The bagel been round for hundreds of years and has lengthy been of significance to Polish, Jewish, Israeli, and American communities. The spherical baked good has gone via an evolution, not solely rising by way of dimension, however iterations, be it sourdough-based, wood-fired, or the mega-dense yeast-based hunks stacked in plastic (à la grocery store varieties).
Right here in Australia, the bagel doesn’t have the identical chokehold on the inhabitants because it does overseas, however there’s a rising demand for our tackle the O-shaped bread — one that’s made with biodynamic grains milled by native flour producers, sluggish fermented, and favours high quality over amount.
Hospitality speaks to Carmen Newton and Jack Muir-Rigby from Lots Bagels and Mike Russell from Baker Bleu concerning the magic that’s the bagel.
Lots’ Carmen Newton and Jack Muir-Rigby have lengthy labored in Melbourne’s hospitality sector at venues together with Market Lane Espresso, Embla, Etta, and Hector’s Deli. Whereas the idea may be very a lot native, the thought for what was to turn into Lots struck in Japan.
“We determined to maneuver to Japan for about seven months as a result of I wanted a break,” says Muir- Rigby. “I’d been a chef for the previous 12 years and was burnt out. Sooner or later we got here throughout a bakery the place we lived they usually had freshly baked bagels that have been unbelievable — it gave us an concept of one thing we might work in the direction of that might create higher work–life stability for us each.”
Newton and Muir-Rigby moved again to Melbourne and returned to work. Muir-Rigby
was cooking at Etta, however beginning a bagel enterprise remained very a lot entrance of thoughts for the chef. The duo booked a prolonged analysis journey to the US and Canada, however Covid-19 hit and the journey was cancelled.
“It threw an enormous spanner within the works and was a curveball for our plan,” says
Muir-Rigby. Discovering the huge world of bagels and dealing in bakeries abroad was off the playing cards, however Newton says the impediment gave the pair the kick they wanted. “It pushed us to only begin doing it,” she says. “Jack stopped working and had all this free time, so he began posting bagels on Instagram, and we ended up getting a lot assist. He was baking every single day and delivering bagels all through Melbourne.”
The house-based enterprise progressed to a bricks and mortar location — Etta, to be particular. “They allowed us to prepare dinner and promote our bagels there and the top chef on the time Charley Snadden-Wilson was making sandwiches utilizing our bagels, so we acquired a little bit of a following from there,” says Newton.
Hector’s Deli was the following cease for Muir-Rigby, who was eager to study concerning the ins and outs of working a enterprise. “Dom [Wilton, founder] was eager to have me on
board and I had agreed to work for him after our US journey,” says the chef. “Timing-wise, it labored out as a result of he gave me a job although they weren’t open as a consequence of lockdown. He gave me the reins after they had their first little one, and it was a sink or swim second. Working there was one of the vital rewarding issues I’ve ever completed — studying about how a profitable small (on the time) enterprise operated — I don’t assume we’d be the place we’re right now with out that chance.”
Quick-forward a few years and a few bagel pop-ups at Hector’s in between and it was excessive time to maneuver into utter bagel mode. “The bagels have been placed on the backburner for about two years whereas I used to be at Hector’s and we have been each absolutely employed and fairly busy,” says Muir-Rigby.
The pair now stability Lots with their different jobs, dedicating three days every week to bagels which covers manufacturing and a stall on the Carlton Farmers Market. It’s the primary bodily platform for Lots as a standalone model, with the pair immersing themselves in the neighborhood and forming connections with fellow creatives and producers.
“Having the ability to begin on the market has been unbelievable,” says Muir-Rigby. “It’s made
our job of arising with menu concepts a lot simpler as a result of we get to make use of such good produce from round Victoria.”
However earlier than we skip to the tip product, it’s important to grasp what goes right into a Lots bagel, which is the results of 200-odd recipes over 5 years of growth. All of it begins with the flour, which kinds 90 per cent of the dough. Lots sources baker’s flour from Wholegrain Milling and mix it with an Italian doublezero flour which rounds out the opposite 10 per cent.
“I believe it’s given us the perfect end result by way of texture and flavour,” says Muir-Rigby,
who’s presently working at Wild Life Bakery and churning out 200 loaves of sourdough a day. “It was the one means for me to have the ability to troubleshoot principally something that comes up with making bagels. In my head, if I might study to deal with dough every single day, we ought to be superb.”
Having labored in eating places for a few years, the inclusion of untamed fermentation within the course of was a no brainer, which principally means the 260 or so bagels Lots produce every week are yeast-free and given the time they should naturally leaven. Lots’ starter is left within the fridge throughout off days and is taken out for a feed on Wednesday evening and once more on Thursday morning. 5 hours later, it’s time for the starter’s ultimate meal earlier than it’s added to the dough combine and left to relaxation in a single day.
“On Friday, I divide the dough into 5 tubs after which we carry every tub out and one individual will portion the dough and the opposite will roll it into balls which are left to return as much as temperature and sit for about an hour and a half,” says Muir-Rigby. “Then we poke a gap in them and allow them to sit once more earlier than they’re boiled.”
