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Friday, July 04, 2014

Welcome to the real-deal world of bagel baking

Terrace Bagels, Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! In honor of Independence Day, I'm celebrating my independence from Santa Fe's lack of proper bagels.

One of the best parts of returning to NYC is of course, the bread. Many of the old-time bakeries have disappeared, but the ones that remain are treasures. I recently discovered this bagel bakery and appetizing store around the corner from my friend George Ryan's apartment (where his family has been living for the past 60 years — when you get a good apartment in the city you do not give it up!). On George's recommendation I went over to Terrace Bagels. The bins were all full and I asked which one was hot, expecting the usual answer which is "none" and he said the whole wheat everything, so that's what I had with a schmear of chive cream cheese. I sat down on the sidewalk to enjoy. It was one of the best bagels I have ever had! The moment I finished (which was about 1 1/2 minutes later) I walked back in and said "I would like to talk to the man who makes the bagels." I was then introduced to Louis Thompson, the owner, who welcomed me into the kitchen and was happy to answer my questions and let me photograph the process. I went in twice to photograph the process: at night to watch the rolling process; and in the morning to watch the baking process.

Some of the questions I asked Louis:
  • What kind of flour do you use?
    Pillsbury high gluten flour, "the best and most expensive of flours."
  • Do you add anything to the water when you boil the bagels and how long do you boil them?
    Just NYC tap water, and you boil them till they float and they look done.
  • What do you use for sweetener in the bagels?
    Malt barley syrup, no sugar.
  • How hot is your oven and how long do they bake?
    500 degrees about 12 minutes in a large oven with rotating shelves, it varies do to the weather and humidity.
  • What do you bake them on?
    We bake them on thin metal racks covered with burlap soaked in water for the first half, then we turn them directly on to the metal shelves in the oven and bake the other side. We then pick them up onto wood peels and dump them into milk cartons.
  • How do you proof them?
    When they proof they let out moisture and form a skin. We roll the dough into the bagel shape and refrigerate them overnight, we then bake more throughout the day.
  • What are you working on next?
    Next project, gluten-free bagels!

Enjoy the Photos!

Rolling bagels

Lots of rolled bagels!

Mixing the dough

The bagels go into the oven

Milk crates full of finished bagels

Water-soaked, burlap-lined, metal oven racks

Bagels in boiling water

Scooping bagels out of the water


Unknown said...

Jeez, now I want to move back. I used to live on East Ninth between First and Second Avenue, over a Chinese laundry and across the street from a wonderful old Russian bakery. My stomach is growling.

Monica said...

You're gonna disown me, Stacy, but my favorite bagels of all time were the chocolate ones (with chocolate chips!) that I'd pick up on Fridays near my office in Baltimore and take down to Arlington, Virgina where I'd spend weekends with Bram. We'd have them Saturday morning, toasted with cream cheese while watching Mystery Science 3000.

Monica said...

Yeah, it wasn't really about the bagels... lol!