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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Schmendricks Pursues the Brooklyn Bagel

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 9:29 AM

click to enlarge Brooklyn bagels: Schmendricks' holy grail. - SUSANNYC/FLICKR
  • SusanNYC/Flickr
  • Brooklyn bagels: Schmendricks' holy grail.

"As a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, I've always done the NY bagel snob where I complained and complained and complained," says David Kover, one of the cofounders of Schmendricks Bagels, "Until another friend told me to shut up." 

Kover, a psychologist and food writer, took the advice to heart. Working with his neighbors, Deepa Subramanian and her husband, Kover and his wife began baking batches of bagels in his Mission apartment two years ago, chasing after the taste of the bagels his family would pick up every weekend. He didn't have much luck until he tracked down an old high-school classmate on Facebook who had worked in the bagel shop as a kid; his friend offered Kover a couple of baking tips that made all the difference. "We eventually had something really good," he says.

That was when the four neighbors decided to go into the bagel-baking business. Bakers from the two households have been shuttling back and forth, testing batches, for months, and the two couples took an exploratory trip back to Brooklyn, hitting 13 bagel shops in one morning. A few months ago, they signed a lease on a commercial kitchen. Subramanian quit her job as a corporate lawyer to serve as Schmendricks' head baker. Now they're trying to scale up their recipes to work with the larger ovens.

So what are the characteristics of a perfect bagel, according to Kover?

"It's denser and smaller than most people think of," Kover says. "It has to be chewy, with that crisp crust on the outside and a good, malty flavor. You're not going to find any blueberries or sun-dried tomatoes in our bagels. We're just doing plain, onion, garlic, salt, poppy, sesame, onion, and maybe an everything."

More importantly, a good bagel doesn't need to be toasted. "We would never toast our bagels," Kover says. "We'd get the bag home from the Bagel Hole and rip into it immediately. A perfect food on its own. We might had cream cheese, margarine, or lox on the second or third bagel."

Schmendricks hopes to start full-scale production in January. There are no retail spaces planned, but Kover's hoping to start supplying cafes and offices at first. You can track the progress of their launch by following their Facebook page and Twitter feed.

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