Wootown bagels are always hand rolled by me or somebody I’ve fooled into thinking it’s simple. That sucker as of now is local Wooster, Ohio Instagram legend and yogi extraordinaire Allyson Kopina (@padawanyogini). When making handmade bagels there are essentially two ways to shape your dough. While we were experimenting and tweaking our recipes we tried both, “the poke” and “the rope” methods, and we settled on the latter. I could lie and say the rope technique is a more noble or authentic way of hand making bagels but honestly it’s faster and just looks cooler while you do it. Oh and I forgot, the bagels do end up a little less bulbous and make for prettier bagels on your plate. At least we think so.
Then what’s with the sucks part you say? Well bagel dough is no joke when it comes to how tough it can be to work with, especially if you use a “proper” flour that has a higher gluten content compared to say your plain jane all purpose flour. It is this higher gluten content that is the key to delivering you with a righteously chewy bagel. Mass produced bagels are made with a bagel machine, which takes all the sweat and “fun” out of the process. From what we’ve heard and tasted, these machines can’t handle a high gluten dough and so mass producers have to settle for a flour with a lower gluten content. And this is just one reason why most mass produced bagels don’t have that true authentic chewiness that a traditional bagel has.
So hand rolling hundreds and thousands of authentic and traditional high gluten bagels at a time can take some oomph and a few beads of sweat (not in the dough of course). But if this is the cross we have to bear we will do so, if only for our loyal and local lovers of handmade bagels.