The first printed mention of bagels...is to be found in the Community Regulations of Kracow, Poland, for the year 1610 which stated that bagels would be given as a gift to any woman in childbirth - The Joys of Yiddish by Leo RostenWe were invited to an absolutely delightful brunch last Sunday. The group was made up, in large part, people who really care about food. Some fellow members of the Slow Food Board and Professional Cooks among them. The offerings included home cured meats, fresh bi-valves, yeast waffles and other tasty goods. A carefully concocted variety of “Marys” and some ales to wash things down.
By request, I brought bagels. Despite being usually reserved for our Sunday brunch, small amounts have been doled out over time – enough to gain a bit of a reputation for being yummy.
How did this batch fare? People were taking them home. There were two of the best cooks in town there. James offered to trade some of his next batch of smoked salmon for some – Michael, we can talk . . .
We make them regularly, and have for years. It used to be more of family affair. these days I tend to make them alone. For years, like my quest for rye bread, I searched cookbooks - especially baking books – to no avail. Like rye bread my answers came from an unexpected source (in the case of rye bread, food writer Elissa Altman pointed me to Deborah Madison’s recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone).
Inasmuch as a recipe is anyone’s, this is Russ Parsons’ – the Food Editor at the LA Times and one of my favorite food writers. I feel to share his recipe because:
A: I am crediting him and linking to the original.
B: I have modified the recipe enough to adapt it, and
C: It’s his birthday.
The changes I have made are to increase the amount of baking soda in the water bath – it improves the crust I think. I add an egg wash both for appearance and because it makes the toppings stick better. I also add an extra day to the process. The first time was an accident, but I think they come out even better with the two day ferment.
And so without further ado, I give you