Well, in order to compare a formula to a New York bagel, you have to have eaten enough of them to know what the ‘real deal’ actually is. If the comparison is to a major chain like H&H then you are not really achieving greatness.
I grew up in a neighborhood next to Coney Island in Brooklyn. The area was a mix of Irish, first and second generation Sicilian, second and third generation Jewish immigrants. If there were two things we knew well, it was pizza and bagels!
The best bagels came from a bagel bakery at the end of Cropsey Avenue called, unsurprisingly, Cropsey Bagels. Unfortunately, they are no longer in business, which is a huge loss to bagel fans everywhere.
They made the perfect bagel. First, these bagels had height! They sat at least five inches from the table. They had a beautiful, shiny, golden glow. The crumb was light, soft and tender, and the taste! They had a complex flavor profile that reminded me of a mild yet malty sourdough.
The only other bagel I have had that came close to this bagely perfection came from Bagel Train, in Suffern, New York— Thankfully, they are open and doing quite well.
There are many places to buy bagels around my home. None of them come close the magic of Cropsey Bagels. I knew, if I wanted it, I had to try to recreate them at home. I tried a number of recipes, but, so far, the one I like the best comes from The Culinary Institute of America’s Artisan Breads At Home book by Eric Kastel.
However, I made a few small modifications. First, I make the malt-boil, I add more malt syrup than the recipe calls for (by 2 Tablespoons). Next, I put the bagels into an ice bath when they come out of the boiling water, then I will roll them in my toppings (my "everything" topping comes from King Arthur Flour) I ALWAYS proof overnight. The longer they rest, the more the flavor profile will develop. So if I want them on Sunday morning, I start Saturday morning and let them proof for like 15 hours in the fridge. I’ll take them out about one hour before baking, and
I bake them directly on top of a hot steel in a 500-degree oven.
Rolling them is a bit tricky, but after a few tries, you get the hang of it.