re: Bagels must be small, dense, chewy, dark, and blistery
- George Greenstein
A message from "The Jewish Baker"
Blistery? When unbaked bagels are left over in the
bakery they are stored under refrigeration. Often,
bagel bakeries prepare extra bagels to be baked first
thing in the morning so that they can begin to work
later. If the temperature and humidity in the fridge
is not quite right the dough begins to blister. The
longer the dough is refrigerated the worse the
blister. Blistering is a sign of old dough. It's a
sign of a lazy baker or a crummy bagel. The problem is
that there are not too many people around anymore who
know how a really good bagel tastes. Maybe you should
try to make your own.
"Blistering is a sign of old dough"
No, no, you misunderstood me!
By "blisters", I refer to those tiny crispy raised
bumps you get on the skin (usually on the bottom side)
of really well-made bagels; they effortlessly burst
with a delicate crunch as you chew.
Lender's bagels don't have 'em. Neither do H&H. All the
good hand-rolls (and, rarer, machine-punched) ones
do...hot out of the oven, too.
It's at least partially a function of long-enough
baking...undercooked bagels don't have them. But
mediocre ones never get them even if you cook 'em dark
brown. I suspect it's a matter of proper boiling (with
NY water...out-of-town bagels don't get these blisters)
plus long-enough baking.
re: John Knoesel
I live just up the road from Shelia's and am a regular there- nothing like a hot-from-the-oven salt bagel just after a treadmill session at the nearby gym.... Heaven! John, I bet if you and I ever met we'd do a doubletake- we both frequent the same places in the nabe. We've probably run into each other on various lines a dozen times.
BTW, if you haven't already, you have to sprint to Cafe Italiano for the fresh lunch panini sandwiches. It's become a once a week thing for us. The made to order panini bread is out of this world. Best is the basil chicken stuffing. Yum Yum. The dollar coffee ice at D'Aquila on Franny Lew makes the perfect summertime dessert. The best ices in NY hands down.
re: Jim Leff
Jim's right (at least as far as the
qualitative thing goes). Those ``blisters''
he's referring to are fermentation bubbles,
formed by wisps of gas that escape as the
live yeasts expire, and are generally a sign
that the baked good in question has been
properly proofed. Tiny fermentation bubbles
are a good thing.
The fermentation bubbles, however, have
little or nothing to do with the boiling of
the dough. A bagel is boiled to tighten its
surface gluten, which acts as sort of a bagel
girdle and keeps it from assuming the bloated,
puffy proportions of, say, an H&H bagel.
Does anyone else remember when bagels were so dense
that if you didn't chew carefully they'd give you the
hiccups (no, I'm not making this up)? This was back
before they inflated them with bicycle pumps and the
holes disappeared into the bloat.