Friday June 14th, 2024
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Sousi’s Serves Everything Bagel - From the Bun to the Cream Cheese

Because what good is a bagel without the right cheese?

Layla Raik

Sousi’s Serves Everything Bagel - From the Bun to the Cream Cheese

When we first stumbled upon the all-new Sousi’s Bagels, primarily through their charming Instagram account, we were intrigued, to say the least. Despite their enticingly fluffy appearance, these bagels bore little resemblance to the ones commonly found on the streets of Cairo. Either we were sorely uninformed about bagels – which, sorry, but no – or Sousi's creations were an entirely different breed. Naturally, we felt compelled to investigate further.

As it turns out, Sousi’s bagels are simply well-traveled - a multinational treat combining recipes from all corners of the world.

Once upon a time, Sousi, more formally known as Asmaa ElSaid, strolled the streets of New York without a care in the world, save for one major daily concern: where would she source her daily bagel today? 

As she tried shop after shop, now traversing the US and Canada to visit expat members of her family, Sousi’s family of bakers decided to take matters into their own hands. Perhaps a sort of Pavlovian attempt to trick Sousi into staying longer, the ElSaid family began experimenting with bagel-baking in their very own kitchen.

“My family has always consisted of die-hard baking fanatics, on both sides,” tells ElSaid, “so it was only natural we gave bagels a shot.”

But Sousi gave bagels more than just a shot. Eventually, she had to bid farewell to her beloved bagels and return to Egypt. However, she came back a changed person – one equipped with love, skill, and ample experience to create the life her heart desired. And, of course, that life included plenty of bagels.

“The bagels I tried here in Egypt were nice, but they were too focused on the filling and not on the batter - like bagels were just some regular bread,” Sousi tells Scene Eats. “A good bagel doesn’t really need any filling - it’s supposed to be flavourful enough on its own. Except maybe for cream cheese.

So when I was trying to make my own, I really paid attention to the recipe, and realised there was a whole world of bagels out there.”

As Sousi began baking for her friends, she discovered that bagels only originated as a German-Polish bakery, but grew to vary in recipes all over the world. There’s New-York-style bagels, Japanese bagels, German bagels, and many more. Type by type, country by country, Sousi experimented with various recipes but didn’t really love any of them. So she decided to build her own recipe. 

“I really liked how crunchy the New-York-style bagel was, but it was too hard. The Japanese bagel was well off on fluff, but it was so soft it was almost underwhelming. I played around with ingredients until I reached a recipe that was between both: super fluffy but crunchy on the outside.”

At this point, Sousi’s Bagels occupy such premium bagel territory that all you really need is a classic, or at most a sea salt-encrusted bagel. Regardless, the shop boasts an array of bagel flavours: classic, sesame, everything, cinnamon, chocolate swirl and, recently, 4-cheese and tomato basil. 

“Our tomato basil bagel is a really special creation, and one I think you especially don’t need filling. It’s the regular recipe, plus basil in the batter. Then it’s covered in sundried tomatoes for good measure.”

Wondering where Sousi gets her inspiration? Well, it’s simple. “I’m a very outdoorsy person. I’m always in nature and, by extension, always inspired by nature, which reflects onto my bagels. I’m deeply inspired by how the vibrant flavours of natural herbs and vegetables bounce off each other harmoniously in a single bagel.”

Simple or not, every single bagel made by Sousi is hand-shaped with love. “I think a really important element of my bagels is the care that goes into them. I hand-shape every single bagel - I think that really embeds good energy into them.”

Besides good energy, Sousi also crafts flavoured cream cheese to go with her bagels. There’s the garlic rosemary cream cheese, which perfectly complements the Everything bagel, and the sweet cream cheese frosting, which pairs perfectly well with the cinnamon bagel. So much so that it almost tastes like a cinnamon bun, but healthier and more “bagel-y”. 

“I try to match each cream cheese to a suggested bagel pairing, to create a duo that complements each other perfectly. So, naturally, more cream cheeses are on the way.”

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