The Secret Behind Jersey Bagels: Teaneck, New Jersey Ranked Best Bagel In The Country
Food and Wine Magazine recently put out a list of the 50 best bagel shops in the country. Only one New Jersey bagel shop made the list…Teaneck Road Hot Bagels. I’ve been there..they've got great Kosher bagels with an amazing chew but they are just too small...which I guess is a compliment because I always want more. In any event, the fact that NJ and NY don’t take every single spot up on the list is suspect. Maybe it’s just because I grew up here, but the bagels in Jersey are the best and here's why:
The Chew: The most important part of any good bagel is the contrast of the crusty outer layer vs. the dense tug of war chew offered on the inside. A Jersey bagel will literally make you fight through the gluten like a dog tugging on your old T-shirt.
Chemistry: Yes, I know you tuned this class out in high school. Well, if they were telling us how to make the perfect bagel maybe we would have paid attention! Science plays a part in the Jersey bagel game. New Jersey’s water is soft, (low calcium and magnesium). This soft water reacts with the gluten in the dough to create the above mentioned chew. Hard water strengthens gluten and makes bread hard as a rock.
Population: Jersey is freaking populated and if there's a payoff to being shoulder to shoulder all the time it's the fact that we need to bake in bulk. Since shops are so busy they are making hundreds of pounds of dough at a clip. After it's made, they have enough to let it rest in a cooler for a day or so before hand rolling. By letting the dough proof (rest) there is more chemistry...the yeast is fermenting and magic is happening. You can‘t do this if you live in some one horse town.
Even though I feel like I just gave away all our secrets, I'm not worried because for a bagel to really be good it has to be served with an attitude that's only found here and simply can't be duplicated. I'm ready to eat...tell ya what, you drive, I'll treat.
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