Laurie Leiber's kits can help you make bagels that look this good.
Laurie Leiber's kits can help you make bagels that look this good.

Kits to make those bagels yourself; Boichik launches ‘pink label’ cream cheese; etc.

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Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

The Bay Area is experiencing a real bagel boom. But for those willing to put in a bit of labor, Oaklander Laurie Leiber can help them make their own fresh bagels at home.

Pre-pandemic, Leiber taught bagel-making classes in her home kitchen. While that’s on hold, she’s offering a make-your-own bagel kit. It comes with premade dough and clear instructions on how to shape, boil and bake the bagels. (Note: This columnist offered to test-drive the product and loved the results.)

Leiber taught herself how to make bagels when “I accidentally made too much starter for my go-to sourdough bread,” she said. “I hate waste, and I didn’t want to just keep adding jars of starter to my crowded fridge.”

Looking for creative uses for the extra starter, she found a bagel recipe in the back of Nancy Silverton’s “Breads from the La Brea Bakery” cookbook, and the bagels turned out better than she could have hoped.

When she invited some fellow members from Temple Sinai over to show them how to make the bagels, one person was so enthused she suggested that Leiber start teaching classes, which she did until Covid-19 hit.

Leiber has just started to offer the kits; each comes with 18 oz. of naturally fermented dough (enough for six 3-oz. bagels), semolina flour, poppy and sesame seeds, a sheet of parchment paper and detailed instructions. Until she expands her distribution, kits can be bought by emailing [email protected].

When Emily Winston opened Boichik Bagels, part of her longing for New York bagel culture included just the right cream cheese. Winston’s schmear of choice was Temp Tee, a kosher whipped product found on the East Coast. She wanted to offer it at Boichik, but couldn’t get a distributor to ship it out West. Creating her own version of Temp Tee was on her agenda, but she had too many other things on her plate in opening the bagel shop to see it through.

Now, over a year after opening in Berkeley, she has a house-made pink label cream cheese that approximates Temp Tee (whose label is also bright pink).

“I’d say it’s about a 98 to 99 percent match, and being a somewhat recovered perfectionist, I’m calling it good enough,” she wrote in her latest newsletter.

The label cheekily says “Boichik Bagels pink label” on it, with “If you know, you know.”

She’s also found a steady source of Anthora cups, the to-go cup prevalent in many New York delis and diners, with “We are so happy to serve you” on them in blue, white and gold.

The JCCSF has launched a new food series for young adults called Nosh on This, and its first installment on Feb. 25 will feature Philadelphia-based chef Michael Solomonov making savory hamantaschen with feta cheese and leeks for Purim. Savory hamantaschen have been a popular twist on the Purim favorite by Israeli bakers in recent years. Solomonov is the co-owner and executive chef of several Israeli and Jewish restaurants in Philly, including the James Beard Award-winning Zahav.

The series is designed so that participants who attend the chef demo can also register to gather virtually with other food-minded folks afterward and, if they like, volunteer to assemble meals for Project Open Hand. Upcoming installments for Passover and Shavuot will feature Instagram chef Jake Cohen and Israeli New Yorker chef Einat Admony. For information, visit

Two local Jewish cheese mavens have teamed up to offer a four-part tasting of some of the world’s best cheeses. Called “Cheese O’Clock,” it’s offered by Janet Fletcher and Laura Werlin, and participants can travel the world through cheese. The first class is “Europe Off the Beaten Path” on Feb. 18; “Italian All Stars” is on Feb. 25; “Wonder Women of American Cheese” is March 4; and “Aged to Perfection” wraps up the series on March 11. Classes are at 5 pm. Each class is paired with wines and participation is free, though cheeses and wines can be purchased and shipped in advance. For information, visit

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."