The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Montreal Bagels

michaelmonte's picture

Montreal Bagels

Has anyone got a recipe for Montreal Bagels that isn't Marcy Goldman's?

I've been using the recipe from Bread Bible to make NY bagels, but Montreal bagels are a bit different. I found the Goldman recipe too sweet, so I'm definitely cutting back on the sugar (a whopping 5 tablespoons). She also specifies boiling in honey-infused water - again, sweet.

The bagels I'm trying to recreate are like those from St. Viateur bagel in Montreal - they have a very white, very close crumb, and are very well cooked. It would be interesting to compare recipes. Goldman's bagels are good in their own right if you like sweeties, but they don't do it for me.

kenaparsons's picture

Try "Home Baking" by Alford and Duguid (who are from Toronto and have lived in Montreal, if I'm not mistaken).

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

I'm resurrecting this thread...  I have recently started trying to replicate the famous St Viateur bagel that michaelmonte mentioned here too. 


If you haven't tried them, they're fantastic, you can get them online.


Here's a link from their website with some information as to how they're made.


Can anyone be of any help on this one?   LOL I highly recommend you order some and see what I'm talking about, then try to replicate them too. :)

At first I thought they were pricey online at $36 but that's for 12 packages of 6, so a few bucks a pack.  Sesame are the best by far IMHO.  They freeze well for toasting.


Anyone have any advice, recipes, etc. for a good dense malty Montreal bagel?


Bagelman1127's picture

Hi, Vince from St-Viateur Bagel. I am flattered that people want to emulate us.  The recipe is not the solution to making our bagels, the oven is.  As most know, our bagels are baked in a 100% wood-burning oven.  Our Master bakers need a minimum of 3 months training in order to learn the baking process and years before they truly understand it.  Our bagels (and I have tried it) turn into balloons when cooked in a regular oven whether at home or another bakery.

One tip however, when rolling out the bagel, try to compress all the air out of it before boing it at high heat.

Or push the EASY button and call me to order.  thanks vince

michaelmonte's picture


It's been quite a while since I posted the original, never thinking I'd get this kind of response!

I'll try this method (and of course, I'll stop in next time I'm in Montreal).


bwraith's picture

Although the links below are for sourdough bagels, the recipes and techniques slightly modified to use only instant yeast should result in a very good yeasted bagel, too. I am not familiar with Montreal bagels, but the ones below, if done right, are very dense and chewy, like what I would find in a good old-time bagel shop in NYC.

Some of the key things are very low hydration dough, use of some or all first clear flour, use of high gluten flour, boiling only briefly in water with bicarbonate of soda or lye added, not letting them rise too much while shaping or after taken out of the refrigerator, and use of malt syrup for color and the right amount of sweetness.

It may be hard to duplicate the baking environment, no question. However, I think the bagels that resulted from the recipe above were very close to "the real thing", as far as my experience goes here in the NYC area. Also you may want to search on the site for posts from "Stan" (elagins is the username) about bagels. He had a lot of helpful information when I was trying to figure out how to do bagels at home.


buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

Vince!  Wow!!!  I had no idea you were around this place, I'm fairly new here.


BTW, you are the bagel god, not the bagel man!  Your bagels I must say, I think are the best in the world, and by far over others I've tasted.  Now I don't want to get myself into trouble with New Yorkers, but Montreal really is the place for bagels.  When Montrealers want a hemerhoid pillow, they use a NY bagel, when they want a good one to eat, they go to St-Viateur!  (she ducks for cover and runs out of the room... )  Can't believe I said that out loud, just jokin' around...


And Vince, I'm so glad to hear it's the oven that's the secret and not the recipe, then you won't mind giving me the recipe, LOL wink wink!


Thanks Bill for your suggestions.  I have made those sourdough bagels from susanfnp, nothing like.  Enjoyable in a different way, but not the bagel I'm after.  I'll do the search you suggested too, and keep at it.


Vince, you want to throw me a few more "crumbs" ?  say hydration %, sugar and is it just regular granulated cane sugar, or any more info on the malt or flour you use?  Just a little "tease" ;)


Of course I will press the easy button from time to time and order them, and eventually another trip to Montreal!  


I highly recommend your bagels to all here! 


Vince, thanks for the pleasure and enjoyment they have brought my husband and me!







bwraith's picture

Well, I can take a joke, or why would I be living in New Jersey?

