Monday, August 6, 2012

San Francisco-Style Bagels – Taking Things to a Hole New Level

Okay, first things first; there’s no such thing as a “San Francisco-Style Bagel.” This gorgeous city has lots of amazing food traditions, but the bagel isn’t one of them. So, when I accidentally stumbled upon a method for making bagels that were structurally and texturally superior, I decided to take advantage of that fact, and the SF-style bagel was born.

Will it catch on nationally? Highly doubtful, but that’s fine. I’ll settle for a simple wikipedia entry. Thanks to a softer, stickier dough, and an alternative boiling method, these unconventional beauties are thinner, crinklier, and toast up like no other bagel I’ve ever had.

How people can eat un-toasted bagels is one of the great mysteries of the universe. To me, a cold bagel is nothing more than a dense, insipid, donut-shaped roll. What makes the bagel such a wonderful thing is the interplay between the pleasantly chewy inside and the crisp, crunchy outside.

Unfortunately, with traditional bagels, there’s often too much of the former, and not enough of the later. With these, that’s not an issue. We’ve maximized crusty surface area, while eliminating about an inch of bready filler. By the way, in addition to being amazing with all the usual shmears, these flatter, sexier bagels also make a world-class sandwich. I hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 8 Bagels (*depending on size)
(Please note: if you use different flours, or yeasts, or boiling methods, or pans, or anything else…I’m not sure what will happen, so you’re on your own)
1 pound bread flour, divided in half
1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
sesame seeds as needed
- Boil in about 2 inches of water, seasoned with a rounded tablespoon of salt, and 2 tsp of honey for 2 minutes per side.
- Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake at 400 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes. 

*When the dough is ready to shape, weigh the total batch and divide by 7 or 8, depending on how big you want your bagels. Then weigh each portion out, and you’ll have consistently-sized bagels that will bake evenly.

View the complete recipe

56 comments:

philogaia said...

Man that looks good. I quit eating bagels partly because they were just so huge and fluffy. Now I know that if I alter anything I'm on my own but with a new and very randy wild sourdough starter I've been nursing lately I'm very tempted to experiment with a small batch. I'm accustomed to walking myself off a cliff with kitchen experiments...kind of like the Fool card in the Tarot.

Stephliu04 said...

I wonder what you'd think of "scooped out" bagels then, chef john. If you haven't heard of them (which I'm almost certain you have) they're essentially bagels with the insides literally scooped out of them. I've tried it, and they're much crispier, albeit also much more wasteful...

Chef John said...

I always did that, but not with these!

Dani said...

Can i freeze these? It's just me and the boyfriend back home and i was wondering if i could do a big batch and freeze them after, i don't know, the boiling part maybe, and then bake them every morning. Can i do that? :/

Anonymous said...

THOSE LOOK AWESOME!

Putting those in the queue.

Thanks, Chef John!

Rob Pitingolo said...

I see that these are thinner than typical bagels, but you never tell us why? Less yeast? Less time rising? More time boiling? What's the secret?!

Chef John said...

I mentioned briefly in video, but think it's the combo of letting the bagels fully proof before boiling and the shallow water. But, maybe not! Who knows? :)

Chef John said...

Never tried freezing, but should work in theory!

RoboticsNerd said...

Chef John,
I am trying this out, because I think the idea is spot on with my bagel philosophy.

However, when I went to knead it in the stand mixer, after 10 minutes, it cant pull away. I left it going, since its bread flour I would think it would be hard to over knead. After checking it every few minutes, it would just get stickier. After 20 minutes, I decided to put it in the fridge, thinking it will get stiffer in there, and that it might just be too warm and humid in Central Illinois. Any suggestions on this step?

-Eric

Me.Eat.Food said...

That looks frickin' amazing! My mouth is watering thinking about one of those warm bagels slathered in butter! Gahhh....

Hudoo said...

Chef John,

AS ALWAYS, YOU ARE AMAZINGLY THE BEST <3
this sounds really amazing & will defiantly give it a try.

but I have a question - which is not related to the recipe .. but i was tired of searching online to get the wire skimmer you used to take off your bagles from the water .. do u have any idea where can i find it online?

Thanks & keep up the great recipes.

Chef John said...

RoboticsNerd, if it doesn't pull away from the side that just means you need more flour! Just add little at a time until it feels right.

Chef John said...

Hudoo,


http://www.amazon.com/Typhoon-Professional-Cooks-Wire-Skimmer/dp/B0009XHERK/ref=sr_1_2?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1344292416&sr=1-2&keywords=wire+skimmer

Chris K. said...

Bagel protip: if you boil them in alkaline water, your bagels will develop a really nice, dark crust with great flavor. Use 1 tablespoon baking soda per gallon of water (adjust down if you're using less).

