Anyone who has lugged a bag of bagels back to Washington from New York knows that bagels freeze fairly well. It's the reheating that doesn't really work.
Janet Dob understands this frustration. "I love bagels. I've always loved bagels," says the New Jersey native. Tired of needing a bagel fix and finding only mediocre versions in the freezer aisle, she spent the past 18 years developing a way to circumvent the problem.
"I went into it just wanting to get a really good New York-style bagel that someone could bake at home and have fresh," says Dob, now based out of a small factory in Charlottesville.
Her solution is a patent-pending process that upends the conventional approach to bagel-making. Traditionally, bagel dough is first kettle-boiled briefly to puff the dough and stabilize the shape, then baked in an oven to impart a chewy crust and complete the cooking.
Dob decided instead to only boil the bagels and leave the baking to the home cook. The bagels can go straight from freezer to oven, where they acquire that characteristic warm, chewy goodness. The bagels can then be split and smeared or dropped in a toaster.
Dob dubbed the bagels Agnes' Very Very Organic Bake 'mmm Bagels. They come in three flavors: plain, whole wheat and cinnamon raisin. For that special New York touch, Dob suggests consumers spritz the plain bagels lightly with water and then dip the tops in coarse salt, poppy seeds or sesame seeds just prior to baking. (Bagel proselytizer that she is, Dob imparts additional bagel wisdom on her Web site, including the easiest way to cut a bagel that's fresh out of the oven.)
New York bagels they are not. They're a little larger and a little less chewy. But they're pretty darn close. And in a sense, they're even better: According to the label, they are "entirely unmessed with." Find that in New York.
Agnes' Very Very Organic Bake 'mmm Bagels are available locally for $3.69 and $3.79 per four-bagel bag at some Whole Foods Markets. Also available by mail order; call 866-248-0908 or see www.agnesveryvery.com.
-- Renee Schettler