BERKELEY, Calif. — The bagels at Boichik Bagels have the look of Labrador puppies curled up for afternoon naps: soft and pudgy, golden roly-polys (practically made for that old puppy-or-bagel meme).

The bread has a comforting squish — thick but yielding, chewy but not densely so, with a shiny, sweet-and-salty crust and a rich, malty breath that fills up the bag before you even get home.

This is where the writer (me), a former resident of New York City (Brooklyn), smugly tells you that these bagels are good for California bagels, excellent by West Coast standards.

But no, to be clear: Emily Winston’s bagels are some of the finest New York-style bagels I’ve ever tasted. They just happen to be made in Berkeley.

“New York-style is an influence, for sure,” he said, but he still hesitates to use the phrase on his menu. In part, it’s that the term connotes so many different things to different people, often setting them up for disappointment.

Compared with a New York bagel, “our bagel’s not as dense and chewy,” said Mr. Liporace, 34. “And the exterior is different, because we use deck ovens.”

Mr. Beitcher’s bagels have a high hydration, and they’re naturally fermented with a young, liquid-y sourdough starter, left to develop flavor for about 24 hours.

“I was so upset I would never have that bagel again,” Ms. Winston said. Though other locations still operate on the Upper West Side, to many fans, they’re not the same.

In her memory, the H & H bagel was the ideal New York-style bagel. It had a distinct sweetness and a malty perfume. And though some bagel lovers found it too sweet, for Ms. Winston, that sweetness was just right. It defined the bread.

“I mean, it’s not a muffin, it’s not a cupcake, it’s a sweet-neutral, which works really well with cream cheese and lox,” she said.

As she developed her recipe, Ms. Winston took baking classes, and visited bagel stores, particularly in New York. To evaluate each bread, she’d rip it apart and lick the glossy exterior. She was looking for a particular density, maltiness, chew, crust and smell — “I think smell is a really big one,” she said.

Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, who introduced the bagel to Lower Manhattan in the early 1900s, defined the general parameters of a New York-style bagel.

The dough relied on a long, cold fermentation — usually overnight. Changes in the temperature and humidity, as well as the hydration of the dough itself, were all factors in how the flavor and texture developed. The raw rings, traditionally rolled by hand, were boiled briefly, then baked on burlap-wrapped boards.

Water has long been part of New York’s bagel mythology. The city’s tap water is particularly low in magnesium and calcium, which makes it “soft,” in water speak. But bakers can adjust their dough for a boil in soft or hard water to achieve the desired effect.

“It’s not the water source, it’s the baker,” reads the introduction to bagels in “Modernist Bread,” Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya’s 2017 myth-busting bread book.

Ms. Winston uses unfiltered Berkeley tap water. And when she first started baking, she used what she describes as a “crappy, standard electric, total ho-hum not-fancy oven.”

It was a D.I.Y. situation, and she built her own bagel boards, baking off a dozen at a time in her home kitchen. As Ms. Winston became more serious about it, she obtained a cottage food license and posted about the bread on Facebook. Lines grew in her Alameda kitchen, out the front door, down the street, around the block.

Boichik, decorated simply with family photos, had been open only a few months when the pandemic hit. Ms. Winston quickly rethought her business — she pushed to sell wholesale, introduced home delivery, and hired a Shopify developer to build a new website for smoother online ordering.

Now, a socially distanced line dots College Avenue. The bagels, produced in larger quantities, are still fat and chewy and aromatic and malty. But they aren’t replicas of the H & H bagel — they never were.

“I know it’s not exactly the same,” said Ms. Winston. “But it pushes that button in my brain that makes me happy.”

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