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Chosen Eats: 2013 - The Year of the Bagel

by Mari Levine / December 27, 2012

fresh baked bagels

Chosen Eats

I’ve always loved January 1st. I’m allowed to sleep in late and spend the whole day in my pajamas, lazing about the house thinking about how productive I’m going to be over the course of the next year. It’s pretty great—until it’s over, and I realize I’ve fallen victim to the day’s inherent contradiction: I spent the entire first day of the new year in my ratty sweats instead of acting upon my resolution to spend less time in my ratty sweats. Fortunately, last December I found a solution that allows me to be lazy and productive: homemade bagels.

Many people would argue that it’s easy to find good bagels around Boston. In my case, Brookline’s Kupel’s is a short walk away, Newton Centre’s Rosenfeld’s requires just a short drive, and several other noteworthy spots are located in between and beyond. (One of my coworkers swears by Bagel World in Reading, to which she makes the hour-long trip at least three times a month to satisfy her cravings.) I’ve had my share of storebought bagels, but up until last year, I’d never attempted to make my own. I’ve never been a confident baker, so I figured I could never make as good a bagel as one I could buy in a bagel shop. Then I came across Peter Reinhart’s recipe.

In case you’re not familiar with him, Reinhart has major baking street cred. He’s the author of several cookbooks, one of which won a coveted James Beard Award. And his recipe for homemade bagels has gotten a lot of love on the Internet. Many food bloggers (myself included) credit this recipe for turning a would-be intimidating dish into an approachable weekend project. So if you’ve made a promise to yourself to try new things in 2013, this is a good place to start.

I know that bagels may not be the most traditional New Year’s Day food—that label’s reserved for anything you can have delivered to your door. And making your own may sound like too big an undertaking the day after an evening of celebrating. But this bagel recipe is a two-day process, and the vast majority of the work takes place on the first day. So if you start the dough on New Year’s Eve, you can save the actual boiling, baking, eating, and—most important—overall sense of accomplishment for the first of the year.

I promise you won’t be disappointed. As you can see from the photo, this recipe produces bagels that look like they came from the local bagel shop. So if your New Year’s Day always includes takeout, I invite you to start a new tradition. Try making your own delicious homemade bagels. You won’t even need to change out of your pajamas.

bagels, from dough to bread

Chosen Eats appears every Thursday on JewishBoston.com. Read past columns, or contact Mari at maril@JewishBoston.com.

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