Chris K. said...

Oh yeah, I forgot: PIZZA BAGELS.

Chef John said...

Yeah, I was waiting for the first "where's the lye?" comment, but after checking with the judges we will accept baking soda.

Chris K. said...

No normal person needs to keep food grade lye in their kitchen.

Nachos Rule Forever said...

as a new yorker I must note this is by far your most controversial post ever.

Anonymous said...

Ok so if you think a bagel is "large and fluffy" or "cold" then I don't think you've actually ever had a real bagel.

Bagels are dense and warm - right out of the oven. Real bagels are made by first putting them in a water bath and then baking them in an oven.

They are best warm, right out of the oven - particularly on a Sunday morning, along with freshly sliced Nova lox, real cream cheese, onion, perhaps a little tomato....NEVER toasted.

Chef John said...

Who said anything about fluffy?

BTW, am I missing something here, or can't I have them warm, right out of the oven (always awesome) AND toasted later (also always awesome)?

NEVER toasted? Are you insane?

Phong Hong said...

I had no idea that bagels are boiled first before the are baked. Am I the only one?

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,

Would it be ok to make the bagels up to the baking point and then say, refrigerate them overnight and bake them the next morning? Would anything need to change, either the temp or time?

Dawn (Dawn's Recipes) said...

I think you've landed on the next big thing since muffin tops! (Though I admittedly do enjoy muffin bottoms.) Just the best part of the bagel! Because really they're just a conduit for delivering cream cheese and other toppings to my mouth.

Ann said...

Can't watch video. It just keeps on loading, never loads. Tried yesterday & today. Same thing. I've been wanting to know how to make bagels so please hlp me. thanks

Ann said...

can't see the video. this is the 4 th or 5 th time I've gone thru this. no video no posting, what's with you guys scheese

Chef John said...

i just checked, and vid is playing fine. You need to update your browser i believe.

Chef John said...

anon, just bake and toast next day. Why make halfway?

Kitchen worktops guy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pauline said...

Love your video and SF bagel invention! I too can only enjoy a bagel if it's toasted and dislike the thick breads inside. It is all bout that chewy crust. Do you have any instructions on how to make these bagels with instant yeast instead of active?

Sandra from Montreal said...

Brilliant! These even look like Montreal bagels! (I may be biased but IMNSHO, Montreal bagels are the best!). Can't wait for the weather to cool off to try these :).

:) said...

That looks good and all, but make no mistake, NOTHING is "superior" to a NY-style bagel. Nothing.

zac said...

Theory: these are flatter because of the wetter dough. Maybe bagels are usually made with a more dense dough that isn't sticky at all. Could be wrong, but I can't understand how the shallow water level would affect anything if they're just going to float (it does use less water and boils faster, which is a great advantage).

Thanks for the awesome cooking video!

Molly Kumar said...

Hello Chef John,
I'm your ardent fan n try make some of your recipes :D
I'm a self proclaimed "Bread Monster Eater" and this recipe looks so simple n yum. Thanks for sharing it with us and will try soon.

By the way, I did try the "No knead beer bread" n turned out AMAZING! (will post links soon).

I'm also from bay area and write my own blog (Fusion Cooking with Indian Spices - http://easycookinwithmolly.blogspot.com/)

Thanks n Keep Inspiring US,
Molly

Anonymous said...

Never toasted? Says who? The bagel police may arrest me, but I LOVE them that way, cut in half, toasted with a little butter, like an English muffin. I love Chef John's idea of using them as sandwich bread.

I have plenty of all-purpose, but no bread flour. And I knead by hand, since I have no mixer. I'll let you know how they come out tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

u spelledt whole rong

Anonymous said...

Sandra has it right, these are basically Montreal style bagels but without the smokey goodness of the wood fired oven. They do look good though.

Anonymous said...

Chef John, if I "hand" knead this, can I use a spatula to do so and how long would it take to form a ball?
Great great recipe, thanks!

Chef John said...

no spatula, just use a floured hand. you'd knead until very elastic. maybe 10-15 min

Anonymous said...

FYI - As I promised yesterday morning, I tried this recipe with all-purpose flour and hand-kneading rather than using a machine with bread flour. The dough seemed dryer and denser than in the video. I was afraid I was making hockey pucks. So I let the formed bagels rise for 90 minutes rather than 30 and they puffed up nicely, but collapsed when they hit the boiling water (with baking soda added as Chris K. suggested). They came out pretty thin and very brown, with a dense chewy crust and soft insides, pretty much as Chef John said. THANKS Chef!

Anonymous said...

