In “Why New York Has the Best Bagels“, the folks at Reactions explain that it’s not just the water, but a specific combination of minerals in the water, a fermenting process called “proofing”, and then boiling the bagels before baking that make New York City bagels the best in the world.
We went to the bustling Murray’s Bagels in Greenwich Village and got to go behind the scenes. Now while New York’s bagel supremacy is well established, many people seem to disagree on why. For a long time many insisted it was the one ingredient that comes from the tap. The “wahta” as they say does play a minor role in how New York bagels turn out. …good bagel bakeries according to the chef let those trays of bagels sit in a cooler for a couple of days, a process called proofing. This allows the yeast time to slowly ferment. …At Murray’s the bagels come out of the cooler and make one more crucial stop before the oven – the kettle. Boiling the bagels from anywhere from thirty seconds to three minutes pre-gelatinizes the starch. This locks the liquid into the startch, setting up the perfect bagel-y texture.