Foodies worldwide flock to New York for a number of tasty treats. But whether you are simply stopping by on vacation or you’re a permanent resident of the Big Apple, one thing is for sure: You have got to try a bagel.
Now this isn’t your ordinary shoe-leather tough Thomas’ bagel smothered in store-bought cream cheese. No, a New York bagel’s crunchy crust and soft, chewy interior is the perfect platform for smoked salmon, fluffy scrambled eggs or good ole’ salted butter.
But what’s the secret behind the city’s signature food?
What it boils down to is…water. The key ingredient that separates New York bagels (and pizza dough) from anywhere else in the world is the tap water. With low concentrations of minerals like calcium and magnesium, New York water is some of the softest in the United States.
That factor comes into play in the chemical reactions that produce the delectable chewy goodness of a New York bagel. The soft water softens the effect of gluten in the dough, making it goopier than your average bagel mix. Once it’s done cooking, the interior has an incomparable chewiness that you just have to try for yourself.
Speaking of the cooking process, New York bagels are also boiled, but only after the dough is allowed to rest for several days. During that time, the yeast slowly ferments, building both flavor and condensation inside the dough. Finally, the bagels take a boiling bath for 30 seconds to three minutes.
Only then are they placed inside an oven to finish off the cooking process and achieve the crunchy exterior that breakfast lovers crave.
Mass production has led many bagel manufacturers and bakers to eschew this time-consuming method, and many skip boiling altogether, but the flavor and mouth feel suffers.
So if you’re searching for the ultimate bagel, New York is still king.