The Rebirth Of The Bagel
Bagels in New York City are serious business. Unfortunately, the recent trend of over-inflated, machine-made monstrosities has taken over every coffee shop from Brighton Beach to Van Cortlandt Park. But the tides are turning in favor of the traditional, handmade bagel varieties. Several new shops are planning to open in the next year that will dish out the circular breads using the styles and traditions of the Old World. Add in some house-made cream cheese and you have the locally-produced artisan bagel of every Brooklynites’ dreams.
The bagel: A history
Bagels were likely first introduced to this country in the 1800s by Jewish immigrants living in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The technique of boiling bagels gives them a protective coating that keeps them fresh longer. The International Beigel Bakers Union was established in 1907 and took over all aspects of bagel production in the city. At this time, the bagel had yet to rise to national prominence and remained a largely regional food strictly tied to Jewish culture. So closely related were bagels and Judaism that one could determine a neighbor’s religion by their ability to recognize the disc of bread. It wouldn’t be until the 1960s when Murray Lender began selling the popular buns in frozen sleeves of six that the bagel would become a national phenomenon.
Back to basics
Tired of the commercially-produced bagels currently available, a number of chefs are opening their own shops to sell handmade versions. The New York Post is reporting that shops such as Baz Bagel, Black Seed and a yet-to-be-named project by former Per Se baker Melissa Weller will be producing bagels the old fashioned way. Each outpost will put its own unique spin on the final product. Baz Bagel is priding itself on the traditional production methods it is employing. Hand-rolled bagels will be boiled and cooked on burlap-covered boards in small batches. Meanwhile, Black Seed is opting for a hybrid Manhattan-Quebec style bagel. Their product will be unique in its use of honey in both the dough and the water the bagels are cooked in. Melissa Weller will be reviving a recipe she used to sell bagels at the Smorgasburg food flea market last year. Her secret ingredient is sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast.
All in all, online cooking school students living in New York City can look forward to a plethora of new bagel options in the coming months.