Thursday, July 7, 2011

Flagels, Bagels, and Bublics - The History of the Bagel

The files are alphabetized. the dealer kits are mailed, the labels are placed - I have nothing to do. And as I sit here, spinning in circles in my chair, bored to death on my lunch break, I think about the more important things in life. The meaning of our existence... the key to personal success... the definition of true love... the history of the bagel. Yes, the bagel. Who created such an oddly shaped bread, and why do millions of people from across the globe eat it for lunch, breakfast, and dinner?

Well, for starters, the bagel has an unusual shape being that there is a hole that goes straight through the dough. But other than being aesthetically pleasing and allowing for fun displays, the hole serves a purpose in that the entirety of the dough can be backed evenly.

The bagel was created in Polland in the 16th century to compete with the bublik, a lean wheat flour bread that is bigger with a larger hole than the bagel. The bagels that we know today were brought to the United States by Polish-Jews mainly on the East Coast, and especially New York City. In the last quarter of the 20th centuries bagels became more wide-spread in America partly because of bagel bakers Harry Lender and Florence Sender who created automated production and distribution of frozen bagels during the 60s.

According to the American Institute of Baking (AIB, of the top eight leading commercial fresh bagel brands in the US, their annual profits totalled up to US $430,185,378 in 2008. That's a lot of bagels! 

There are many different ways to eat a bagel. You can roll it in sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cheese, egg, onion, salt, or even garlic. You can change the dough to include chocolate chips, blueberries, salt, raisins, cinnamon, sugar... You can even die them green for St. Patrick's Day, or change the ingredients all together. Canadian bagels are generally boiled in honey water, they also contain more sugar and no salt. That's why they are crunchier and sweeter.

If you want, you can even have a breakfast bagel or sandwich. A Flagel, or flat bagel, can be found in New York City or Toronto.

Bagel Recipe:
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar


  1. In large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour and yeast. Mix water, 3 tablespoons sugar and salt together, and add to the dry ingredients. Beat with a mixer for half a minute at a low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl clean. Beat at a higher speed for 3 minutes. Then, by hand, mix in enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough.
  2. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). Cover, let rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Cut into 12 portions, shape into smooth balls. Poke a hole in the center with your finger, and gently enlarge the hole while working the bagel into a uniform shape. Cover, let rise 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, start a gallon of water boiling. Put 1 tablespoon of sugar in it, mix it around a bit. Reduce to simmering.
  5. When the bagels are ready, put 4 or 5 bagels into the water, and cook 7 minutes, turning once. Drain them. Place on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven, eat hot or cold.
  6. Broiling option: For a glossier surface, place raised bagels on an ungreased baking sheet prior to boiling them. Broil them five inches from heat for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes on each side. Then put them into the hot water to be boiled as above. Note: do not bake broiled bagels as long as non-broiled ones, 25 minutes should be long enough.
 The possibilities of what to do with your bagel are endless!

My family goes to this lovely bagel place near our down town, we've been going there for thirteen years and over the years it's gotten super popular. When I was younger I used to love their egg bagels. They I went through a stage where I wanted tuna fish and cream cheese (it's actually quite good), the women who works there always remembered my strange order. Now I get salt with cream cheese warmed, she still knows what I get. She's so sweet!
What do you do with that round, holy, piece of bread?

Sources: Wikipedia, Allrecipes 


  1. I only recently tried a bagel for the first time and it was lovely! It was a gorgeous bacon bagel. Mmm....

  2. Ohmygosh! That's so strange to me! Growing up in a Jewish family on the east coast, and then the west coast, I've been eating bagels since I could chew.

    Do they not have many in Northern Ireland?

  3. Awwww, I love this!! I really learned something that I honestly did not know. And YUM! I love bagels...with cream cheese!!

  4. I'm so glad that you learned something new! I'm making myself hungry, and I just had a bagel with cream cheese for lunch!

  5. Oh they do! It's just I'm a picky eater and was scared to try one! I know, I'm weird lol