Round bread with a small hole in the middle, no wonder some people confuse bagels with donuts. But, there’s a huge difference between the two. While donuts are a sweet dessert, bagels are much more savory, although it can be served as a dessert.
Bagels are a staple in Jewish bakeries, it was said to be invented around 1610 by a baker from the Jewish Community in Poland, calling it obwarzanek. Around the late 19th century, Jewish immigrants brought bagels with them but it was first considered as an ethnic delicacy and did not gain much popularity until the 1970s.
- Bagels are the only bread-type baked product that needs to be boiled before baked.
- Jewish bakers are very particular about the color of their bagels. It should have a rich, caramel color and not the pale, blond lacquer.
- Bagels should be consumed within four or five hours. Apart from that, some bakers think that it’s no longer a bagel but just bread.
- The hole in the middle of the bagel is for utilitarian rather than aesthetic purposes. It gives the bagel a wider surface area which results in a perfectly cooked bagel
- Brueggers Bagels made the world’s biggest bagels weighing 393.7 kilograms. It was displayed during the New York State Fair on August 27, 2004.
Bagel Buying Guide
You can buy your typical commercially produced Bagels at the grocery stores. But, it’s always better to source your Bagels at your artisanal bakers and local bakeries. Most Bagel enthusiasts would recall a time when it was a challenge to find some Bagels in Texas. Let’s face it, in the older days, Bagels were unappealingly tough and flavorless. Thanks to the food revolution and culinary trends, Bagels were put on the map. Pioneering bakeries that have been transformed into iconic delis and cafes offer the best Bagels in Texas.
Bagel Production & Farming in Texas
Sourcing the freshest ingredients for Bagel production shouldn’t be a problem with Texas’ rich, agricultural landscape. Bagels are usually made with wheat or bread flour, eggs, salt, water, and yeast. Several locally owned, flour-milling facilities in Texas produce high-quality, artisan, multi-use flours from organically grown wheat grains. Other toppings such as cream cheese, butter, and cream are supplied by local, dairy farmers.
Preservatives and Chemicals
Freshly baked Bagels need to be consumed immediately. Thus, mixing preservatives and chemicals are unnecessary. Using high-quality ingredients would spare you from using dough extenders and conditioners to make your Bagel.
However, commercially produced Bagels need dough conditioners and extenders to improve the dough’s texture for a better mouthfeel. Some Bagels also have artificial flavoring and food coloring to enhance their appearance
There are different ways to package bagels. Commercially produced bagels can be packaged in clear, stand-up loaf bags that are vacuum-sealed to protect their freshness. If you are making fresh bagels as a gift, you can package them individually and arrange them in a cake box for easy delivery.
Bagels with fillings or sandwich-type bagels can be packaged in eco-friendly sandwich boxes and paper bags for a craftier and more artisan appearance.
Bagels are usually toasted before eating. Cut the bagels in half and toast them in a lower setting to give them a caramel, brown color, and an extra crispy exterior.
Keep your toppings minimal to maintain the classic, earthy flavor of Bagels. Butter is the simplest bagel topping but you can also use cream cheese, jellies, jams, peanut butter, even marshmallow fluff!
To make your breakfast bagels, top your toasted and buttered bagels with eggs, ham, sausage, bacon, and lots of cheese.
Unlike other baked goods, refrigerating your bagels will make them stale faster. Bagels should be ideally stored inside plastic bags at room temperature. Let the freshly baked bagels cool down to avoid them getting soggy.
Pre-slice and freeze your bagels for up to 3-4 months.
Learn how to make these delicious New York-style Bagels.
NEW YORK STYLE BAGELS
- 2 teaspoons / 6 g active dry yeast
- 4 ½ teaspoons / 19 g granulated sugar
- 1 ¼ cups / 300 ml warm water (you may need ± ¼ cup /60 ml more)
- 3 ½ cups / 440 g bread flour or high gluten flour (you may need up to 1/2 cup / 60g for kneading)
- 1 ½ teaspoons / 6 g salt
- In ½ cup /120ml of the warm water, pour in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. Let it sit for five minutes, and then stir the yeast and sugar mixture until it all dissolves in the water.
- Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.
- Pour 1/3 cup / 80ml of warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water (the scant 1/2 cup / 100ml that is remaining), as needed. Depending on where you live, you may need to add a couple of tablespoons to about ¼ cup/60ml of water. You want a moist and firm dough after you have mixed it.
- On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough.
- Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
- Carefully divide the dough into 8 pieces (I used a scale to be extra precise, but it’s not necessary). Shape each piece into a round. Now, take a dough ball, and press it gently against the countertop (or whatever work surface you’re using) moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms (as pictured). Repeat with 7 other dough rounds.
- Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.
- After shaping the bagels and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425ºF / 220ºC / Gas Mark 7.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. Boil as many as you are comfortable with boiling. Once the bagels are in, it shouldn’t take too long for them to float to the top (a couple seconds). Let them sit there for 1 minute, and then flip them over to boil for another minute. Extend the boiling times to 2 minutes each, if you’d prefer a chewier bagel (results will give you a more New York-Style bagel with this option).
- If you want to add toppings to your bagels, do so as you take them out of the water. Alternatively, you can use an egg wash to get the toppings to stick before baking the bagels. You may want to use the “Optional Toppings” listed above to top the bagels. Use just one topping, or a combination to make your own Bagel Seasoning.
- Once all the bagels have boiled (and have been topped with your choice of toppings), transfer them to an oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown (I usually err on the side of 20 minutes).
- Cool on a wire rack
Caraway seeds, cinnamon sugar, coarse salt, minced fresh garlic, minced fresh onion, poppy seeds, sesame seeds