Bagel is a bread product, traditionally shaped by hand into the form of a ring from yeasted wheat dough, roughly hand-sized, which is first boiled for a short time in water and then baked. The result is a dense, chewy, doughy interior with a browned and sometimes crisp exterior. Bagels are often topped with seeds baked on the outer crust, with the traditional ones being poppy
or sesame seeds
. Some also may have salt sprinkled on their surface, and there are also a number of different dough types such as whole-grain or rye
Bagels are a popular bread product in Canada and the United States, especially in cities with large Jewish populations, many with different ways of making bagels. Like other bakery products, bagels are available (either fresh or frozen, and often in many flavor varieties) in many major supermarkets in those countries.
The basic roll-with-a-hole design is hundreds of years old and has other practical advantages besides providing for a more even cooking and baking of the dough: the hole could be used to thread string or dowels through groups of bagels, allowing for easier handling and transportation and more appealing seller displays.
When making bagels, the cook uses a bagel dough, which typically contains flour
, and a sweetener such as sugar
. Some regional bakers add egg
to their bagels for a more chewy texture, and others add things like cinnamon
, dried fruit
, and other flavorful accents. The dough is mixed, kneaded
, and allowed to rise. Next, the bagels are formed, typically by making small chunks of dough into logs which are joined together. The bagels are allowed to rise slightly before proceeding to the next step.
After the bagels have risen, they are slipped into boiling water for approximately six minutes before being removed and baked. If the cook wishes to add a topping such as nuts
, seeds, or onion
, the tops of the bagels are brushed
with egg and the topping is sprinkled on top before baking. After baking, the bagels are allowed to fully cool on racks
and then packaged or eaten.
Once a cook has gotten the basics down, making bagels in an assortment of flavors is relatively easy. Some cooks use different flours, such as whole wheat, to make their bagels, while others play with an assortment of toppings and additions to their bagels. Bagels are typically sold fresh the day that they are made, and should be quickly eaten or frozen. If a bagel is slightly stale, it can be sprinkled with water and toasted to be refreshed.
There are also a number of choices for things to eat with bagels. Common inclusions are cream cheese
, hummus, butter
, lox, tomatoes
, and avocado
, though generally not all at once. Bagels are typically sliced
in half and toasted
for eating, and an assortment of toppings and spreads can be piled on both sides of the bagel, or just on one half, so that the top can be put back on to make a bagel sandwich.