Montreal bagels are like hockey pucks. These SF-style don't seem like they'd require a jaw replacement after eating.

Steve said...

Chef:

When you egg wash, do you egg wash both sides or just the tops?

Also, a small "Food Wish" wish on my part: Can you please post more detailed instructions on the blog, especially for something like the SF bagel, which requires multiple steps?

As much as I enjoy your videos, when I go into the kitchen, I'd rather have a sheet of paper than my laptop. Who wants egg wash all over the keyboard, after all?

Anonymous said...

Steve: When I see a recipe/video I think I'll like here, I open a Word file, copy and paste the printed info off the blog, then type in instructions and more details from watching the video. I edit it a bit to make it more readable, print it out, and enjoy cooking (and eating) later.

Steve said...

@Anonymous:

Yes, I do the same thing (except I use emacs, not Word).

I certainly don't want to tell Chef how to run his blog, since this is clearly a labor of love as well as a commercial venture, both of which are commendable enterprises, but it would seem to me to be a way of avoiding the duplication of effort by the many readers of the site.

But, hey, again, it's his blog and I'm not going to kick too hard. I've been almost 100 percent happy with everything I've tried and the occasional misfire is probably more due to my incompetence in the kitchen than anything on his end, so I'm happy either way.

Ms. Sheehan said...

WORD OF CAUTION TO THE WISE: Do NOT drain your bagels on a paper towel! Maybe this is common sense, but I apparently lack a lot of that. I didn't have a wire rack, and put the boiled bagels on a paper towel to dry. The paper towel stuck to the bagel and turned everything into a pretty much irreversible sticky mess. I had to throw out four of my eight bagels. *cries*

Anonymous said...

As others have noted, these are basically Montreal bagels.

jevans said...

I've been reading your blog and watching your videos for a while now, Chef John. I have tried and loved several of your recipes but never gotten around to leaving a comment...until now! These SF bagels were amazing! I was looking for quick breakfast ideas that I could make ahead and these hit the spot! They were easy to make and freeze well. My hubby loves them so much, he had one for breakfast today and then another as sandwich bread for lunch! Thanks for the great recipe and video!!

Chris Race said...

Thank you for the recipe Chef John! I have made this twice in the past four days. Once as prescribed and once with my sourdough starter. The sourdough version worked pretty well but just required much more time to rise. This such an approachable bagel recipe, I recommend anyone that's even curious about making bagels try it! You do such a great job of making food less intimidating Chef John.

Dianne Grover said...

Since I was a child, I have been a fan of bagels since my Grandma gives these to me whenever I sit still and shut my mouth when it’s time for her TV show. As I grew up, I did realize the texture issues involving my favorite bites. Although I have a favorite restaurant Fort Lauderdale that I go to when I crave for bagels but I am glad I found this bagel recipe on your blog. Surely, I will try to make some as soon as I get a hold of my kitchen. Thanks a lot!

mdb139 said...

Thanks again for yet another great recipe Chef John! I made these last weekend for my family and in-laws.

While I think I followed your recipe fairly closely, my yeast may have been a bit on the old side and didn't rise quite as quickly as yours, so I let my sponge go for almost an hour and let the dough rise for a full two hours.

Since I wanted these to be ready in the morning, I formed into bagel shapes and stored in the fridge overnight (before the proofing step). I "proofed" them in the morning by turning my oven on to its lowest setting for a few minutes, turning off the heat, and placing the uncooked/unboiled bagels in warm oven with a couple cups of boiling water for about 20 minutes. I had a little bit of sticking but I was able to reshape the bagels and proceed with the recipe.

Everyone thought I was crazy for making bagels from scratch, but they really did turn out great.

Thanks again Chef John!

Diana said...

Is there a place where all the instructions are written out? I wasn't able to find it on your blog. I'm particularly interested in the quantity of flour in the sponge, since I couldn't see the weight on your scale in the video. Thanks!

Chef John said...

Sorry, I forgot to write that down, it's about half the flour, 8 oz. for sponge!

Diana said...

Thank you! I'm definitely looking forward to making bagels with a lot less bread in the middle.

Chris d'Argy said...

Ha ha ha ha "Can you call these low carb bagels..... No that's stupid!" I love your style Chef J

Aestille Simons said...

I ended up using all-purpose flour for this recipe, 'cause that's what I had. I also had no kitchen scale, so I also used about 3 and a half cups of flour/went by feel and I have to say, well, these were... decent. Mine came out chewy and difficult to bite apart with your teeth and were actually better the day after baking, when they weren't so knife-proof. All-in-all a good recipe, but I'll probably be trying it again with the more scientifically correct ingredients at a later date.

gypsiepalette said...

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gypsiepalette said...

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