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Aug 18, 2009 08:56 AM

What's the difference between a Montreal-style bagel and a NYC-style bagel?

Is there one? If so, what is it?

Not asking which one is better, but just if there is a difference between the two.


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  1. If I remember correctly - and it has been years since I've seen anyone make bagels - bagels in Montreal (at least around the Eastern Townships) have some sugar in the dough, then are boiled in water with either sugar or honey, before being baked.

    [edit] Ignore my post because (1) I just had it pointed out to me that the only place I've ever seen bagels being made is in Rosemont years ago when I lived with my Grandparents, so the bagels may have been some sort of Polish/Ukrainian recipe/variation, not necessarily a 'true' Montreal-style bagel, and (2) as I've never seen anyone make a bagel in NY, so they may all be boiled with sugar or honey. Basically I don't, as usual, know what I'm typing about.

    1. one is good while the other is not. (depending from where you are).

      seriously, the NY style bagel has more of a bread texture than the MTL one; and is a bit less sweet.

      1. Montreal bagels have no salt. They're baked in a wood burning oven, they have a larger hole, and the outside is crunchy.


        1. Montreal bagels are sweeter and much much smaller. The bagel part itself is very dense, with no salt, and sort of thinner - closer to a pretzel in proportion than what most people expect of a bagel. They are boiled first, then very very heavily coated on both sides with sesame seeds (other toppings are available but they are considered an aberration) and baked in a real honest-to-goodness wood burning oven. They're fantastic when fresh - you can eat them with nothing on them and they're delicious. But the texture quickly deteriorates as they cool. After a day, you only want them toasted.

          New York bagels are big, heavy and with a proportionally tiny hole compared to the bagel part itself. They tend to be quite dense, the dough is lightly salted and not at all sweet. A decent NY bagel can easily be sliced into three layers to maximize surface area for the application of cream cheese etc. They come with a multitude of topping options, with the most popular ones being either poppy seeds or "everything" (this is my observation). I'm pretty sure these are also boiled before baking but I doubt a wood oven is used very often.

          Does this help?

          4 Replies
          1. re: Nyleve

            That is helpful, although I've never known a NY bagel to be thick enough to be sliced into three layers, but then that's probably because I'm more of a fan of the dense, chewy bagels of Daniel's than the more doughy version at Ess-a-Bagel or H&H.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Yes - I'm thinking exactly of Ess-a-Bagel and H&H. My husband, whose bagel technique gives me the willies, slices all bagels - even Montreal ones occasionally - into three in order to provide an extra layer on which to slather things. I find it especially disturbing when he tops his bagel slices with prosciutto and brie. This just seems wrong, doesn't it?

              1. re: Nyleve

                Indeed, it is. I prefer my bagels naked -- so much better to taste the "chew" of the bagel.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Clearly, to some people the bagel is simply a vehicle for "stuff".

          2. The boiling water differs too: Montreal - honey is added; NY - malt barley. Sometimes malt barley syrup or powder is added to the dough too (NY that is).