Bagels are deceptively simple. Flour, water, yeast, honey, salt…there’s not much to your basic bagel recipe, so it all comes down to the quality of each ingredient and the level of skillful technique possessed by the baker putting it all together. It’s part science, part artisty. I sat down with local baker and Big Bon co-founder Kay Heritage to learn more about creating the best bagel.
“Food is my love language,” Kay explained as we settled on stools at a counter inside the bright and cheery Big Bon Bodega on Bull Street. The Big Bon venture started up in 2016, as a food truck serving wood-fired pizza. Just a few months ago, Kay and co-founder Anna, who also happens to be her daughter, opened the Bodega, a neighborhood shop and eatery, which serves up a variety of tasty handmade bagels with a host of fixings and smears.
“I thought it would be fun to try bagels, but they definitely have a steep learning curve,” Kay said. The Big Bon team spent countless hours working on their recipes and baking technique, encouraged along the way by a supportive Savannah culinary community.
For a batch of 240 bagels, Big Bon bakers use 1.3 kg of City tap water. In addition to being a key ingredient that goes inside the bagel, water also has an important role to play on the outside of a bagel too. Before baking in a wood-fired oven, Big Bon boils their bagels in water lightly sweetened with local honey. Boiling sets the crust and helps create the signature chewiness of a great bagel. The longer a bagel boils, the more dense the interior and chewy the texture.
Kay said of Savannah water, “For us, the water is the best it could be. For baking, for brewing our coffee…we thought about taking extra steps to filter the water, but we haven’t had a reason.”
Check-out Big Bon
Tuesday-Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
2011 Bull Street, Savannah GA 31401
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