A plain commercially produced bagel (as evidenced by grate marks used in steaming, rather than boiling)
Bagels with cream cheese and lox (cured salmon) are considered a traditional part of American Jewish cuisine (colloquially known as lox and a schmear).

A bagel (also spelled beigel)[1] 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.[2] 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.[2]

Bagels have become a popular bread product in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, especially in cities with large Jewish populations,[3] many with different ways of making bagels. Like other bakery products, bagels are available (either fresh or frozen, and often in many flavour 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.[4][5]



A sbitenshchik (left) selling bubliks and baranki (19th century)

Contrary to common legend, the bagel was not created in the shape of a stirrup to commemorate the victory of Poland's King Jan III Sobieski over the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Vienna in 1683. It was actually invented much earlier in Kraków, Poland, as a competitor to the bublik, a lean bread of wheat flour designed for Lent. Leo Rosten wrote in "The Joys of Yiddish" that the first mentioned the word bajgiel in the "Community Regulations" the city of Kraków in 1610, which stated that the item was given as a gift to women in childbirth[6]. In the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, the bajgiel became a staple of the Polish national diet.[7]

That the name originated from beugal (old spelling of Bügel, meaning bail/bow or bale) is considered plausible by many[who?], both from the similarities of the word and because traditional handmade bagels are not perfectly circular but rather slightly stirrup-shaped. (This, however, may be due to the way the boiled bagels are pressed together on the baking sheet before baking.) Also, variants of the word beugal are used in Yiddish and Austrian German to refer to a somewhat similar form of sweet filled pastry (Mohnbeugel (with poppy seeds) and Nussbeugel (with ground nuts)), or in southern German dialects (where beuge refers to a pile, e.g., holzbeuge, or woodpile). According to the Merriam-Webster's dictionary, 'bagel' derives from the transliteration of the Yiddish 'beygl', which came from the Middle High German 'böugel' or ring, which itself came from 'bouc' (ring) in Old High German, similar to the Old English 'bēag' '(ring), and 'būgan' (to bend or bow).[8] Similarly another etymology in the Webster's New World College Dictionary says that the Middle High German form was derived from the Austrian German 'beugel', a kind of croissant, and was similar to the German 'bügel', a stirrup or ring.[9]

In the Brick Lane district and surrounding area of London, England, bagels, or as locally spelled "beigels" have been sold since the middle of the 19th century. They were often displayed in the windows of bakeries on vertical wooden dowels, up to a metre in length, on racks.

Bagels were brought to the United States by immigrant Polish-Jews, with a thriving business developing in New York City that was controlled for decades by Bagel Bakers Local 338, which had contracts with nearly all bagel bakeries in and around the city for its workers, who prepared all the bagels by hand. The bagel came into more general use throughout North America in the last quarter of the 20th century, at least partly due to the efforts of bagel baker Harry Lender and Florence Sender, who pioneered automated production and distribution of frozen bagels in the 1960s.[10]

In modern times, Canadian-born astronaut Gregory Chamitoff is the first person known to have taken a batch of bagels into space on his 2008 Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station.[11] His shipment consisted of 18 sesame seed bagels.[12][13]

Three Montreal-style bagels: one poppy and two sesame bagels


At its most basic, traditional bagel dough contains wheat flour (without germ or bran), salt, water, and yeast leavening. Bread flour or other high gluten flours are preferred to create the firm and dense but spongy bagel shape and chewy texture.[2] Most bagel recipes call for the addition of a sweetener to the dough, often barley malt (syrup or crystals), honey, sugar, with or without eggs, milk or butter.[2] Leavening can be accomplished using either a sourdough technique or using commercially produced yeast.

Bagels are traditionally made by:

  • mixing and kneading the ingredients to form the dough
  • shaping the dough into the traditional bagel shape, round with a hole in the middle, from a long thin piece of dough
  • proofing the bagels for at least 12 hours at low temperature (40–50 °F = 4.5–10 °C)
  • boiling each bagel in water that may or may not contain additives such as lye, baking soda, barley malt syrup, or honey
  • baking at between 175 °C and 315 °C (about 350–600 °F)

It is this unusual production method which is said to give bagels their distinctive taste, chewy texture, and shiny appearance. In the context of Jewish culture, this process provided an additional advantage in that it could be followed without breaking the no-work rule of the Sabbath. The dough would be prepared on the day before, chilled during the day, and boiled 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 slowly rise in a chilled environment for a time before cooking).[citation needed]

