Flagel? What’s a flagel? If your favorite part of the bagel is the chewy, crunchy crust, you’re going to love NY flagels, which are basically flattened out bagels with a much larger crust to bready interior ratio!
I looked up the origin of the flagel, and there are a lot of different theories. Some sources say that it was invented during the 90’s low-carb craze. This theory doesn’t make much sense because a flagel has the same amount of dough as a bagel, it just has more crunchy surface area, and less bready fluff. It’s just as likely that the flagel was invented as a mistake when someone was making bagels. After all, a lot of great recipes have been invented from little “mistakes”.
Almost every bagel shop in New York City and Long Island sells flagels, although I’ve never seen them outside that area. Lucky for you, you can now make flagels at home, and there are three great reasons that a flagel might just be better than a regular bagel.
- Although the flagel starts out the same amount of dough as a bagel, it is flattened out just before it’s boiled, so it bakes up thinner and wider, offering a lot more crust to bready interior. This is great if you love a bagel’s chewy crust.
- The second reason is that, because it’s wider it has a lot more surface area for loads more toppings.
- Following the same reasoning, with a flagel you have more area for all kinds of delicious fillings. And because it’s thinner you can pile it high and still be able to get your mouth around it!
A flagel is made exactly the same way as a bagel, except that it it flattened out before boiling. I use a rolling pin to flatten the flagel to about 1/2 inch thickness.
Boiling is an important step for making both bagels and flagels because the boiling water causes the starches on the surface of the bagel to gelatinize resulting in a thicker, chewy crust. If you skip the boiling step, you will end up with regular rolls with a whole in the middle.
Although it is not absolutely necessary, adding some baking soda to the boiling water takes the boiling a step further. The baking soda makes the water more alkaline, further contributing to the chewy exterior, as well as helping to make the crust shiny and golden brown.
The longer the flagels are boiled, the thicker and chewier the crust will be. I find that 30 seconds per side produces just the right amount of chew.
After removing the flagels from the boiling water, top them with whatever bagel topping you like. Some great toppings are sesame seeds, hemp seeds, dehydrated onion or garlic flakes, poppy seeds, coarse salt, or of course, you can use all of them for a classic everything flagel.
For the flagel dough:
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or brown sugar
- 1¼ cups lukewarm water
For boiling the flagels
- 2 quarts water
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
To make the flagel dough:
- Place all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Knead with the dough attachment for 10 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot in your kitchen until it's about double in size – 1 to 1½ hours depending on how warm your kitchen is.
- Turn the dough out on to your counter and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and poke a whole in the middle with your finger. Stretch it out to about 1½ to 2 inches wide.Place on a well floured baking sheet, so the flagels don't stick. Allow them to rise for 30 minutes.
- Before boiling the flagels, preheat the oven to 400℉. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper,
- When you are ready to boil the flagels, take each piece and flatten it with a rolling pin to about ½ thickness.
- Allow the flagels to rest for 10 minutes while you bring two quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add ½ teaspoon baking soda.
- Carefully drop each flagel in the water – make sure they have plenty of room so they don't stick to each other. Boil for about 30 seconds, then flip and boil for another 30 seconds.
- Remove the flagels from the water using a slotted spoon or strainer, and place on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with your favorite toppings.
- Bake the flagels for twenty minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time.
- Cool on a wire rack.