You can still find true bagels in the tri-state area, although there are a lot of "bread bagel" places.

I think much of what makes a bagel come out right has to do with fairly subtle issues, like exactly how long you let them rise measured literally in minutes if not seconds, the hydration, and the flour choice, to say nothing of the oven details mentioned by Vince. The susanfnp recipe or the other ones I linked can easily be made to come out all fluffy and bready with only subtle changes in the shaping, hydration, flour choice, and amount of yeast. Maybe they aren't what you're looking for, but they seemed authentic to me, especially the second time I made them (the revisited link).

Or, maybe there is some particular variation you guys are into from Montreal that I'm not familiar with that is just completely different from NYC's old style bagels. I'd have to question whether it's really a bagel in that case, though, hehe. OK, OK, just joking. I'm sure the Montreal ones are both real and extraordinary.

If there is a true difference in style between Montreal and NYC bagels, not just subtle qualitative difference, I'd be interested to hear what it is, if there is someone who is dialed into the real thing in both places and could put a finger on the difference. However, if you describe NYC's bagels as "pillows", then you clearly were not in a true bagel spot. A real bagel should be very chewy and dense, not fluffy and bready, at least that's my experience.


PastryPaul's picture

Ok, so I'm replying to an ancient thread.... who cares?

There is a difference between Montreal and NY bagels. A little history may be in order here. Bagels originated in Eastern Europe. Towards the end of the 19th century, begining of the 20th, there was an exodus from Eastern Europe towards the west. Those immigrants brought with them their cultures and favourite baked goods, namely the bagel and the cheesecake (as well as rye bread, kanishes, etc). The immigrants mostly headed to the two most prominent North American cities of their time, Montreal and New York, the gateways to the Better Life. The two cities had many similarities... Both where multi-cultural, multi-demoninational, and both accepted  (more or less) the integration of other cultures. In fact, the cities where very similar. Both had large greenspaces at their heart, Central Park and Mont Royal Park, that where designed by the same man. Both had extensive public transport systems and both where on major waterways.

I would venture a guess that New York style cheesecake and New York style bagels did not really exist until WW1 when eggs where in serious short supply in New York. The Eastern Europeans, who were now New Yorkers, had a choice between quitting their beloved cheesecakes and bagels, or figuring out some other way to make them. Since New Yorkers rarely quit, they figured it out.

In Montreal, we call a New York bagel a "water bagel." In New York, Montreal bagels are called "egg bagels." New York bagels are therefore more bread-like and are great for bagel sandwiches. They are also formed differently from Montreal bagels. New York bagels are formed into a ball, the middle of which is poked open by the thumbs and then the result is twirled around the fingers. Consequently, their central hole is significantly smaller than their Montreal couterpart. Smaller hole = less crust too.

The Montreal bagel is formed by cutting a strip off the dough mass and hand rolling it into a rope shape. That rope is then wrapped around the hand with the two ends at the heel of the hand. It is then rolled on a hard surface to bind the two ends together.

IMHO The Montreal bagel is superior in taste and mouth feel. The New York bagel stays fresh longer, is more easily mass-produced (THAT is the resaon behind NY "pillow" bagels NOT the orginal recipe/method), and makes a better sandwich bagel. As far as the two cheesecakes go, the New York cheese cake with its lower egg use, is much more versatile, creamy, and downright more yummy than our Montreal cheesecakes with their greater use of eggs.

Those early 20th century bakers did the best they could out of a bad situation. Their results are excellent, since they created a good, nearly the same but more mass-producable version of a classic, and vastly improved another. Hats off, Ladies and Gentlemen, in honor of the geniuses who came before us.

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

LOL and thanks Bill for your info and help and especially for putting up with my irreverent joke!

 And I know what you're saying and I have had non-pillowy NYC bagels.

bwraith's picture

I'm relieved to know it isn't just my imagination and that we may have a worthy bagel within the NYC metro area somewhere. Otherwise, I might even get grumpy and lose my sense of humor thinking about the slow loss of all sacred rituals and traditions.

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

well, no need for grumpiness, as NYC cheesecake reigns supreme, so a slice of the right one will cure any potential grumpies.  :)

cordel's picture

Have you guys heard of Montreal Cheesecake? Some of the bagel and smoked meat places in Montreal make a mean cheesecake, as well! (smiley thing)

MsLaynie's picture

Hi Bill,


As the great grand daughter of the founder of the Original Montreal Bagel, I can assure you there is a great difference between Montreal style bagel's and all the rest. 

