Who has never heard of this palm-sized, ring-shaped bread made of yeasted wheat dough? Not many will raise their hands. In the late 19th century, bagels left their original home in Eastern Europe to go on a culinary journey around the world. The first documented mention of the delicious bakery product date can be found in Jewish community ordinances in Cracow from the year 1610. The Polish city is therefore often called the birthplace of the bagel.
The bagel’s typical shape speaks for itself and makes it unmistakable. Still, most people don’t know how else to describe it other than “round with hole”. That needs to change. Here are a few interesting and fun facts about this popular bread.
Baking is not enough
The bagel is the only type of bread that is boiled before it is baked. Once the dough has been shaped into its circular form, the bagels are placed in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Then they are baked for about 10 minutes.
With rhyme and reason
The little hole in the middle of the bagel not only gives it its unmistakable shape but also has a specific purpose. According to legend, the hole was used to thread several bagels onto a rope for easier transport and handling. Street vendors benefited especially from the shape, which has remained to this day.
Less is more
It’s hard to believe, but despite the enormous varieties of bagels out there – from blueberry to cinnamon raisin – the plain bagel remains the most popular, followed by the sesame bagel.
No two bagels are created alike
As there is no legally prescribed standard regarding preparation and appearance, theoretically almost any round bakery product can be called a bagel.
Teamwork is needed
The traditional way of making bagels is a job for four. Because of the unique, multi-step process, bagel bakeries employed two people to roll and shape the dough, one more to boil the bagels and another to handle the baking.