking stone, and also on another preheated baking sheet (I do this since I am trying to do this in the same time as on the show, otherwise I would have done 2 batches on the baking stone).
2 hours 5 minutes – The bagels are all nice and browned in 15 minutes, I remove them from the oven onto a rack so they can cool a bit, then placed them on a board for the final picture.
The bagels were well received by my judges, but they found them a bit sweeter than what we usually taste with bagels in our home, and prefer the bagels I normally make (yah for me!!!). There are two recipes that I use: one is similar to this one, but I do much longer proofs, and I use either malted barley syrup or molasses, instead of honey in the water, and only a couple of tablespoons not 350 g!; the other recipe I follow, is from Stella Parks (aka @bravetart) which you can find here, which uses an ingenious method of a yukone (you pre-cook some flour and water on the stove) to get the great chewyness.
Looking forward to next week, it is dessert week!
They worked great for a few breakfast sandwiches!