The bagels are boiled in a vat of water and barley malt, which is what provides the bagels a shiny exterior. The pair examined the whole lot from sugar and honey to rice malt earlier than selecting barley. “We needed it to be vegan and barley malt is such a wholesome product that’s actually scrumptious and provides depth of flavour,” says Newton.
The bagels are boiled for about 45 seconds on either side earlier than they’re moved to a high-heat oven — important for crunch. “We flip them round on the 10-minute mark after which drop the warmth — they’re baked for round 15 to 18 minutes. “The bagels have an excellent open crumb which is one thing now we have been working in the direction of,” provides Muir-Rigby. “You need the feel to be delicate and chewy inside however crunchy on the skin,” quips Newton.
Saturday is market day the place Lots sells an the whole lot bagel topped with a seed mixture with dehydrated crispy shallots and burnt fennel in addition to a sea salt bagel. The third choice revolves fortnightly and has included a fermented chilli, tomato, and sesame bagel in addition to a malt and wattle seed quantity.
The bagels can be found to buy as is or as open sandwiches, that are piled with elements sourced from the markets atop a schmear of Lots’ home cream cheese. “The bottom of the cream cheese is quark from Schulz Natural Dairy,” says Muir-Rigby. “We couldn’t discover a small-batch cream cheese provider, so we combine the quark with one other cream cheese product to stabilise it after which we combine it with no matter is in season. For the time being, we’re doing a smoked trout cream cheese with herbs and pickled tomato salt and chèvre cream cheese with roasted shallot and celeriac jam and Tuscan kale.”
“We solely use three parts on a bagel so we’re not overloading it,” says Newton. “You continue to get the flavour of the bagel which is the star of the present.” Markets will proceed to be the platform of selection for Lots, and Newton and Rigby-Muir wish to broaden to different market places. However the final purpose is to open their very own retailer.
“We’re going to push for that within the subsequent six to 12 months and save as a lot as we are able to,” says Muir-Rigby. “The purpose is 100 per cent to open up a retailer,” provides Newton. “However even with the shop, we need to proceed to do markets as you attain such a broad viewers.”
Baker Bleu is likely one of the pioneers of sluggish bagels within the nation, with its Melbourne and Sydney shops churning out upwards of seven,000 bagels per week. Bagels have at all times been one of many keystones of the bakery, which Founder Mike Russell says have been largely grocery store fare on the time he launched the primary Baker Bleu location in 2016 along with his spouse Mia.
“In Australia, bagels are mass-produced and are often baked in an offsite
location — there’s not a lot retail presence,” he says. “We opened in a Euro-centric a part of Melbourne with a bigger Jewish neighborhood, and I felt a sourdough bagel baked on-site at bakeries was lacking, so we determined to go forward and provide that in a retail surroundings. Bagels have been one of many core objects we began with, and have grown into what it’s now.”
The bagels at Baker Bleu are additionally made with flour sourced from Wholegrain Milling and are produced seven days every week in multi-seed, poppy seed, plain, and sesame iterations. The flour within the bakery’s nation loaf can be used to make the bagels, which is feasible as a result of integrity of the grain grown in Australia.
“The protein ranges are fairly robust so we’re in a position to produce a bagel out of it with a barely decrease hydration,” says Russell, who additionally ideas the manufacturing course of as one of many key variations between sourdough bagels and North American bagels. “We combine the dough, form them, kind them, and relaxation them in a single day for 18 hours. The entire sourdough helps break down the gluten construction and makes it extra digestible, whereas additionally leading to the identical lovely shiny boiled bagel look you see in North America.”
Talking of boiled, Baker Bleu’s bagels aren’t — they’re steamed. It’s a testy topic for a lot of who prescribe to the ‘it’s not a bagel until it’s boiled’ sentiment. “Lots of people are purists, and I see that as the identical as saying a baguette isn’t a baguette until it’s baked in France,” says Russell. “Some even say if it’s not boiled in New York water with honey, it’s not the identical. However we steam our bagels, we don’t boil them. We make a whole lot every single day and it’s not attainable to have a vat of boiling water to move each bagel via earlier than it goes into the oven. The opposite core factor with boiling is that it’s a part of the leavening course of. The strategy we use creates the identical visible likeness and the identical end result.”
The bagels are routinely loaded into Baker Bleu’s oven to make sure they don’t seem to be disturbed earlier than they’re hit with two to 3 litres of steam, which is what creates the shiny end.
“We use quite a lot of water and drench them in steam, then they’re baked for one more 10 minutes at 280 levels Celsius which supplies them a fantastic end and a young consistency inside.”
The Melbourne Baker Bleu shops have been the primary to promote topped bagels, with the product line additionally obtainable on the Double Bay location in Sydney, which is a three way partnership with Neil Perry. “Neil has contributed actually artistic open-faced bagel choices and we’re all the higher for it,” says Russell. “We’ve completed whipped ricotta with scorching English mustard and cucumbers; pastrami; cherry tomatoes with parsley garnish; and no matter is seasonal. Neil has full artistic licence so far as bagels go — the Baker Bleu bagels are the touchdown pad for all his magic. We take quite a lot of satisfaction in ensuring the bagels are at their greatest every single day. Bagels are rising — it’s a rising factor.”