A Stir The Pots Post

Montreal Bagels

by | Oct 6, 2011 | Montreal bagels

I first tried a St. Viateur bagel in Montreal. Some bakers claim Canada's bagels are more crispy and chewy than our New York variety, known for their sophisticated characteristics of being shiny and fat. Apparently such nuance in bagel texture has led one Brooklyn bagel shop to differentiate itself by claiming Montreal anscestry. And there's this Deli that actually imports St. Viateur bagels!


When I visited Montreal chef Michele Forgione's Osteria Venti, I do remembering enjoying a Canadian bagel and egg sandwich. It went down quite nicely with some espresso. Though I should of payed more attention to the bagel, my time was consumed chatting with the cooks, sharing tips on the finer points in making Pugliese bread.

Meanwhile, I did snap a photo, and remembered it had a different look from our New York bagels. Now, with H&H bagels closing and seemingly quick disappearance of Jewish bakeries in the Big Apple, it's hard to say where to find a traditional bagel. So I'm attempting a sourdough Montreal bagel, sans wood fired oven, with a nod to my friends up North.


There is slightly more color, sweetness and crisper texture in Montreal bagels. Perhaps it's the egg in the dough, honey or malt. And there's crispness from the wood fired ovens. I found a few sources on the web, from the New York Times, and The Fresh Loaf, adapting them for sourdough. Secrets and mystery aside, with the web and some calculations, anyone could make a bagel, even if you're not in Montreal. Good luck. 

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  1. Ryk Edelstein

    Well, it looks like your attempts yielded some pretty good results. You got the technique right, and the shape and proportions look spot on.
    Oddly enough, you will find that the process to bake Montreal style bagels is very similar to baking pretzels, and many pretzel recipes are identical to that of Montreal bagel dough.
    I find that using an alkali in the water is key to the nice shine on the exterior. Many claim honey in the water to be the secret, but I would swear by the baking soda as the trick.
    From the photos, it appears that the crumb may be a bit dense, but this could be due to the sour dough starter as opposed to cake yeast.
    Years ago, I initiated a dispute between Montreal and Hamilton Ontario over the use of the ‘Montreal Style’ denomination in the marketing of bagels Covered by both the Montreal Gazette and Hamilton Spectator, and sponsored by Air Canada). In the case of Hamilton, a local retailer took frozen NY style bagel dough, dusted them with cinnamon sugar, and branded them ‘Montreal style bagels’. The fact was, the baker, nor the retailer had ever had a Montreal style bagel.
    However, what you have produced would be perfect examples of a true ‘Montreal style bagel’. Kudos

  2. Emily

    They look fabulous… We would, of course, love your recipe! I have done a hybrid bagel that’s reminiscent of the Montreal style but looks different.

  3. Mike Avery

    H & H is no big loss. Maybe as a neighborhood institution, but not for their overly sweet bagels.
    I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on my New York style sourdough bagels. Recipe at http://www.sourdoughhome.com/sourdoughbagels.html
    It is based on a recipe from George Greenstein, a long time New York city old school baker. His “Secrets of a Jewish Baker” is a marvelous book!


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