Montreal bagels are smaller, denser, sweeter and have a larger hole than New York bagels. Each bagel is hand-rolled then boiled in honey water, after which they’re coated in sesame or poppy seeds and baked in a wood-fired oven. The most iconic bagel bakeries in Montreal, St-Viateur & Fairmount Bagels, are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In 2016, the co-creators of FEAST: An Edible Road Trip, Lindsay and Dana, reached out to us about contributing a Montreal-style bagel recipe to their cookbook. FEAST was going to feature iconic foods from across Canada, from coast-to-coast-to-coast. Given our deep and abiding love for the Montreal bagel, we were extremely honoured and tackled the challenge head-on. The final recipe we created is a fantastic replica of the traditional bagel, without the need for a wood-burning oven (because how many of us have one of those at home?) The recipe also includes a nod to the Great White North with the use of maple syrup in addition to honey.
If you can’t travel to Montreal to taste a freshly baked bagel, this recipe comes in a very close second!
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 8 gram package active dry yeast
- 5 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 – 4.5 cups flour, with extra for your work surface
- 3 quarts (12 cups) water for boiling
- ⅓ cup honey
- Sesame seeds and poppy seeds, about 1 ½ cups each
In a large bowl, mix together the water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is activated (the mixture should become frothy).
Add the vegetable oil, maple syrup, egg and salt to the bowl and mix until everything is incorporated. One cup at a time, mix in approximately 4 – 4 ½ cups of flour. You should end up with a sticky dough that holds together.
Turn out the dough onto a floured counter and sprinkle some flour on top of the dough. Start kneading. You’ll need to keep sprinkling the dough with flour so it doesn’t stick to the counter. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes.
Just as the dough is almost finished rising, bring water and honey to a boil.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and divide it into 12 equal portions (you can use a kitchen scale if you want it to be extra accurate). Roll each portion into an 8-10 inch rope, curving the rope around your hand to bring the ends together and roll it back and forth along the seam a few times to seal.
Boil bagels for a minute and a half, flipping the bagels halfway through. Only boil three or four bagels at a time so as not to crowd the pot. Remove the bagels from the pot and place them on a plate to cool until they can be easily handled.
Place sesame seeds and poppy seeds on separate plates. Cover both sides of the cooled bagels in sesame or poppy seeds and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake the bagels for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Bake on the top rack of the oven for the first 10 minutes and then the bottom rack for the last 10 minutes. The bagels should be golden brown with a few dark brown spots.
Enjoy warm or let cool completely and slice before freezing. Rewarm frozen bagels in the oven before serving.