Fast Food Catering

The Boiling And Bagels Connection

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A shiny crust, a crunchy exterior, and a chewy interior. These are the traits that make a New York bagel, well, a New York bagel. The secret: It should always be boiled. The use of any other cooking method, such as steaming, is absolutely unacceptable because it will not produce the characteristics of the New York bagel. Here’s why.

The Water Isn’t the Secret

According to an urban myth, the wonderful texture and flavor of the New York bagel partly lies in the city’s water. This is because it has low levels of magnesium and calcium and, thus, it’s considered as a softer water.  

But the Big Apple’s water only plays a minor role in getting the right balance between crunchy and chewy. Science has proven that the hardness of the water can influence the gluten in the dough – hard water toughens it while soft water results in a goopy dough.

So if you eat bagels that are nothing more than bread with a hole in it, no matter where you are in the United States, then you know that it isn’t the water per se.  

The Boiling Is the Secret

But before the boiling, there’s the retarding. Basically, the shaped dough will be left to sit in the fridge for two days or so. The cooler temperature allows a longer and slower fermentation, which also slows down the yeast activity while still allowing the dough to rise. The dough will also be tastier because the microbes were able to optimize their flavor compounds.  

And then comes the boiling part, which bagel experts say is the secret to making the true New York bagel. The chilled dough rings should be placed in a boiling water-and-malt barley solution for 30 seconds (i.e., poached) to 3 minutes (i.e., boiled) depending on the desired color and consistency. The solution on which the dough rings are poached or boiled also vary from one bakery to the next.  

Either one achieves the same purpose – to gelatinize the dough’s starch content, lock in its liquid, and expand its interior, as well as create a chewier texture without undercooking. The result should be the shiny crust, crunchy exterior, and chewy interior of a true bagel.  

Just so you don’t get inferior bagels, especially when you’re serving it to your family, friends, and colleagues, you have to buy it from a reliable bakery like Einstein Bagels.  You can skip on the mixing, kneading and boiling and just get right to enjoying every bite of your bagel.  

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