Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (2024)

What exactly gives bagels their "bagel-ness"? What is the ideal bagel size? What about its height? Should it have a crunchy crust, or one that’s easy to bite into? And the size of the hole? Should it be nonexistent or wide enough to lose your cream cheese?

These are just some of the questions the Recipe Team at King Arthur has been mulling over the last few months. While all of you were baking up batches ofPerfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls(our 2021 Recipe of the Year), we were busy crafting a brand new bagel recipe.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (1)

Kristin Teig

Admittedly, it didn’t come easily. We spent a good chunk of 2021 testing bagels, tweaking formulas, comparing water baths, and analyzing crumb structure, all in order to come up with a phenomenal bagel. Complicating matters is that we weren’t just creating the ultimate bagel — we were creating Ultimate Sandwich Bagels.

While all of you were baking up batches of Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls, we were busy crafting the Ultimate Sandwich Bagels.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (2)

Kristin Teig

Yes, I said “sandwich bagels,” not bagel sandwiches. The glory of this bagel recipe is that it’s designed specifically to work beautifully in a sandwich. Thus it isn't like most other bagels; it's not exactly New York-style, nor will you confuse it for one that came from Montreal. Instead, this recipe has a unique combination of ingredients, techniques, and tips that result in a truly distinct bagel — and one that’s perfect with egg and cheese.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (3)

Kristin Teig

What makes this recipe worthy of being crowned our Recipe of the Year? Here are 7 elements that make it theideal bagel for building your ultimate sandwich and an overall winning recipe.

1) Bread flourcreates the perfect amount of chewiness

Bread flourhas a slightly higher protein content thanall-purpose flour,which lends the dough more strength. Some bakers reach for high-gluten flour when making bagels to achieve a supremely chewy texture — but not in this recipe.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (4)

Kristin Teig

Why? We intentionally designed these bagels not to be challengingly chewy. When you bite into a loaded breakfast sandwich made on one of these bagels, you’ll crunch through the crispy crust and then sink into the slightly chewy inside. The fillings will stay safely inside the sandwich rather than squishing out the sides, which can be a bummer.

2) Thepâtefermentéeaddsflavor

To enhance the bagels' flavor, this recipe uses a starter ... and not just any old starter. It’s pâte fermentée, a relatively stiff starter. During mixing, you may ask yourself, am I doing this right? Don’t fret — it's supposed to be stiff; you might need to knead the shaggy mixture on the surface to bring it all together.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (5)

Kristin Teig

The acids that form in a stiff, low-liquid starter taste yeasty, nutty, and well-rounded as opposed to the overly sour or tangy flavor notes you'd get from a more liquid starter. They give the bagel dough that definitive “yum” factor.

3)Barley malt syrup in the dough AND water bath

After countless attempts to find what gives bagels their “bagel-ness,” we determined that barley malt is definitely an important element. This natural sweetener is made from malted barley grainsthat have been sprouted. While it might sound unfamiliar, your taste buds would certainly recognize it as that slightly sweet flavor that's characteristic of bagels.

Early iterations of the dough were made without any sweetener and boiled in a water bath with honey. They just didn’t cut it — the bagels were missing something.

As soon as Molly Marzalek-Kelly, our senior recipe tester, put barley malt syrup in the dough, our taste testers started saying things like, “Aha! This is what a bagel should taste like.” Mystery solved.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (6)

Kristin Teig

And since the barley malt syrup was close at hand, we figured it might as well go in the water bath too. The resulting bagels have a nice shine, deep color, and a distinct bagel-y flavor.

Don’tworry:If youcan’tfind ordon’thave barleymalt syrup, you canswapindark brownsugarand still get good results.(See therecipe pagefor exact measurements.)

4) The perfect size

Too often, we'veheard people say, “I love bagels but avoid them for breakfast. I always need a nap after eating one.” Or “Bagels? They sit in my stomach like a rock.”Muchof this carb-induced coma is due to the massive size of mostbakerybagels, so we decided to make our bagels slightly smaller.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (7)

Kristin Teig

When you shrink down a bagel to a modest 31/2" diameter, you’re left with something that welcomestoppings(think all your favorite breakfastingredients)without feeling skimpy.It’s the Goldilocksof bagels, and just right for building sandwiches.

5)Egg washtoensuretoppings stick

Surprised to see an egg wash in a bagelrecipe?Us too. Whilefewotherbagelrecipes callforapplyingthis simple egg-and-water mixture before baking,it’sastepthat’snow hardfor usto skip.

The egg wash’s purpose is two-fold: first, it acts as an edible glue and makesadditions likeEverything Bagel Toppingand sesame seeds stick.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (8)

Kristin Teig

Second, the egg wash gives the bagels additional color and shine. The deep brown, almostmahoganycolor of the crust is the definition of whatchefscall“GBD”:golden brown and delicious.

6)The eggpacket. Boom.

When it came time to nail down our sandwich filling,Mollyhad another genius idea. Instead offrying up an eggand putting a slice of cheese on top, the recipe includes a special element known affectionately as the egg packet.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (9)

Kristin Teig

Start by mixing milk with a bit of bread flour. (Yes! Flour in your eggs! The flour helps bind the ingredients and prevents the eggs from separating or becoming soggy.) The eggs are mixed in, seasoned to taste, and poured into a9” x 13” baking pan.After aquick bake,a generous layer of cheese is sprinkled down the center and becomes melty,andthen thin layer of baked eggsisslicedinto quarters lengthwiseand all folded up.

The result is a neat little square of seasoned eggs encasing melted cheese (or whatever you’d like to tuck inside). It’s hard to imagine a better vehicle for classic breakfast ingredients.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (10)

Kristin Teig

7)All the fillings we have in store

While the egg packet alone is exciting, we know some of you are eager to add bacon or tomatoes to the packet, or maybe even some spicy greens or garlicky sauce drizzled over the top.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (11)

Kristin Teig

We’ve come up with a bundle of filling recipes to help guide you through building your ultimate bagel sandwich — some from our very own Recipe Team and some from outside bakers who know their way around bagels. The filling recipes range from super savory and salty to surprising (Spam! Charred broccoli rabe!) to downright lovable (that’d be the Vermonster). There’s something for everyone — and plenty of freedom to dream up your own ideal bagel experience.

Look for the filling recipes on ourInstagramandFacebook pagesover the first few weeks of 2022.We’llalsoshare them soon right hereon the blog toinspire yourultimate sandwichcreations.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (12)

Kristin Teig

Sohere’sto 2022 and our newest Recipe of the Year:Ultimate Sandwich Bagels.Let the baking begin!

Baking gluten-free? Check out our recipe forGluten-Free Bagels, complete with a tip to make a gluten-free version of the egg packet filling, too.

Cover photoby Kristin Teig.

Introducing our 2022 Recipe of the Year: Ultimate Sandwich Bagels (2024)
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