Those who visited New York City and wanted to eat something local, bumped for sure into the Bagels. It’s a circular bakery product with a hole in the middle, cut horizontally and stuffed in several ways. Despite being sort of an “official” New York food, the Bagels appears to have been created in Europe.
There are several stories about it: according to some, the bagel circulated in Europe since the 1600s among the German Jewish communities as the obsolete Yiddish word “beygel” sounds similar to the word “beugel” in the Austrian variation of the German language (both meaning “ring” and “croissant”). According to others, the bagel is the creation of a Polish baker of Jewish roots, who moved to Vienna and in 1683 made a stirrup shaped bread to celebrate the defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the king of Poland.
In the 1800s several Jews moved to the United States and the recipe travelled with them.
Whatever is the story you prefer there is one undeniable truth: the bagel is the most recognised New York food since long, regardless of its origins, and it is just since few years ago that Europe started preparing it again, as if that was the end of an intercontinental round trip journey. However, despite the mastery of European baking tradition, it is only in New York that you can have the best bagels on earth.
I am giving you my own personal recipe, thus I beg your pardon in advance if you find it not fully sticking to tradition.
Note: many recipes you find on the internet make use of Manitoba flour that, being rich in gluten, makes bakery products more fluffy, however I do prefer to use a low refined wheat flour such as “antiqua” that is poorer in gluten and supplies the same result. I also use dry yeasts instead of fresh one for a better proportion of quantities. You can choose the ingredients you prefer based on your own personal taste.
Ingredients for 6 Bagels
270 gr. of Wheat Flour (0 type)
30 gr. of dry yeast (made from sourdough)
1 ½ glass of warm water + 2 lt. for boiling
2 tablespoons of cane sugar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspon of salt
Poppy seeds and oatflakes
1 tablespoon of potato starch
Put the flour in a big bowl together with dry yeast and a tablespoon of salt. Take ½ glass of warm water, put 2 tablespoon of olive oil in it + 2 tablespoons of cane sugar and mix vigorously until the sugar melts and the oil mixes well with the water.
Put the content of the glass in the bowl and start mixing with a spoon, add water when necessary but not too much (or the dough will turn into an irreversibly sticky mass). When it gets to a good elastic and homogeneous consistency, dust a surface with flour and knead for approximately 5-7 minutes, then wrap it with a film and let it rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
Take the dough and divide it into 6 pieces of the same size. Roll each piece with your hands (as if you were making gnocchi) into a 20 – 22 cm. long cylinders. Then, join the ends to form a ring shaped dough. Place all the rings on a baking tray previously covered with parchment paper, wrap with film and let them rest for 2 hours at room temperature.
Fill a tall pot with 2 litres of water, add a tablespoon of potato starch and heat until boiling. One by one, boil each ring for 1 minute each side (the bagels tend to float thus making it easy to turn them upside down) then, take them out and, while they are still wet, sprinkle poppy seeds on some and oatflakes on others and put them again on the tray
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 °C for approximately 20/25 minutes until they turn into a golden brown colour. Let them cool down, cut them horizontally and stuff as you like.
In New York the most common filling is with salmon and fresh cheese but you basically can stuff it as you want, depending on your personal taste. I make them very simple with tomato slices, lettuce and ham, dressing it with few drops of olive oil and salt.
Note: it is said that home-made bagels stay fresh up to 5 hours. I have to admit that it is true, thus, do not make too many at the same time as they won’t taste the same the next day.