In recent years, a variant of this process has emerged, producing what is sometimes called the steam bagel. To make a steam bagel, the process of boiling is skipped, and the bagels are instead baked in an oven equipped with a steam injection system.[14] In commercial bagel production, the steam bagel process requires less labor, since bagels need only be directly handled once, at the shaping stage. Thereafter, the bagels need never be removed from their pans as they are refrigerated and then steam-baked. The steam-bagel is not considered to be a genuine bagel by purists, as it results in a fluffier, softer, less chewy product more akin to a finger roll that happens to be shaped like a bagel. Steam bagels are also considered lower quality by purists as the dough used is intentionally more basic. The increase in pH is to aid browning since the steam injection process uses neutral water steam instead of a basic solution bath.


Saturday morning bagel queue at St-Viateur Bagel, Montreal, Quebec (Courtesy: M. Rehemtulla)

The two most prominent styles of traditional bagel in North America are the Montreal-style bagel and the New York-style bagel. The Montreal bagel contains malt and sugar with no salt; it is boiled in honey-sweetened water before baking in a wood-fired oven; and it is predominantly either of the poppy "black" or sesame "white" seeds variety. The New York bagel contains salt and malt and is boiled in water prior to baking in a standard oven. The resulting New York bagel is puffy with a moist crust, while the Montreal bagel is smaller (though with a larger hole), crunchier, and sweeter.[15]

Poppy seeds are sometimes called by their Yiddish name, spelled either mun or mon (written מאָן) which is very similar to the German word for poppy, Mohn, as used in Mohnbrötchen. The traditional London bagel (or beigel as it is spelled) is harder and has a coarser texture with air bubbles.

Bagels around the world

"Vesirinkeli" from Finland.

Russian bubliks are very similar to bagels, but are somewhat bigger, have a wider hole, and are drier and chewier. Pretzels, especially the large soft ones, are also similar to bagels, the main exceptions being the shape and the alkaline water bath that makes the surface dark and glossy.

In Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, the bublik is essentially a much larger bagel. Other ring-shaped breads known among East Slavs are baranki (smaller and drier) and sushki (even smaller and drier).

In Lithuania, bagels are called riestainiai, and sometimes by their Slavic name baronkos.

In Finland, vesirinkeli are small rings of yeast-leavened wheat bread. They are placed in salted boiling water before being baked. They are often eaten for breakfast toasted and buttered. They are available in several different varieties (sweet or savoury) in supermarkets.

The Uyghurs of Xinjiang, China, enjoy a form of bagel known as girdeh nan (from Persian, meaning round bread), which is one of several types of nan, the bread eaten in Xinjiang.[16] 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, and is very similar to the twisted sesame-sprinkled bagels pictured being sold in early 20th century Poland. Simit are also sold on the street in baskets or carts, like bagels were then.

A “girdeh” (the hole does not go all the way through) from a Muslim restaurant in Guangzhou, China

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.[citation needed]

The pronunciation and spelling of bagel varies among communities. In Canada, for instance, people from Toronto and Montreal, pronounce it like bay-gel, (the Yiddish pronunciation) -whereas people from the smaller towns of Northern Ontario and the east coast of Canada tend to pronounce the first syllable as bag-el, as in 'shopping bag'. In addition, some bagel makers in the U.S. (particularly New England producer Zeppy's) spell the word "baigel", while maintaining the typical pronunciation.

In the UK, bagels are popular in London, Brighton, Leeds, Belfast, and Manchester. On Brick Lane in east London, there are two long-established bagel shops in which the item is spelled beigel, with pronunciation (bygl) to match. Bagels are sold by many food store chains as Tesco, Morisson and others.

In Romania, bagels are popular topped with poppy, sesame seeds or large salt grains, especially in the central area of the country, and the recipe does not contain any added sweetener. They are named covrigi.

"Bagel" is also a Yeshivish term for sleeping 12 hours straight, e.g., "I slept a bagel last night." There are various opinions as to the origins of this term. It may be a reference to the fact that bagel dough has to "rest" for at least 12 hours between mixing and baking,[17] or simply to the fact that the hour hand on a clock traces a bagel shape over the course of twelve hours.

