a few months ago, a bakery named orwashers opened a new location on the upper west side and after one bite of croissant and another bite of homemade sourdough bread, our entire family was undoubtedly obsessed and found ourselves standing in line almost every morning in the coming weeks for the good stuff (samson often asks for a chocolate croissant for breakfast now first thing in the morning). since then, we’ve bought and brought home over 10 different kinds of artisan breads that they make (josh is determined to try all of them, as josh does) and it’s been fun having a new bread in the kitchen every few days for our morning breakfasts together.
funny story! when josh and i went to see saturday night live a few months ago, we happened to walk into the theater and stand in line right next to keith cohen, who is owner of the bakery. he came up to me and asked, “do you mind if i ask you something? were you in orwashers bakery yesterday morning?” i replied that i had been, to which he asked, “what did you order? did you like it?” i had no idea yet that he was the owner of the bakery and started raving about his croissant to him. haha! he is the nicest and we loved getting to chat and learn more about the backstory of the bakery, how the upper west side location is the bakery’s second (the original has been an upper east side staple for over a century), and hear a bit more behind some of our favorite baked goods that orwashers makes fresh each morning.
josh and i were able to go behind the counter and into the kitchen of orwashers last week to make our very own bagels with keith and with his general manager, jules morland, who taught us the ins and outs behind what makes the new york orwasher bagel so good. neither josh or i had ever made a bagel before, and truly had the best time ever. (how can you not when you’re surrounded by so many CAAARRBBBSS?)
some photos from the morning below, and also some tips for making bagels at home from keith and jules (like spraying your oven with water to help them steam!)…
they showed us how they make their starter, which consists of simply flour and water. it gradually rises from yeast in the air over time. they take part of it out for each batch and then “feed” the starter with more flour and water as needed over several weeks.
since jules is french and learned the trade in france, the recipes have measurements converted from the metric system into the strangest proportions like 3.082 pounds of flour or something! this picture is when i was seriously stressing trying to get the exact amount to show up on the scale and not a decimal over or under. ;)
we felt so fancy in our aprons with towels in the pocket! i felt like a true baker!
we made a recipe for 5 dozen bagels. that’s a lot of flour!
orwashers uses some honey and malt for color, texture, and flavor.
one tip keith shared with us for baking any bread at home is for when you’ll know when it’s the right consistency in the mixer. when the dough starts to slap or hit the sides of your mixing machine at home as it spins but doesn’t stick to the sides, it’s time to turn it off right away! he says it’s very easy to over mix the dough and it can happen very quickly. start the mixer on the slowest setting and then slowly work your way up with less and less time on the higher settings.
i shared a few videos on my instagram stories the day we were baking, and showed how jules taught us to form the bagel with the dough. it’s really fun once you get into a routine of making one after the next. jules rolls out the ball of dough using just one hand until it’s about 8 inches long and then wraps it around his hand like you see in the photo above. he rolls the two ends of the dough together in the palm of his hand once more to help secure the ends together, and then it’s done! so simple. for bagels that have poppyseed or sesame seeds, dip the top of the bagels in a moist towel and then into the seeds. if you’re feeling really awesome, try rolling them out two at a time!
so proud of all the bagels i just made!!!!!
when the boys started racing to see who could make the most the fastest. haha!
love this one of josh!
we insisted on trying a HOT bagel straight out of the oven and we were laughing pretty hard at josh because it was seriously so hot and he didn’t have the patience to let it cool, he was just so excited!
keith and jules worked together for months experimenting to find just the right recipe for their bagels. they finally figured out how to make them without boiling them first (which is the traditional method for bagels) and they think they are even better. orwashers has a really cool steam feature in their ovens, but for all of us at home, keith says you can try spraying the inside of your oven with a little bit of water to recreate this method of baking the bagels.
we had fun being a team and pretending it was our own little bakery kitchen for a minute. ;) maybe if we had a slightly bigger kitchen at home we’d be in there together more creating recipes and cooking up a storm?! haha. i always tell josh maybe there is this huge chef/cook side of me he hasn’t seen because i haven’t had the proper set up yet to discover that i actually love cooking. just kidding!!!
keith says josh was a natural with that baker’s paddle. no bagels fell or were harmed in the making of these photos.
here’s keith soaking in the smell of fresh baked bread! ;) one of the things i loved that he said during our lesson was how he is constantly trying to learn about best practices and techniques for baking. every year they do continuing education so that they are always improving and at their best. such a good example of continuing to perfect your craft, even when you’re already on top. loved that.
thank you for autographing your book for us, keith!!
such a fun lesson, and excited to go back again to learn how they make some of their artisan breads. i want to bring my video camera next time so you can see more of the process in action and hear keith and jules tell you just how it all happens. this post is not sponsored, but a big thank you to orwashers to having us in their kitchen to learn something new!
pictures by amanda petersen for love taza.
black turtleneck: beaded black turtleneck
jeans: highwaisted jeans