Companion Baking puts 25 years of experience into every bagel


Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

Growing up in St. Louis in the 1970s and 80s your family probably had a go-to place for freshly baked bagels in St. Louis. For the family of Josh Allen, that go-to was the old New York Bagelry on Olive Street Road.

“Salt nubs, I think was the name for the misshapen bagel pieces. They were my jam,” remembered Allen.

Now, all these years later, Allen, who opened Companion Bakery Co. in 1993, is the one making bagels in St. Louis.

Companion Bakery Bagels

“I believe we started making bagels when Marla Scissors joined our team in 1997 as our pastry chef. We were growing a line of breakfast pastries for area hotels and they needed bagels, too,” said Allen. “Marla took care of the pastry and I started boiling bagels. My grandfather always told me, ‘Shut up and listen to your customers – they’ll tell you how to grow your business.’”

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

Allen listened and learned, perfecting Companion’s bagel baking process over the years. The eatery eventually stopped boiling their bagels and adapted different fermentation techniques to use their European steam-injected ovens.

“A true New York-style bagel is water boiled, meaning they are dropped in boiling water prior to baking to set the crust and give it its distinctive chew. Non-New York-style bagels are baked in a steam-injected oven to mimic the crust development, but also to produce a bagel that has more volume and a less chewy crumb that can be more approachable for bagel sandwiches,” said Allen.

Jodi and Josh Allen of Companion Baking Co.

Companion’s bakers use their steam-injected ovens along with their knowledge of ingredients, formulation and fermentation – to produce bagels that they believe lands in the middle of the bagel-style curve. The result are bagels that are flavorful and chewy, yet adaptable to a great schmear of cream cheese and smoked salmon or egg and cheese.

“We make a good-sized bagel (four-to-five ounces) with a distinctive chewy crust and soft crumb. Their long fermentation gives them the substance to stand up to good long toasting without burning,” said Allen.

Bakers use what is called a sponge, which is a seed of pre-fermented dough to bring flavor, character and leavening to the dough that is generally 24-36 hours old. The dough then gets 4-5 hours of additional fermentation from the mixer to the oven.

“Our bagels are unique in that we blend the traditional New York attitude with our knowledge of long-fermented European breads which creates a hybrid bagel that our customers really enjoy,” said Allen.

Companion offers multiple bagel flavors including plain, sesame, everything, jalapeño cheddar, cinnamon crunch, Asiago and multigrain. In addition to Companion Bakery Co. in Ladue, you can find their bagels for sale at Kaldi’s Coffee locations, Meshuggah Café, City Coffee, Washington University (multiple sites), 6 North Café and Shaw’s Coffee.

More Bagel Week Content