Montreal bagels stacked on a cutting board

Soft, chewy and totally delicious, these Montreal bagels are made with a maple syrup-kissed dough and poached in honey water for a slight sweetness that pairs well with all the classic characteristics of a bagel you know and love. Top these with plenty o’ seeds, toast and slather in schmear and enjoy the best homemade bagel you’ve had yet.

Honestly, I cannot think of a more fitting way to enter 2021 than with a post about homemade bagels. Bagels are basically my love language — I love to eat them, I love to make them, and I love to watch the people I love eat the ones I’ve made for them. It’s all one big bagel love fest, and I’m ringing in this new year full of carbs and positivity. You with me?

Montreal bagels overhead on a cutting board

What are Montreal Bagels (aka Montreal-Style Bagels)?

Montreal bagels, sometimes called Montreal-Style Bagels, are most traditionally sweeter, thinner bagels with a bigger center hole that are baked in a wood-fired oven. They’re also poached in a honey-sweetened water bath before baking (which gives them their aforementioned hint of sweetness) and usually topped with sesame seeds or poppy seeds (though they can be topped with most traditional bagel toppings).

In the case of these bagels, we’re going for more inspiration than actual replication, since we’re making these at home and not in a professional bakery with a freakin’ wood-fired oven (though if you have one of those at your disposal, GOOD FOR YOU). These bagels still retain that classic hint of sweetness with a delightful chew that sets them apart from other types of bagel recipes you might be used to. Trust me when I say — these bagels are some of the best you’ll ever make from scratch. If you want to start 2021 off with a bang in the baking department, these bagels will not do you wrong.

Montreal bagels stacked on a cutting board

The Best Ingredients for Montreal Bagels

We’re always in the business of keeping ingredient lists simple around these parts, and these bagels are no exception. Here’s what you’ll need to bring these bagel bbs to life in your home:

  • Pure maple syrup (please, for the love of Pete, do not mess around with Hungry Jack here; let’s stick to the real deal)
  • Active dry yeast OR instant yeast — yes, you can use either one for this recipe!
  • Unbleached bread flour — I highly recommend King Arthur Baking bread flour. It’s my go-to bread flour and it always works superbly. No matter what, however, please use bread flour for this recipe — all-purpose flour will not offer the same level of protein/gluten to give the bagels their distinctive chew. Thankfully, you can find bread flour right next to all-purpose flour in most baking aisles!
  • Salt
  • Sesame seeds, poppy seeds and/or everything bagel seasoning, for topping (as you can see I could not decide, so I went with all three)
  • Honey, for the honey water poaching bath

Once you’ve got everything listed above (+ water), you are ready to roll to Bagel Town! (ooo, sorry.)

overhead shot of Montreal bagels on a cutting board

How to Make Homemade Montreal-Style Bagels

I think a lot of bakers are intimidated by the homemade bagel — myself included, back in the day. I mean, there’s a “poaching bath” and, like, how do you even shape a bagel? I am here to tell you today, my friends, that bagels are actually really, really simple to make; and the taste of a homemade bagel is second to none. So! Let’s talk about how to make these bagels, step by step:

Time needed: 2 hours and 35 minutes.

  1. Step One: Make the bagel dough.

    In a large bowl, stir together water, maple syrup, yeast, flour and salt until a stiff dough forms. Continue to knead dough until soft, smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl; cover and let rise until doubled.

  2. Step Two: Shape the bagels.

    Punch down risen dough to deflate, then divide into 8 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then poke the center of each hole with your fingers. Gently tug the dough to form a ring, like a bagel, with an approximate 2- to 3-inch hole in the center. (PS Here’s a video on How to Shape a Bagel, if you’re more of a visual learner!) Place bagels on an upside-down baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise while you prep the water bath.

  3. Step Three: Boil the bagels.

    In a large saucepan filled with water about 3 inches high, add honey. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Use a slotted spoon to transfer 2 to 3 bagels at a time to the bath. Cook bagels 1 minute on each side, then transfer to a shallow bowl filled with seed topping of your choice. Turn to coat the tops of the bagels, then return the bagels to the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bagels.

