Let me say, bagels have an interesting history. Believe it or not, these delicious, doughnut-like rolls didn’t come from America, but Poland. The first record of them dates back to 1610. You might think bagels are an American thing, mainly because they’re a staple in American series.
Let’s be real, who can forget scenes of Harvey Spector from „The Suits” munching on a bagel during his lunch break, or Carrie Bradshaw from „Sex and The City” sharing a bagel moment with Miranda?
I can tell you that bagels are so popular in America that they even make news sometimes. For instance, remember when Cynthia Nixon, who played Miranda in „Sex and The City”, stirred a controversy for her choice of bagel toppings? This incident, which even got its own name, „bagelgate”, took the world by storm.
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The Origins of Bagels
But here’s the fun part. Where do you think bagels originate from? If you said America, you’d be wrong. I am convinced that bagels were birthed in Krakow, Poland. The very first mention of these tasty rolls dates back to a 1610 document.
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They were traditionally given to women, primarily from the Jewish community, after childbirth, and other important events.
Just like the round challah offered during the festival of Rosh Hashanah, bagels were a symbol of long and happy life. Let me tell you, the name isn’t just random either. It stems from the Yiddish word 'beygal’, which originates from the German word 'beugel’, translating to 'bracelet’ or 'ring’. Clearly, the name perfectly aligns with the shape of this delicious bun!
Bagels Beyond Poland
The term 'beigel’ is still in use in London. Londoners consider this pronunciation correct. If you want a taste of traditional bagels, „Beigel Bake” on Brick Lane is worth visiting. This place is famous for being one of the best traditional bagel bakeries.
Back in the second half of the 19th century, the Spitafields area was home to a large Jewish community who later moved north. Now, the only remnants of their presence are two bagel bakeries, including the aforementioned „Beigel Bake”.
This spot is so popular that it’s always crowded, and they’re open 24/7. You might even catch a glimpse of it in episode 3 of Bronson’s Action „F***, That’s Delicious”. Now, isn’t that something to check out?
Bagels Meet New York
So, how did bagels make it to New York? Well, as I mentioned earlier, the Jewish community had a big role in this. Early in the 20th century, a large number of Jewish folks moved to New York.
I think it’s worth saying that they brought their love for bagels with them, which resulted in around 300 small businesses making bagels. This led to the creation of the „Bagel Bakers Local 338”, a trade union that protected bakers until machines took over in the 1960s.
The shift to machine-made bagels made a huge difference. Bagel prices dropped dramatically, and these tasty rounds went mainstream. You can find them just about anywhere in New York now. Being there, you need to know where to find the best ones.
I recommend trying Russ & Daughters, a place that’s been arotund since 1914 and is famous for its traditional Jewish food. You can get the iconic bagels with salmon and herring there.
Another hotspot is Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side. They offer a selection of various flavored cottage cheeses with fish or cold cuts. Finally, check out Black Seed in Nolita (Lower Manhattan). They often collaborate with New York chefs to create some truly interesting flavor combos.
Making Obwarzanki – Bagels at Home
If you want to try making bagels at home, let me help you with a simple recipe:
- 3 and ½ cups of wheat flour
- 1 glass of warm water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 and ½ teaspoons salt
- Optional toppings: poppy seeds, sesame, black cumin
Here’s what you do:
- Mix the water with honey, yeast, and salt, then add to the flour.
- Mix the ingredients (a spoon works best) and knead the dough for a few minutes until it’s smooth and elastic.
- Let it rest for 10 minutes under a cloth, then knead again for a few more minutes.
- Put the dough in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave it at room temperature for an hour to rise.
- After that, knead the dough again and form a ball. Put the dough back in the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, but this time put it in the refrigerator overnight.
Bagel Baking Process
Alright, let’s continue the process! The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and knead it for a few minutes. Then, divide it into 8 pieces and form balls. Poke a hole in each one and stretch the dough to make the hole about 3 cm wide.
Leave the dough on baking paper for an hour and a half to let it rise.
The next step is to boil your bagels. First, boil some water, add honey and salt. Drop a few bagels in and let them cook for a minute on each side.
Then, put them on a baking sheet lined with paper and sprinkle them with your choice of toppings.
Bake your bagels in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 20-25 minutes until they turn golden. Enjoy them immediately if you can, but if they harden, slice them in half and toss them in the toaster.
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Bagel Filling Ideas
Now, let me tell you about some awesome ways to fill your bagels.
Bagel with Horseradish Cheese and Salmon
- Ingredients: Philadelphia cheese, a tablespoon of horseradish, sliced smoked salmon, lemon juice, and optional capers or fresh cucumber slices. Add horseradish to the Philadelphia cheese. Spread this mix on both sides of your bagel, add a slice of smoked salmon, and drizzle with lemon. You can also add capers or cucumber slices for an extra kick!
Bagel With Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Pesto
- Ingredients: tomato, mozzarella, basil pesto (you can make this with basil, olive oil, a garlic clove, and two handfuls of sunflower seeds). Spread your bagel with the basil pesto, then add tomato slices and mozzarella. It’s a simple but delicious combo!
Bagel with Avocado, Egg and Coriander
- Ingredients: one avocado, two hard-boiled eggs, a bunch of coriander, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Mash the avocado, then mix in the diced hard-boiled eggs. Add chopped coriander, salt, pepper, and a driztzle of lemon. Use this mix to fill your bagel. It’s a tasty, protein-packed choice!
I’m convinced these bagel fillings will take your homemade bagels to the next level. Give them a try and let me know what you think!