Bagels. You know them – or at least you think you do. But until you’ve had a fresh New York-style bagel – a circular bread with a hole in the center that’s been briefly boiled and then baked – you haven’t experienced them at their best. Boiling is key: It gives the bagels a thick, dark golden-brown crust while still allowing them to rise. When you slice into a boiled bagel, the interior should be soft and squishy, with a wonderful elasticity that should hold up against a thick glob of cream cheese.
Official records date the birth of bagels to 1610 in Poland, and we have New York’s Jewish community to thank for folding them into the fabric of our country, starting in the mid-19th century when Eastern European immigrants began arriving in the U.S. New York-style bagels gained popularity here in the 1970s, and through the decades, they’ve evolved from niche breakfast bread to essential breakfast carb.
Today, we’re seeing a resurgence in demand for traditional boiled bagels, and these Missouri bakers are making it easy – and enjoyable – to really sink your teeth into the trend.
Pete Linde grew up in northern New Jersey and relocated to Kansas City in 1997. “When you grow up there, you don’t even notice that [boiled] bagels are unique to the area,” he says. “You just assume everywhere else has them too.” For years, Linde lamented the absence of a decent bagel in the Kansas City metro area, and when he and his wife, Janna, went to New York City on vacation, he introduced her to the breakfast staple of his childhood. “[Then] she understood what I was talking about in terms of what a real bagel is,” says Linde, and so, after diligent planning, the couple opened the first location of Meshuggah Bagels on 39th Street in 2016. Pleasantly dense and malty, the bagels are made with unbleached, unbromated (not containing potassium bromate), high-gluten, pure-milled flour, which helps define the end product – including the thin crust that captures toppings such as sesame seeds, poppy seeds and toasted garlic.
Meshuggah Bagels, multiple locations, meshuggahbagels.com
Operating out of Pizza Tree in Columbia, Missouri, Goldie’s Bagels serves fresh bagels made with Seymour (the Pizza Tree sourdough starter), boiled with malt syrup and baked in a pizza oven. “The [sourdough starter] adds flavor,” says co-owner Amanda Rainey, “but we don’t use enough where it tastes like a sourdough bagel. It just gives it a little extra flavor and allows us to use less yeast. We also use a little malt powder in our dough, and I feel like a lot of other places use a lot more sugar. The [starter] lets us cut all that back.” The signature Goldie’s bagel is perfectly balanced between dense and light, with a delicate chew, a touch of turmeric and black sesame seeds on both sides. Other flavors include plain, blueberry and everything, and they all shine when paired with whipped cream cheese.
Goldie's Bagels, 909 Cherry St. (inside Pizza Tree), Columbia, Missouri, ordergoldies.com
Stroud City Bagels
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Adam Stroud spent weekends experimenting with a bagel recipe that he’d gotten from a co-worker. “It didn’t get interesting until I started an Instagram account and asked friends [about] their dream flavors for bagels,” he says. He took their suggestions and tried to convert them into real bagels, sending test batches out for feedback. In September 2020, Stroud debuted his creations at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market in St. Louis. The bagels from Stroud City Bagels blend elements of the New York-style method – flash-boiling and baking – with the Montreal-style method, where bagels are boiled in honey water, giving them a slightly sweeter flavor profile. Stroud also deviates from the typical high-gluten flour that New York-style bagels call for, so his bagels are softer on the inside. Perhaps most notable, however, are the flavors of Stroud’s bagels: The loaded baked potato bagel, which features russet potato and chives in the dough and Cheddar on top, is an inspired addition to the bagel world.
Stroud City Bagels, instagram.com/stroudcitybagels
The bagels from S2S Bagels in Stilwell, Kansas, have seeds on two sides (hence the “S2S” in the name). Known as the local “bagel guy,” Paul Kivett has been making the yeasty rounds this way for more than two decades, and he’s used the New York-style boiling method just as long. “[Some chains] use big ovens and inject steam at the beginning of the baking [process], but it just isn’t as good,” he says. “Boiling keeps moisture in during baking and keeps the bagel from rising like a piece of bread. It also adds a subtle flavor since sugar, honey or malt can be added to the water.” Kivett’s handcrafted bagels feature a variety of cheese toppings in addition to seeds, plus ingredients such as Maine wild blueberries and Hawaiian macadamia nuts. He also makes one delectable special each weekend – think cinnamon-raisin, cranberry-orange and pumpkin. S2S Bagels doesn’t have a retail location, and Kivett only bakes on the weekends, but he delivers to Overland Park, Leawood and Lawrence – just place your order online a few days ahead of time.
S2S Bagels, s2sbagels.com
Boogyz Donuts in St. Louis was born out of love for – no, not donuts – bagels. Initially, Jamil Jabbar aspired to open a bagel shop, even traveling to New Jersey to learn the bagel trade. When he returned to his hometown, he started selling bagels at his brother’s minimart, but they never really took off. He turned to donuts instead and opened Boogyz in January 2020. In the last year, he’s added bagels to the menu, though, and “sales have slowly been picking up as word gets out,” he says. Jabbar uses the sponge-and-dough method for his bagels: Flour, water and yeast are combined and left to rest for a few hours before more flour and yeast, plus salt and honey, are added and the dough is left to ferment overnight. This imbues Boogyz bagels with a unique flavor, very smooth texture and fine crumb – all the better to hold up against a thick schmear of cream cheese.
Boogyz Donuts, 6951 Olive Blvd., University City, Missouri, 314.354.8553, eatboogyzdonuts.com