The bagel (or
sometimes beigel, in Poland also bajgiel,
bajgel, precel, obwarzanek) is a food
traditionally made of yeasted wheat dough in
the form of a roughly hand-sized ring which
is boiled and then baked. The result is a
dense, chewy, doughy interior with a browned
and sometimes crisp exterior.
It often features seeds, such as poppy or
sesame, baked on the outer crust. Other
flavor varieties include: salt, onion,
garlic, egg, pumpernickel, cinnamon-raisin,
"everything", cheese, caraway, whole wheat,
multigrain, blueberry, muesli and others.
A related bread product is a bialy, which
has no hole, is often onion or
garlic-flavored, and is less crispy on the
outside. A key ingredient is it's
Though often made with sugar, malt syrup or
honey, bagels should never be confused with
New York, Montreal and Quebec City are North
America's bagel capitals.
way to eat a bagel is fresh out of the oven
from a reputable and friend-recommended
Refrigerator Storage: If your bagel is not
eaten while exiting your favorite bagel
shop, let it cool in a paper bag. To keep
bagels 5-7 days, they should be stored in a
carefully closed paper bag, then wrapped
tightly in a plastic bag, and placed in the
Proper Revival Method: To properly revive a
refrigerated bagel to near fresh-baked
status, remove bagel from the fridge, slice
in two and lightly moisten, or 'banetz'
(Yiddish term for 'moisten') surfaces with a
small amount of cold water. Toast or bake
the bagel until hot throughout and slightly
crispy on surfaces. Keep bagels away from
microwave ovens as these machines are not a
proper means of reheating bagels.
Freezing: Bagels can be frozen quite
reliably. Remove air from freezer-bag of
room-temperature bagels, freeze. To thaw,
moisten lightly banetz (see above) with cool
water and bake in toaster-oven or stove.
Once half-baked you may cut open then toast
to perfection. You may freeze bagels pre-cut
to save a step. Bagels that are frozen are
good up to six months.
The bagel's history
originated in Central Europe, probably in
Poland. A 1610 document from Krakow mentions
"beygls" given as a gift to women in
childbirth. This is often cited as the
earliest known reference to the bagel, but
the document is not clear what a "beygl" is;
it may be what is now known as a bagel, it
may be something related to the word for
stirrup "beugal", or something else the
meaning of which is lost to history.
Bagel slicerAn often repeated story says
that the bagel originated in 1683, when a
baker from Vienna created them as a gift to
King Jan Sobieski of Poland to commemorate
the King's victory over the Turks that year.
The baked good was fashioned in the form of
a stirrup to commemorate the victorious
cavalry charge. That the name bagel
originated from "beugal" (stirrup) is
considered plausible by many both from the
similarities of the word and due to the fact
that traditional handmade bagels are not
perfectly circular but rather slightly
stirrup shaped. More prosaically, the name
may simply originate from the Yiddish word "bugel"
or the German word "bugel", meaning a round
loaf of bread (see Gugelhupf for a German
cake with a similar ring shape).
Immigrants in the 1880s brought the bagel to
New York City, where it continues to
flourish. Until the 1920s it was rare in
other parts of the United States other than
a few cities with large Eastern European
Jewish communities. The bagel came into much
more general use throughout North America in
the last quarter of the 20th century.
Specialized devices have even been invented
to allow for easy slicing of bagels without
"squishing" them (a perceived "danger" when
using a knife and hand).
most prominent styles of traditional bagel
in North America are the Montreal bagel and
the New York bagel. The Montreal bagel
contains malt and egg and no salt; it is
boiled in honey-sweetened water before
baking in a wood oven; and it is
predominantly either of the noir/"black
seed" (poppy) or blanc/"white seed" (sesame
seed) variety. The New York bagel contains
salt and malt, is available in a wider
variety of flavors (though Montreal's oldest
bagel institution is quickly catching up),
and is also boiled prior to baking in a
standard oven. The resulting New York bagel
is puffy with a noticeable crust, while the
celebrated Montreal bagel is smaller (though
with a larger hole) chewier, sweeter and
even less like a frozen supermarket-variety
"roll-with-a-hole" than the New York bagel
In addition to the plain bagel, there are
variants with seasoning on the outside,
including sesame, garlic, poppy seed, onion,
rye and the "everything" bagel, a mixture of
all of the above. Other versions which
change the dough recipe include cinnamon,
raisin, pumpernickel, egg and sourdough. In
New York City green bagels made with food
coloring are sometimes created for St.
Patrick's Day. In Montreal, places that sell
"New York-style" bagels rarely become
popular with the local populace.
In the late 20th century, many variations on
the bagel flourished, including those made
with different types of doughs, and with new
non-traditional foods and seasonings added
to the dough. Breakfast bagels, a rather
softer, sweeter variety usually sold in
fruity or sweet flavors (cherry, strawberry,
blueberry, cinnamon-raisin, chocolate chip,
...) are commonly sold by large supermarket
chains; these are usually sold pre-sliced
and are intended to be prepared in a toaster
and often are served with jam (though they
may also be eaten with the more traditional
cream cheese as well, especially fruit-flavoured
cream cheese). More traditionally flavoured
bagels (e.g., plain, or onion) are commonly
used to make sandwiches with egg, cheese,
ham, and other popular breakfast foods.
A recent addition to New York City bagel
stores are "flagels," a flat bagel sprinkled
with usual bagel toppings, favored by low-carb
Bagel chips are a snack food variant on the
The bagel around the world
the bublik has become so mainstream that
most Russians aren't aware that it was
originally a Jewish bread.
The Uighurs of Xinjiang, China enjoy a form
of bagel known as girde nan, which is one of
several types of nan, the bread eaten in
Xinjiang (Allen, March 1996, p. 36-37). It
is uncertain if the Uighur version of the
bagel was developed independently of Europe
or was the actual origin of the bagels that
appeared in Central Europe.
In Turkey, though narrower and larger, simit
is very similar to sesame seed bagels.
sandwich, where a sliced bagel substitutes
for the two slices of bread, has become
common nowadays, although the bagel sandwich
with cream cheese, lox, tomato and onion had
already been a tradition among Jews for some
time. McDonald's created a line of bagel
sandwiches for their breakfast menu, but
have recently scaled back the varieties
available; however, key ingredients are some
form of egg/cheese/meat combination,
sandwiched between the bagel slices.
Another interesting and popular bagel dish
is the pizza bagel. The bagel is sliced,
topped with tomato sauce and cheese and then
toasted or re-baked. It is an ideal toaster
Sliced bagels are often (and best) toasted.
Spreads may include: cream cheese, butter,
peanut butter, jam, marmelade, apple butter,
maple butter and more.