The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bronx Bagels

jaltsc's picture

Bronx Bagels

I remember the old fashion bagels from my youth. Today's bagels, even those in NYC, are much larger, paler, and not as dense as the ones I remember. Contrary to popular belief, the original bagels were much smaller than today's. They were 2-3 ounces. I make mine around 3 1/2 ounces (90-95 grams after baking). I grew up in the Bronx and use to watch the union bagel bakers from local shop 338 forming and baking bagels at the Nelson Avenue bagel bakery. The guy who formed the bagels would cut a two inch square section from a large block of dough. His left hand would roll the piece into a cylinder shape, wrap the dough around his right hand snap off the right size piece and roll it into the proper shape. I don't have their skill. However I use the rope/dog bone method (described in the following recipe) and get quite good results. The hole is large after forming and after the boiling. It shrinks during bakes as the bagel expands during baking. I find the hole necessary for proper baking. I also bake the bagels on wooden slats. I use 1/3" (1 cm) teak wood which fit into sheet pans. The original wood used was redwood. I find this prevents the bottoms from becoming flat, harder and browner than the tops. I turn the bagels over when they reach the proper color. If I put on toppings, I dip the bagels into the desired topping right after boiling and place them with the topping side down until I put them on the wood, right side up. This helps the toppings stick. The results I get are bagels with dense and crisp surfaces and a slightly softer interior.  The process is a bit complex, but the results are excellent. Luckily for the diaspora who have decided to retire in my small village, smoked salmon and Philadelphia cream cheese are now available at our local market.


 1500 Gms +3/4(70 gm)  C          Bread flour

       2                              T          Wheat Gluten (Much better texture)

  900                               Gms      Water    (57.6% Hydration)

      2                              T          Diastatic malt powder  

      2                              T          Salt      

 100                               Gms.     Sourdough Starter

     1                               t           Yeast


Combined all ingredients including salt. Autolyzed  for 15 minutes

Mixed for 8 minutes.

Dough was dense and smooth. Good window pain.

TOTAL WEIGHT:     2675 gms.

Let rest for 90 minutes in refrigerator Dough was very smooth.

Divided each batch of dough into two pieces (4 batches altogether).

Left half in refrigertator to keep cool.

Weighed out 12 bagels @ 110gms.

Formed rolls and then formed into logs.

Rolled into 14 inch dog bone shaped rope.

Formed bagels by wrapping rope around my hand and rolling the thicker ends until they blended into each other.

Placed in pans, with moderate dusting of cornmeal. Covered with plastic

Let rise for 20minutes.

Repeated with other batch

Refrigerator was at very cold setting. Dough was very chilled, solid, but not frozen.


Placed trays into freezer for 20 minutes to get full chill and make dough more solid. 


Added 2 T blackstrap molasses (To help with coloring during baking) and 4T baking soda (To produce a tougher surface).

Boiled, starting with flat side down.Removed as soon as they floated to the top.

Put on toppings and set them face side down.

Turned them face side up and placed on boards.

Keeping Bagels extra cold had very positive effect on maintaining the proper shape and density.

Baked @ 400F+ degrees on middle shelf.

 Turned trays around after 5 minutes. Maintained 400F Degrees.

Baked until bagels turned medium brown. About 10 minutes. (Times may vary depending on oven used)

 Turned turned bagels side down. 

Turned trays around after 7 minutes (19 minutes total time).

Baked additional 12 minutes, for total time of  34 minutes.



andychrist's picture

Are those capers?

jaltsc's picture

In the directions, I left out that the bagels are chilled in the refrigerator for 12-18 hours.

jaltsc's picture

Yes. they are capers. It's amazing how many western food products are available in Asia these days.

andychrist's picture

Oh is that where you are now? 

I'm from the Bronx too, the Kingsbridge/VanCordtland area. Where I lived we had the larger pillowy bagels with a wide range of toppings including sesame-garlic, but in adjacent neighborhoods they sold the smaller original kind, always just plain.

I assume you used Instant Yeast, as you say to mix all ingredients together at once?

isand66's picture

Great looking bagels and nice write-up. My last SD bagels were duds so I'm going to try your formula soon.

Where in Asia are you living?  I have traveled to China many times over the last 10 years.


jaltsc's picture

The yeast is instant. I use the sourdough starter more as a natural dough conditioner. It interacts with the yeast, controls the rising in the refrigerator, and results in a desirable texture. The outside of the bagels are crisp and the inside have a smooth, albeit dense texture. As with the old fashioned bagels, if you don't freeze the ones you don't eat immediately as soon as they cool, they will turn hard in 6 hours. However, one hour out of the oven, they taste like heaven. I also bake bialys if anyone wants that recipe.