I'm sure Vince would agree when I say that there is no better bagel than a Montreal bagel!!



melovecookies's picture

Do you mind sharing your recipe?

JeffG's picture

OK I grew up in NY and got used to some of the best bagels in the world. When I met my wife she lived 2 blocks from H & H on 79th and BWay and then I thought I'd really tasted the best bagels. Then I moved to Toronto and I thought the NY style bagels there were pretty bad (sorry whatabagel but you suck and your expensive) so it inspired me to try to bake my own. So I looked up NY style bagel receipes and while I was doing that I came across an article that said that the the best bagels in the world were right around the corner from me at Gryfe's. So I checked them out. Montreal style bagels are lighter and smaller than NY style. its the difference between a loaf of french bread and a dinner roll. Both are good. Best is a personal preference. But I like Onion, garlic and Salt and all those good toppings they put on bagels in NY. Not a big fan of sesame or poppy so plain will always be plain to me (ya hear Canada!). Now Most NY style bagels are 60 grams of carbs so I have stopped eating so much of my favorite food. But there is a place in Basking Ridge, NJ called O'Bagel, that make a really good low carb bagel. They say is only 4 Grams of carbs and it the size of a regular NY style. Not sure if I believe them. H & H bagels hot out of the oven are still the best on earth.

feebee45's picture

Gryfe's bagels are delicious - but they are not Montreal style bagels. 

Montreal style bagels are delicious as well, though completely different.

i am jelous of all of you - since I live in Chicago and we have NO good bagels!

JeffG's picture

NY Style Cheesecake baked by little Red Hen bakery in NY is some of the best I've ever tasted but for mass market. Eli's cheesecake out of Chicago is some of the best. I do like that montreal smoked meat but I have never been able to recognize what part of the animal its from. Maybe I just like those triangle rolls they serve it on.

saltandserenity's picture

On the subject of the best bagels, I know that there is no way I can ever convince Montrealers that their bagels are not the best so I won't even jump into that argument.  I just have to say, for the record, that I grew up in Toronto and there is nothing like the crunch of a Bagel World Poppyseed Twister!! (Forget the fact that one of these bagels is about 800 calories)

breadman1015's picture

Here's a recipe that I developed a while back when I used to live in Montreal.


Montreal Bagels
(about 13)
1 kg Bread Flour
2 grams Yeast
40 grams Sugar
9 grams Malt Powder
1 Egg
434 grams Water
2-1/2 tsp. Canola Oil
Preheat the oven to 460°F. Line two half sheet pans with parchment.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle, combine all of the ingredients at low speed. Instal the dough hook and knead at medium speed until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Allow the dough to rest, covered, for 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot (a Dutch oven or stock pot) full of water on to boil and add 2 tablespoons of Barley Malt Syrup. Divide dough (115 grams) and form into 14” logs. Form into “doughnuts”. Allow to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Boil a few “doughnuts” at a time until they float, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to the prepared pans. (If topping, dip in topping - sesame seed, poppy seeds, garlic flakes, etc - before placing them on the prepared pans.)

Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. (If the Bagels are becoming too dark after 10 minutes, reduce temperature to 420°F.)

jweissmn's picture

If I'm reading your recipe right, there's no rising time whatsoever.  is that really right?  Not even 20 minutes rest or something?

- Jessica

breadman1015's picture

I apologize. I've corrected the formula. I use a 10 gallon pot and it takes about 30 minutes to bring to a boil so I didn't think about it. Since I'm in no rush when scaling and forming, it takes me about 15 minutes from start to finish, so I start boiling them (3-at-a-time) when I finish forming.

canadiancook's picture

I've used the recipe from "Noreen's Cuisine" it's a food processor recipe that came out in early 80's.  She's a Jewish cook from Montreal, the bagels are fabulous.  The book is also fabulous, not a bad recipe in it.  Try googling from Chapters. 

mjloboda's picture

Growing up in Chicago we had both egg and water bagels. While I have had both NY and Montreal Bagels, real Chicago Bagels from bakeries like Kaufman's are the best. Even the NY Bagel and Bialy makes both kinds in Chicago - give them a try if you get a chance.

Ed Wood's Classic Sourdough book has a great egg bagel recipe.