This post originally appeared in the April 27, 2020 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.
Just after traffic but before the Kardashians, bagels are among the very worst things about Los Angeles. For the better part of my 20 years spent in this city, I’ve been forced to endure the thick, puffy, round, breadish items that pass themselves off as actual bagels.
Thankfully this has begun to change — over the last few years, some smart LA bakers have started putting out actually pretty good bagels around town. But for a long time, the best way to sate my bagel cravings was to drive two hours east to Palm Springs, where a tiny bagel shop was performing miracles in the desert each morning. Why Palm Springs for bagels? Maybe it’s the high percentage of Jewish retirees, or something about the water (or lack thereof). All I knew was that this tiny off-strip bakery (the name rhymes with “brownie,” but please don’t ruin it, internet family) was putting out possibly the best bagels on the West Coast. So whenever I found myself in the area I bought them — in bulk. Two dozen at least. Then I would drive them home and immediately get to work safeguarding their magnificence.
We all know the key to preserving bagels — and most anything — is freezing. But if you put them in the freezer whole, you have to wait for them to defrost or, worse yet, microwave the bagels before they’re ready to slice and toast. The solution seems simple: slice them before freezing.
But why would you simply slice them when you could... Magic Slice them?? Possibly the greatest food hack ever invented comes courtesy of my mother, who blows the lid off the entire bagel-halving industry with one magical slicing trick that you should immediately employ.
The problem with halving a bagel, especially ones with toppings, is that the top half gets all the love, while the bare bottom half has none of it. This is an inherent structural flaw, especially if you just want to eat half a bagel or share one with a friend, or are just generally noncommittal. Well, here you have the solution:
Step 1. First, you place the bagel face-up on the cutting board and cut it in half crosswise, into two half-moons. As in, across the circle, not lengthwise along the skinny side like you’d normally do.
Step 2. Next, place the flat, just-cut side of each half down the board and carefully slice ALMOST all the way through it, lengthwise. It’s very important to make sure you leave about a half-to-quarter inch or so uncut.
Step 3. Then, put on the theme to Chariots of Fire, and carefully unfold the butterflied bagel and behold its majesty. Here, you have a round bagel, the base of which now features parts of both the former top and bottom.
Step 4. Repeat the process for the other half, take pictures, share immediately across all social channels, feel at one with the universe, and top as desired.
...Or, as is the case when I’m buying in bulk and freezing, it’s time to start wrapping.
If you just put the two cut halves together, throw them in a bag, and freeze, you’ll have to pry them apart for toasting, and you’re leaving much of the cut surface area exposed, putting it at risk of the oxidation/dehydration double whammy known as freezer burn.
So do this instead: Start by tearing off a large sheet of plastic wrap about two feet long. (Yes, plastic is bad. Plastic wrap is really bad. If you’re freezing one or two bagels, feel free to use some beeswax paper or other eco-friendly material. If you’re wrapping a dozen-plus bagels, though, plastic wrap is, unfortunately, the move.) Lay one half of your Magically Wrapped™ bagels face-down on one side of the plastic, then flip over the bagel and wrap together so that now the wrapped, sliced surface is face up. Then place the other half of the same bagel face-down over the already-wrapped half in a glorious reunion, and continue to wrap the whole thing up in the remainder of the plastic. Repeat for as many bagels as you have and freeze for up to two months.
Now, when it comes time to eat them, you can easily unwrap the two bagel halves and put them directly in the toaster, still frozen. The result will be as good as if they were freshly baked, and — thanks to my mom and her Magic Slice — maybe even better.