Jewish Krakover Bagels Recipe / Polish Obwarzanki Krakowski Recipe

Obwarzanki Krakowski
Chris Brown / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • 85 mins
  • Prep: 60 mins,
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 1 dozen bagels (12 servings)
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This recipe for egg-free Jewish Krakover Bagels (Krakover Beyglach) is also known as Polish Obwarzanki Krakowski and is from Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg's "Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking" (Camino Books, 2011).

Street food vendors sell these twisted ring breads from colorful carts throughout Poland, but especially in the main market square of Kraków. Smaller, untwisted rings are threaded on a string and many children wear them like a necklace, munching as the spirit moves them. The Polish bagel is crustier and not as dense as the water bagels so popular in New York City and other American cities.

As for the bagel's origin, the debate rages on. According to Ginsberg and Berg, the earliest mention of bagels dates to "1610, in the Jewish community statutes of Kraków, which included bagels among the gifts customarily given to women in childbirth, midwives and others present. ... Given these earlier sources, the legend that traces the bagel's origin back to Polish King Jan III Sobieski's defeat of the Turkish assault on Vienna in 1683 clearly is just that -- a legend."

This is a two-day recipe that takes about 1 hour of actual preparation time, spread out over 16 to 24 hours.

What You'll Need

  • 1 tablespoon/22g diastatic malt (powder or syrup)
  • 1 1/2 cups water (warm at 105F/40C)
  • 1 tablespoon/355g water (warm at105F/40C)
  • 5 cups/680 g flour (high-gluten or bread)
  • 2 teaspoons/14g salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon/2g yeast (instant)
  • Optional: Sesame seeds or poppy seeds

How to Make It

Day 1:

  1. Dissolve the malt in the water. If you're using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, stir it in now and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until it foams. If using instant yeast, just dissolve the malt in the water. The instant yeast does not need to be dissolved and will go in dry with the flour and salt (see below).
  2. Use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer set at the lowest speed (1 on a KitchenAid) or use a wooden spoon to blend the flour, salt, and instant yeast (if using instead of active dry yeast).
  1. Then add the malt-water mixture.
  2. If using a stand mixer, mix with the paddle attachment until a shaggy dough forms, about 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 10 minutes.
  3. If making the dough by hand, mix the dough vigorously for about 10 minutes. In either case, the dough will be ready when it's smooth, silky and stretches when you pull a pinch away from the mass.
  4. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured surface, form it into a thick log shape, about 12 inches (30 cm) wide by 4 inches (10cm) in diameter, cover and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  5. Cut the dough in half lengthwise and roll each portion into a strip of dough about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Divide the strips lengthwise into four pieces about 3/4 inch (2 cm wide), and roll each into a cylinder about 24 inches (60 cm) long and the thickness of a pencil. If you can't get enough traction on your work surface, mist it very lightly with water or swab it with a damp paper towel.
  6. Fold the cylinder in the middle to form a double strip about 12 inches (30 cm) long and twist it into a tight spiral. Carefully seal the ends together to form a slender, twisted ring about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter.
  7. Arrange the bagels on a cornmeal-dusted or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover well but loosely with plastic wrap (or, preferably, put inside a food-grade plastic bag) and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2 (The Next Day):

  1. Heat oven to 460 F (240 C). Bring 3 to 4 quarts (3-4 liters) water mixed with 2 tablespoons (40 g) diastatic malt to a rolling boil.
  1. Take out only as many chilled bagels as you can boil and bake at one time and plunge them into the boiling water until they float.
  2. Drain on a cooling rack and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds or other toppings, if desired, and bake on cornmeal-dusted or parchment-lined baking sheets for 15 to 18 minutes until they are a rich brown. If you aren't using toppings, flip the bagels after 3 minutes and continue to bake for another 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before eating.

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