Bagel

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Image:Bagel.jpg
A plain bagel

The bagel (or sometimes beigel; Yiddish בײגל beygl) is a bread product traditionally made of yeasted wheat dough in the form of a roughly hand-sized ring which is boiled in water and then baked. The result is a dense, chewy, doughy interior with a browned and sometimes crisp exterior.

The dough may also be flavored to produce many traditional varieties: salt, onion, garlic, egg, pumpernickel, rye. There are also many nontraditional modern varieties: tomato dill, cajun, bran, sourdough, whole wheat, multigrain, cinnamon-raisin, cheese, caraway, blueberry, and muesli among others. Bagels may be topped with seeds such as poppy or sesame, which are baked onto the outer crust.

A related bread product is a bialy, which has no hole, is often onion or garlic-flavored, and is less crispy on the outside.

Though often made with sugar, malt syrup, or honey, bagels should not be confused with doughnuts (donuts).

Contents

[edit] History

Image:Sbitenshchik and Khodebshchik.jpg
A sbitenshchik (left) selling bubliks and baranki (19th century)

The bagel originated in Central Europe, probably in Poland. A 1610 document from Kraków 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 it may refer to something else whose meaning is lost.

An oft-repeated story states that the bagel originated in 1683 in Vienna, Austria, when a local Jewish baker created them as a gift for King Jan III 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 (or horseshoe, tales vary) 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. (This fact, however, may be due to the way the boiled bagels are pressed together on the baking sheet before baking.) More prosaically, the name bagel may simply originate from the Yiddish and German word bügel, meaning “bale” or bow, sometimes used to refer to a round loaf of bread (see Gugelhupf for an Austrian cake with a similar ring shape).

Ashkenazi immigrants in the 1880s brought the bagel to the Lower East Side New York City, where it continues to flourish as a local cuisine popular not only with one ethnic group but as an icon of the city. The same phenomenon has happened to the Montreal bagel (see Montreal-style_bagel). Until the 1920s, bagels were rare in other parts of the United States other than a few cities with large Eastern European Jewish populations. The bagel came into more general use throughout North America in the last quarter of the 20th century. Today, bagels are enjoyed all over the world, and have become one of the most popular breakfast foods.

[edit] Preparation

Bagels are made by first mixing the dough, then chilling it overnight before boiling it in water and subsequently baking it. It is this unusual production method which is said to give bagels their distinctive taste. As an originally Jewish food, it provided an additional advantage, as it could be made without breaking the no-work rule of the Sabbath: The dough would be prepared on the day before, chilled during the day, and cooked and baked only after the end of the Sabbath, therefore using the Sabbath as a productive time in the bagel-making process (as the dough needs to rest chilled for a time before cooking).

[edit] Bagel types

The two most prominent styles of traditional bagel in North America are the Montreal bagel and the New York-style bagel. The Montreal bagel contains malt and egg but no salt; it is boiled in honey-sweetened water before baking in a wood oven; and it is predominantly either of the “black seed” (poppy) or “white seed” (sesame) variety. The New York bagel contains salt and malt and is also boiled prior to baking in a standard oven. The resulting New York bagel is puffy with a noticeable crust, while the Montreal bagel is smaller (though with a larger hole), chewier, and sweeter.

In addition to the plain bagel, variants feature seasoning on the outside, including sesame, garlic, poppy seed, onion, caraway, and salt. The “everything” bagel is a mixture of all of the above. Other versions which change the dough recipe include cinnamon, raisin, blueberry, pumpernickel, egg, and sourdough. Green bagels are sometimes created for St. Patrick's Day. Many chains now offer bagels in flavors such as chocolate chip, French toast, asiago cheese, olive, and bacon.

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 softer, sweeter variety usually sold in fruity or sweet flavors (e.g., cherry, strawberry, cheese, 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. A flat bagel, known as a "flagel," can be found in a few locations in and around New York City. A sweet variant of the bagel known as the “fragel” is found in Michigan; bagel dough is fried and coated with some RJ. Square bagels, or squagels, are becoming a popular alternative to round bagels in crafting bagel sandwiches.

[edit] Bagel sandwiches

Today bagel sandwiches are quite common—a sliced bagel substitutes for the two slices of bread. Traditionally, bagel sandwiches filled with cream cheese, lox, tomato, and onion have been a popular meal among Jewish people for some time. (See also: appetizing.)

As a breakfast sandwich, plain or onion-flavored bagels are filled with eggs, cheese, ham, and other fillings. McDonald's created a line of bagel sandwiches for its breakfast menu, but the chain has since scaled back the varieties available; key ingredients are some form of egg, cheese, and 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.

Sliced bagels are often toasted. Spreads might include cream cheese (which may be flavored), butter (which may also be flavored with ingredients such as maple syrup or honey), peanut butter, jam, apple butter, hummus, vegemite, or other foods.

[edit] Keeping bagels fresh

Bagels taste best fresh out of the oven. In order to preserve the freshness and taste of the bagel for consumption within the next five to seven days, allow them to cool in a paper bag and then store them in a freezer in a closed paper bag which is wrapped tightly inside a larger, plastic bag. Some people omit the paper bag and just freeze their bagels in a plastic bag. To thaw, moisten lightly with cool water and toast or bake. Bagels freeze well for up to six months.

To revive a refrigerated bagel to near fresh-baked status, slice the bagel in half and lightly moisten the surfaces with a small amount of cold water. Toast or bake the bagel until it is hot throughout and slightly crispy on the surfaces. Reheating in a microwave oven will not produce the same result as a regular oven or toaster as microwaves tend to make bread soft and mushy.

[edit] Bagels around the world

In Russia Belarus and Ukraine, the bublik kind of pastry resembles bagels. Other ring-shaped pastries known among East Slavs are baranki (smaller and drier) and sushki (even smaller and drier).

In Lithuania bagels are called riestainiai and sometimes the Slavic name baronkos.

The Uyghurs 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.<ref>(Allen, March 1996, p. 36–37)</ref> It is uncertain if the Uyghur version of the bagel was developed independently of Europe or was the actual origin of the bagels that appeared in Central Europe.

In Turkey, a salty and fattier form is called açma. The ring-shaped simit is sometimes marketed as a "Turkish Bagel."

In some parts of Austria, ring-shaped pastries called Beugel are sold in the weeks before Easter. Like a bagel, the yeasted wheat dough, usually flavored with caraway, is boiled before baking, however, the Beugel is crispy and can be stored for weeks. Traditionally it has to be torn apart by two individuals before eating.

[edit] References

  • [1] Allen, Thomas B. (March 1996). Xinjiang. National Geographic Magazine, p. 36–37.
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[edit] External links


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