I’ve lived in New York for almost six years now and I’ve been in nine different homes (if you decide to count college dorm situations) in several neighborhoods. I’ve never found a go-to bagel shop near any apartment I’ve loved enough to frequent on lazy Sunday mornings for breakfast. That’s not to say I haven’t had good bagels—it’s New York, I’ve had many good bagels—I just hadn’t found “the one” for me. I stumbled upon Slow Rise a few weeks back and got to try some freshly baked bagels and for me, these bagels checked all of my boxes: local to Ridgewood, super tasty, and perfect for lazy Sunday mornings.
Slow Rise is one of many businesses that were started during the pandemic. The home business sells and delivers freshly made bagels, but also weekly specials such as lavender-lemon madeleines and mini pineapple upside-down cakes. What made these bagels stand out for me was the depth of flavor and crisp outside, which are key characteristics of Slow Rise’s Montreal-inspired bagels. A few weeks ago, I had the chance to virtually meet with the woman behind Slow Rise and learn about her new small business and what makes her bagels so darn good.
When the city’s indoor dining services had to halt overnight last March, owner and baker Janelle Jirau found herself without work like most other restaurant industry professionals. With the additional time she had, she started to bake for herself and her neighbors, and when she received positive responses from neighbors, she decided to sell her baked goods. Janelle is by no means new to the world of baking breads and pastries for sale; she studied baking and pastry at the Culinary Institute of America and she has years of experience in New York City restaurants. She chose bagels because at the time she started her business, she noticed that most bagel shops were closed and wanted to bake something that people didn’t have much access to.
The name “Slow Rise” comes from Janelle’s bagel-making process. She prepares the dough the afternoon before she bakes the final product, and she uses a cold proofing method by putting the dough in the fridge for 8-10 hours. She explained that while bakers usually proof dough at room temperature, a cold proof will allow the dough to rise slowly over a longer period of time and add more flavor to the dough. And as someone who has had several Slow Rise bagels, I think her process makes a very flavorful bagel and even in a chocolate chip bagel, the bread’s flavor is not overpowered by the chocolate.
Janelle said that the bagels she makes are “Montreal-inspired” because they require some techniques of Montreal-style bagels such as the inclusion of honey, but don’t get all of the treatments such as the use of a wood-burning oven. And while some people might think it’s strange to create Montreal-inspired bagels in New York City, she is aiming to create something unique for city residents to try and put herself in a different market. She also listens carefully to what her customers want, expanding bagel varieties upon their requests and developing her weekly specials around flavor profiles based on customers’ preferences.
I ate my bagels from Slow Rise as-is: warmed in the oven for just a few minutes then sliced. No butter, no cream cheese, just on its own. This is how Janelle says they’re best eaten and how she personally eats them as well; she feels that this is how you get the most flavor from her bagels. If you want to make a sandwich with your bagel, she says go for it, as many of her customers enjoy making a classic BEC or deli sandwich with their bagels. But I agree with Janelle—you get the deep flavor of the bread when you eat it without any accompaniments. When you do, I think the care and craftsmanship that she puts into her process is obvious and you can appreciate the artistry behind her version of a Montreal-inspired bagel.
I highly recommend getting your weekend brunch bagels from Slow Rise and maybe a weekend special pastry to save for a snack. My personal favorite was Roasted Garlic and Rosemary bagel, which was not only something you can’t find in your usual bagel shop, but possibly the best tasting bagel I’ve had in my six years in New York. A close second for me is the Jalapeño Cheddar bagel, which is also incredibly flavorful and feels like I’m eating jalapeño poppers for breakfast. Bagel flavors are rotated based on customer preferences—in fact, Slow Rise is developing flavors right now! As for pastries, Janelle bakes different things each week. I recently got to try her Coffee Crumb Muffin and it made a wonderful sweet afternoon snack. But also keep an eye out for her mini pineapple upside-down cakes and her cookies—her top selling specialty item and her favorite thing to bake, respectively.
Oh, and here’s a tip: make sure to order ahead for the weekend as Slow Rise sometimes sells out beforehand and you know you want some treats delivered for your weekend morning!
Check out Slow Rise and order your bagels through DMs at @slowrisebagel