Why is it difficult to get a good bagel outside of New York? It’s the water! Water chemistry influences baking, and New York’s somewhat unique water plays a role in making tender and chewy bagels. New York City has very soft water — meaning it has low concentrations of calcium and magnesium. Some other East Coast cities have hard water. Hard water enhances the strength of gluten, the protein-containing compound that toughens baked goods. So, differences in water hardness explain the tough rubber-like bagels you get in other cities.
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