Bagels are Jewish, yep, and they have got me thoroughly interested in Kosher food (but thats another blog). I resently tryed my hand at bagel making. Whats that you say? "A Seattle bagel??? Blasphemy!" Well your right, it wasn't great, or good, but it was okay for a first go. There are always things to improve on! Anyway it was a fairly invogorating project...I always make it my duty to do research on whatever I'm making.
And of course the art of bagel making is disputed. The way to shape your bagel, what to boil the bagel in, and the temperature and time of cooking the bagel are different depending the recipe you look at. I used the recipe from my bread maker. The dough was great (thanks bread maker makers!) but the cooking instruction left the bagels too pale (it was ugly in general but that was mostly my fault). I think I should try boiling my bagels in caramel water or barley malt syrup as the bagel was lacking a little in sweetness.
There are also Montreal bagels (tambien). "In contrast with the New York-style bagel, the Montreal bagel is smaller, sweeter and denser, with a larger hole, and is always baked in a wood-fired oven. It contains malt, egg, and no salt, and is boiled in honey-sweetened water before being baked in a wood-fired oven, whose irregular flames give it a random dappled light-and-dark surface colour. There are two predominant varieties: black-seed (poppyseed), or white-seed (sesame seed). Some purists object to any variation on this theme, though most bagel bakeries now offer many additional varieties (including Matzah-like flat breads)." I got all this information from wikipedia! (I couldn't source that tidbit gracefully forgive me)
As I well know by now I love variety and can’t wait to try new combinations, toppings, and spreads, but at the same time I should be able to enjoy a good bagel plain (but still with butter because butter makes everything better!).
As stated by Jim Berman on cheftalk.com (note the graceful citation)“Variety matters, as my students are quick to point out, "hey chef, there are more flavors than vanilla," when I go on a tirade about how overlooked vanilla is equated with plain. Oscar Wilde gave us wisdom in "the world would be a boring a place if we all shared the same sense of humor." I agree. Variety is, after all, proverbially speaking the spice of life. Except with bagels. The best bagel is the plain bagel. In all seriousness, when trying a new pizza joint, you do yourself a disservice by sampling the first slice garbed in mushrooms, onions, pepperoni and sweet peppers. The real experience comes from taking in the flavor of the sauce, cheese and crust. The same goes for bagels. Sure, there are countless shmears, smears and spreads. And a little cream cheese does well to accent the flavor of a good bagel. But, why mask the real flavor of a bagel with some horrific concoction? Fear the sundried tomato and pesto bagel. Run the opposite direction of the rosemary and olive roll with the hole.”