Bagels @ Big Apple Bagels

This weeks post is very close to my breakfast-loving heart. This weeks post is all about

BAGELS!

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Before I begin, yes, I make and serve bagels for a living. Yes, its the best job I’ve ever had. And yes, you’re lucky enough to get to see the backstage of a bagel’s lifespan, as taken by me.

Big Apple Bagels on Lake Michigan Drive in Grand Rapids Michigan has anywhere from 24-27 or so different kinds of bagels every day. Each of these kinds of bagels are made in a unique process with special recipes, by hand, every week. No, BABS does not get shipments of frozen dough from a wholesaler- they make it every day by hand using tried and true passed down bagel magic. (skills in baking sorcery are required to work here).  The same is true of the cream cheese, muffins, and any other baked goods. It’s hard to be bored when there is so much breakfast magic to make!

    Here is a simplified collage of the birth of a bagel (in this case, Tomato Basil). First, the ingredients are measured and poured together into a massive mixer. Once the dough has been mixed and kneaded for some time, the slab of dough is tossed onto a table and cut into portions. These portions are stretched out and fed into what I call a Bagel Transformer, where it goes through a process of being portioned and cut down again into small blocks. The machine then takes these blocks through another part and dough logs are formed and spun out onto a platter. From here, the baker takes each bagel and touches them up to make sure they are perfectly shaped. The dough is placed onto boards and covered for specific amounts of time until they are ready to be rolled into the cooler. After rising in the cooler for 20 minutes, the dough is ready to be baked!

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    Dough goes through an interesting rising and falling process once its living in the cooler. The first day the dough may be standard or smaller in size, but the next day and the day after that, the dough expands and becomes bigger and fluffier. After that, the dough slowly begins to deflate. This is why bagels arent’t always giant and fluffy or small and perfectly tight and round- each one is different.
    Sometimes bagel dough is pulled apart and shaped into a cinnamon roll (our latest invention), a braid (for Cheddar Twists) or even stretched and tied into dog bones.
    But what happens to bagels if they don’t get bought?
    Fear not! BABS does its best to reduce waste. At the end of a long hard day of sitting on the shelf, bagels are tossed into day old bags to be sold at a lower price the next day. Lucky savory bagels are saved to be sliced and re-baked into bagel chips.

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     My personal favorite is a swiss melt toasted with butter. I eat this tried and true combination probably 3-5 times a week (don’t try to tell me I have a problem).
    Of course, bagels were meant for cream cheese. Salsa cream cheese on any of the savory flavors is another winning combination. On the sweeter side of things, brown sugar cinnamon cream cheese pairs perfectly with Apple Pie and Cinnamon Crunch bagels.
    Bagels are also filling substitutes to bread. Try making your favorite ham and cheese on a toasted Everything next time, you wont regret it.

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