PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes at Black Seed Bagels

We dropped by just at the beginning of the vampire shift at Black Seed Bagels, when head baker Dianna Daoheung and her crew were getting the oven up to temperature and rolling the very first batches.

18-DSC_0781 jess chou black seed bagel

All-nighters are primarily associated with high school exams and college procrastination, but sometimes in modern, adult life, they’re necessary. Especially when 600 bagels need to get out the door at 5 a.m.

Enter the vampire shift at Black Seed, the bagel project from Mile End’s Noah Bernamoff and The Smile’s Matt Kliegman. Their hand-rolled bagels, first boiled then baked in a wood-fired oven, were so popular the first week, folks waited in a line long enough to warrant cronut comparisons. Since then, the team has smoothed out production, adding on an outpost at Hudson Eats, and are aiming to expand their hours (right now, they’re only open until 4 p.m.).

We dropped by just at the beginning of the vampire shift, when head baker Dianna Daoheung and her crew were getting the oven up to temperature and rolling the very first batches of bagels. It was the start of a seven hour shift. “Sometimes two or three hours will go by and we won’t say anything to each other because we’re just zoning out,” Daoheung says. “I’ll just put TLC on and keep singing to stay awake.”

10:15 p.m.
Dianna works on hand-rolling the first batch of bagels, while Rob Rohl gets the oven up to temperature.

0-DSC_88522 Jess chou black seed bagel 1-DSC_0502 Jess chou black seed bagel

10:18 p.m.
To get the oven up to 450 degrees, Rohl starts the wood on one side of the oven at the starter flame, before moving the wood to the left.

4-DSC_0623 Jess chou black seed bagel 3-DSC_87712 jess chou black seed bagel 2-DSC_0455 Jess chou black seed bagel

10:25 p.m.
The first batch of 24 bagels is rolled within a half-hour — 576 to go.

5-DSC_0464 Jess chou black seed bagels

10:58 p.m.
Bagels are first boiled in honey water before seasoning and baking. “We like to say they look like giant Cheerios,” Rohl says.

6-DSC_88702 jess chou black seed bagels 7-DSC_0561 jess chou black seed bagels 8-DSC_88842 jess chou black seed bagels

11:00 p.m.-midnight
Post-boiling, bagels are sprinkled with toppings, placed on wooden slate, and baked.

9-DSC_89412 jess chou black seed bagels
10-DSC_89882-COMPOSITE jess chou black seed bagels
11-DSC_89922 jess chou black seed bagels

12:51 a.m.
Bagels are turned three times in the oven; each batch takes approximately 15 minutes to finish.

12-DSC_90892 jess chou black seed bagels 13-DSC_89162 jess chou black seed bagels

12:58 a.m.
Bagels get tossed into the bagel shoot. Gradually, the shoot fills up.

14-DSC_0829 jess chou black seed bagels jess chou black seed bagels jess chou black seed bagels jess chou black seed bagels

1:14 a.m.
Meanwhile, there are many more boxes of unrolled dough to go through.

jess chou black seed bagels jess chou black seed bagels jess chou black seed bagels jess chou black seed bagels jess chou black seed bagels

1:23 a.m.
One of the last batches before the shoot fills up; once the bagels are cooled, the team starts packing them up to transport downtown, typically at 3 or 4 a.m.

jess chou black seed bagels

1:30 a.m.
The shoot is completely full (12 batches have been baked at this point, some 288 bagels).

jess chou black seed bagels

Newsletter

Categories

Jessica is a multimedia journalist living in New York City, covering lifestyle and culture.