In Japan, the first kosher bagels were brought by BagelK (ベーグルK) from New York in 1989. BagelK created green tea, chocolate, maple-nuts, and banana-nuts flavors for the market in Japan. There are three million bagels exported from the U.S. annually, and it has a 4%-of-duty classification in Japan. Some Japanese bagels are sweet; the orthodox kosher bagels are the same as in the U.S.

Non-traditional doughs and types

While normally and traditionally made of yeasted wheat, in the late 20th century many variations on the bagel flourished. Nontraditional versions which change the dough recipe include pumpernickel, rye, sourdough, bran, whole wheat, and multigrain. Other variations change the flavor of the dough, often using blueberry, salt, onion, garlic, egg, cinnamon, raisin, chocolate chip, cheese, or some combination of the above. Green bagels are sometimes created for St. Patrick's Day.

Many corporate chains now offer bagels in such flavors as chocolate chip and French toast. Sandwich bagels have been popularized since the late 1990s by bagel specialty shops such as Bruegger's and Einstein Brothers, and fast food restaurants such as McDonald's. Breakfast bagels, a softer, sweeter variety usually sold in fruity or sweet flavors (e.g., cherry, strawberry, cheese, blueberry, cinnamon-raisin, chocolate chip, maple syrup, banana and nuts) are commonly sold by large supermarket chains. These are usually sold 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 and Toronto. According to a review attributed to New York's Village Voice food critic Robert Seitsema, the Flagel was first created by Brooklyn's Tasty Bagels deli in the early 1990s.[18]

Though the original bagel has a fairly well defined recipe and method of production, there is no legal standard of identity for bagels in the United States. Bakers are thus free to call any bread torus a bagel, even those that deviate wildly from the original formulation.

In popular culture

  • The Dinner Party is a song by composer and musician Steven Lutvak in which he humorously describes his family's long and storied background with making bagels for Russian Czars.[22]

Large scale commercial sales

United States supermarket sales

According to the American Institute of Baking (AIB), Year 2008 supermarket sales (52 week period ending January 27, 2009) of the top eight leading commercial fresh (not frozen) bagel brands in the United States:

  • totalled to US$430,185,378 based on 142,669,901 package unit sales.[23]
  • the top eight leading brand names for the above were (by order of sales): Thomas' (Bimbo USA), Sara Lee, (private label brands) Pepperidge Farm, Thomas Mini Squares (Bimbo), Lender's Bagels (Pinnacle Foods), Weight Watchers and The Alternative Bagel (Western Bagel).[23]

Further, AIB-provided statistics for the 52 week period ending May 18, 2008, for refrigerated/frozen supermarket bagel sales for the top 10 brand names totalled US$50,737,860, based on 36,719,977 unit package sales.[24]

See also



  1. ^ Definition: Beigel, retrieved from website July 11, 2011
  2. ^ a b c d Encyclopædia Britannica (2009) Bagel, retrieved February 24, 2009 from Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  3. ^ (2001). "World Jewish Population, Analysis by City". Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  4. ^ Nathan, Joan (2008) A Short History of the Bagel: From ancient Egypt to Lender's Slate, posted Nov. 12, 2008
  5. ^ Columbia University NYC24 New Media Workshop website History of the Bagel: The Hole Story, retrieved 2009-02-24
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Altschuler, Glenn C. (2008) Three Centuries of Bagels, a book review of: 'The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread', by Balinska, Maria, Yale University Press, 2008, Jewish Daily Press website, published on-line November 05, 2008 in the issue of November 14, 2008
  8. ^ Merriam-Webster's Dictionary definition of 'bagel', Merriam-Webster Inc. online, 2009, retrieved 2009-04-24;
  9. ^ Webster's New World College Dictionary definition of 'bagel', Wiley Publishing Inc., Cleveland, 2005, retrieved 2009-04-24;
  10. ^ Klagsburn, Francine. "Chewing Over The Bagel’s Story", The Jewish Week, July 8, 2009. Accessed July 15, 2009.
  11. ^ Space Shuttle mission STS-124; International Space Station Expedition 17.
  12. ^ Montreal-born astronaut brings bagels into space Sun. Jun. 1 2008 7:29 PM ET; CTV National News - 1 June 2008 - 11pm TV newscast;
  13. ^ The Gazette (Montreal), Here's proof: Montreal bagels are out of this world, Block, Irwin, Tuesday June 3, 2008, Section A, Page A2;
  14. ^ Reinhart, P., The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Ten Speed Press, 2001, p. 115.
  15. ^ Horowitz, Ruth (October 17, 2006). "The Hole Truth: Vermont's Bagel Bakers Answer The Roll Call". Seven Days. Retrieved June 09, 2011. 
  16. ^ Allen, Thomas B. (March 1996). Xinjiang. National Geographic Magazine, p. 36–37
  17. ^ Balinska 2008. pp.4–5.
  18. ^ Browne, Alaina Flagel = Flat Bagel (review), retrieved 2009-04-24 from website;
  19. ^ Balinska, Maria (2008). "6". The Bagel: The Surprising History Of A Modest Bread (1st ed.). New Haven and London: Yale University Press. pp. 125–126. ISBN 978-0-300-11229-0. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  20. ^ Bagels & Yox, IBDB Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-10-05
  21. ^ Atkinson, Brooks The Theatre: Bagels & Yox (review), The New York Times, September 13, 1951, pg.38 (.PDF format). Retrieved 2009-10-05
  22. ^ Holden, Stephen. "From Steven Lutvak at the Duplex, True Stories in Witty Songs ", The New York Times, April 5, 2006, accessed February 24, 2011.
  23. ^ a b Baking Management (2008) AIB website data: Bagels 2008, from Baking Management, p.10, March 2009, Statistics from Information Resources, retrieved 2009-03-23 from American Institute of Baking website: Bagels 2008 updated to March 10, 2009;
  24. ^ Baking Management (2008) AIB website data: Bagels 2008, from Redbook, July 2008, p.20, Statistics from Information Resources, retrieved 2009-03-23 from American Institute of Baking website: Bagels 2008 updated to March 10, 2009


