CBS Los Angeles

Master Baker Relies On Art, Math And Science To Make Ideal Bagel

Nick Schrieber, co-owner and master baker of Belle’s Bagels in Highland Park, says art, math and science are key ingredients for the perfect bagel.

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – For many Angelenos, the perfect bagel is more than a meal. It’s soul food. And its elusive.

“My goal was to make bagels for myself but it ended up being something a little bit bigger than that,” says Nick Schreiber, co-owner and master baker of Belle’s Bagels in Highland Park.

His ideal bagel?

“A super, bubbly, crisp crust, a good chew, little tinge of sweetness.”

To see how Schreiber makes it all happen, we headed out in the Toyota Mobile Weather Lab.

The kitchen opens up at 4 a.m. The stove gets fired, water starts steaming and malt syrup is added. Then, dough rolled into bagels on the previous day is added to the brew.

After two minutes in boiling water, bagels are fished out, coated with toppings and then into the oven they go.

Meanwhile, mixing begins for the next day’s batch.

“Precision is almost of the utmost importance to baking.”

Of all the STEAM disciplines — science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics — bagel-making relies mostly on art, math and science.

“Chemistry, through and through.”

“The yeast basically makes the dough alive,” he says. “It is basically the life force behind bread.”

As for the water?

“We decided to go with our favorite which is L.A. tap water.”

But to give Belle’s Bagels their own unique flavor, Schreiber employs an Heirloom technique called Pâté Fermentée.

“So you basically save dough from an old recipe.” Soak it in the next day’s water, “then you put it in the next day’s dough and you kind of build up this depth of flavor.”

Once all the ingredients are loaded the mixer gets to work. As Schreiber and his team start cutting, weighing and rolling tomorrow’s batch, bagels just out of the oven are packed up, shipped out and ready for sale at the Belle’s Bagels window.

The window opens at 7:00 a.m. By 1:00 p.m., 400 bagels will likely be sold out.

“You know bread is good if sometimes you can’t get that bread.”

Schreiber said it was following his passion I gave him the stamina to do all the work it takes to succeed.

“Bagels mean a lot to me. They represent a big part of my childhood and just hearing that I’m filling a void in someone else’s life is one of the great things for me.”