  4. Step Four: Bake the bagels.

    Heat your oven to 475°F. Transfer bagels on parchment-lined baking sheet to oven. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until bagels are a deep golden brown. Cool bagels completely on a cooling rack before slicing.

Montreal bagel on a plate cut in half with cream cheese on top

Tips for the Best Montreal-Style Bagels

As far as homemade breakfast foods go, these bagels top the list for easiest to make. That said, there are still a few tips we should cover, as always:

  • As mentioned above, please use bread flour. For many recipes, bread flour and all-purpose flour can be interchangeable — but in the case of a few recipes, bagels included, the extra protein content yields a chewy, dense bagel. You can find bread flour right next to the all-purpose flour in most baking aisles!
  • Need a warm place to let your dough rise? My favorite location is the microwave. I simply cover my dough bowl and place it in there for the entire rise time — it’s a warmer, draft-free location in your kitchen that will help the dough do its best rising. You can also use your oven with the light on (oven OFF, obviously).
  • Don’t sweat it if you shape imperfect-looking bagels. I don’t know the science behind this, but even the ugliest bagels tend to bake up pretty in the oven. Even if you shape them pretty as a picture, they tend to get a little shriveled after the water bath, but they’ll bake right back up into a beautiful bagel.
  • Homemade bagels tend to keep best for up to 1 day at room temperature, stored in a paper bag. After that, I highly recommend slicing each bagel, then freezing them in a freezer-safe resealable bag, and toasting them as needed.

Of course, if you have any more questions about this recipe, please leave a note in the comments or shoot me a note via email or social media! I will forever and always love to chat about bagels. Otherwise, if you’re already looking on the bright side of 2021, bring these Montreal bagels along with you. It’ll be the best decision you’ve made all year.

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Montreal bagels overhead on a cutting board

Montreal Bagels

  • Author: Stephanie
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
  • Yield: 8 bagels 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Canadian

Description

These Montreal-style-inspired bagels are chewy and soft, with a slight sweetness paired with a crunchy topping, such as sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Toast them up, slather on the cream cheese and enjoy these delicious homemade bagels!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast OR instant yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds, poppy seeds and/or everything bagel seasoning
  • 1/3 cup honey

Instructions

  1. First, make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment or in a large bowl using a wooden spoon, stir together water, maple syrup, yeast, flour and salt until a firm dough forms. Continue to knead dough in stand mixer on medium speed 6-8 minutes, OR knead by hand on a clean surface 8-10 minutes, until dough is soft, smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky. If necessary, you can knead in up to 1/4 cup more flour if dough seems too sticky.
  2. Shape dough into a ball; transfer to a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, place a large sheet of parchment paper on an upside-down baking sheet. Place sesame/poppy/everything bagel seeds into shallow bowls.
  4. Next, shape the bagels: Punch down risen dough to deflate. Divide dough into 8 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball; poke a hole in the center of each ball and gently tug to form a rough bagel shape with a 2-inch circle in the center (see Post above for a link to a video tutorial on how to shape bagels!). Place bagels on parchment; cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until slightly puffy, about 20 minutes. In the meantime, heat oven to 475°F. 
  5. Next, boil the bagels: In a large saucepan, bring honey and roughly 3 quarts of water (enough to fill the pan by about 3 inches) to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 2 to 3 bagels at a time to simmering water; cook on one side for about 1 minute, then flip and cook for another minute. Use slotted spoon to transfer each bagel to one of the bowls with seeds; dip and turn the bagels to coat in the seeds, then return, seed side-up, to parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bagels.
  7. Finally, bake the bagels: With bagels still placed on parchment-lined upside-down baking sheet, carefully transfer to oven. Bake bagels 15 to 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking, until bagels are a deep golden brown. Cool bagels completely on a cooling rack before slicing.
  8. Store fresh-baked bagels in a paper bag for up to 1 day; after that, slice each bagel in half and freeze for up to 2 months.

Notes

  • Recipe adapted from King Arthur Baking.
  • Swap the honey used in the boiling liquid for 1/4 cup barley malt syrup, if desired.

Keywords: honey boiled bagels, everything bagels, sesame seed bagels, poppy seed bagels, canadian bagels

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