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bagel — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Un bagel. El bagel (o a veces también beigel; en Yiddish בײגל beygl) es un pan elaborado tradicionalmente de harina de trigo y que suele tener un agujero en el centro. Antes de ser horneado se cocina en agua… …   Wikipedia Español

  • bagel — ● bagel nom masculin (mot anglais) Au Canada, petit pain d origine juive, en forme d anneau. bagel n. m. (Québec) Petit pain en forme d anneau, à la mie très ferme …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • bagel — a gel (b[=a] g l), n. [Yiddish beygl, prob. fr. dial. G. Beugel. RHUD] a glazed leavened doughnut shaped roll with a hard crust. Note: A similar roll in Russia is called a bublik. [WordNet 1.5 +PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bagel — 1919, from Yiddish beygl, from M.H.G. boug ring, bracelet, from O.H.G. boug a ring, related to O.E. beag ring (in poetry, an Anglo Saxon lord was beaggifa ring giver ), from P.Gmc. *baugaz , from PIE root *bheug (3) to bend, with derivatives… …   Etymology dictionary

  • bagel — ► NOUN ▪ a dense, ring shaped bread roll that is simmered before baking. ORIGIN Yiddish …   English terms dictionary

  • bagel — [bā′gəl] n. [NE Yiddish beygl < MHG * bougel > Austrian Ger beugel, kind of croissant; akin to Ger bügel, stirrup, orig. ring < beugen, to bend: for IE base see BOW1] a chewy bread roll made of yeast dough twisted into a small… …   English World dictionary

  • Bagel — Plain Bagel, New York Style Ein Bagel, manchmal auch Beigel (von englisch bagel oder beigel [ˈbeɪgəl] und jiddisch בײגל bejgl oder bajgl, YIVO Orthografie beygl, in Österreich auch Beugel) ist ein handtellergroßes rundes Gebäck aus Hefeteig… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bagel — Un bagel Le bagel, baguel[1] ou beguel (du yiddish בײגל beygl ) est un rouleau en forme d anneau, à la texture très ferme, fait d une pâte au levain naturel, cuit brièvement dans l eau avant d être passé au four. Ces petits pains d une dizaine de …   Wikipédia en Français

  • bagel — /bay geuhl/, n. a leavened, doughnut shaped, firm textured roll, with a brownish glazed surface, made of dough first poached and then baked. [1930 35; < Yiddish beygl; cf. dial. G Beugel < Gmc *baug ring (see BEE2) + * il n. suffix] * * * ▪ food… …   Universalium

  • bagel — UK [ˈbeɪɡ(ə)l] / US noun [countable] Word forms bagel : singular bagel plural bagels a type of bread that is small and round with a hole in the middle …   English dictionary