America is a melting pot that was formed by the hard-working people who migrated here from lands as far east as China and Japan, as far north as Russia and Europe. They utilized American supplies and prepared them in ways that they had prepared them in their homeland. True American food is a collection of these culinary traditions passed down from generation to generation”.Each culture brought its cooking methods, food, and spices to America. They farmed the soil, hunted game, and incorporated their ways into the food of America.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the bagel was a staple of Polish cuisine. Its name derives from the Yiddish word beygal from the German dialect word beugel, meaning “ring” or “bracelet”.
Bagels arrived in the United States in the late 19th Century courtesy of Jewish immigrants from Poland. They were sold on New York’s Lower East Side streets, stacked up on poles or hung up from strings (which explains the holes,) making it easy for customers to buy and enjoy them on the street. Whether they’re served plain or schmeared with cream cheese and topped with lox, capers, tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onions, bagels have never strayed far from their humble roots as simple, comforting peasant food. The Yiddish word for a bagel is “beigel” and some say the bagel is a descendant of the German pretzel, a similar yeasted dough bread that is boiled then baked. This process helps bagels stay fresh longer, which for poor Jews, was very important.
Bagels with cream cheese and lox (cured salmon) are considered a traditional part of American Jewish cuisine (colloquially known as “lox and a schmear”).
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. They had contracts with nearly all bagel bakeries in and around the city for its workers, who prepared all their bagels by hand.
Around 1900, the “bagel brunch” became popular in New York CityThe bagel brunch consists of a bagel topped with lox, cream cheese, capers, tomato, and red onion. This and similar combinations of toppings have remained associated with bagels into the 21st century in the US.
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 a firm, dense but spongy bagel shape and chewy texture.
The bagel came into more general use throughout North America in the last quarter of the 20th century with automation. Daniel Thompson started work on the first commercially viable bagel machine in 1958; bagel baker Harry Lender, his son, Murray Lender, and Florence Sender leased this technology and pioneered automated production and distribution of frozen bagels in the 1960s.[Murray also invented pre-slicing the bagel.
Most bagel recipes call for the addition of a sweetener to the dough, often barley malt (syrup or crystals), honey, high fructose corn syrup, or sugar, with or without eggs, milk, or butter. Leavening can be accomplished using a sourdough technique or a commercially produced yeast.
If you do not live near a bagel shop you can make them at home, just as I do. Here is my recipe.
1 tablespoon instant yeast
4 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 tablespoon non-diastatic malt powder, brown sugar, or barley malt syrup
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water, lukewarm
2 quarts (64 ounces) water
2 tablespoons non-diastatic malt powder, brown sugar, or barley malt syrup
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
To make this dough in a mixer, combine all of the dough ingredients and knead vigorously, with the dough hook for 10 minutes. The dough will be quite stiff but hold its shape. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and let it rise until puffy and almost doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Transfer the dough to a work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll it into a smooth, round ball. Cover the balls with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 30 minutes. They’ll puff up just a little.
While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath by heating the water, malt, and sugar to a very gentle boil in a large, wide-diameter pan.
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Place parchment on each of the two baking sheets.
Use your index finger to poke a hole through the center of one ball, then twirl the dough on your finger to stretch the hole until it’s about 2 inches in diameter (the entire bagel will be about 4 inches across). Place the bagel in the simmering water. Repeat the process with two more balls.
Increase the heat under the pan to bring the water back up to a gently simmering boil, if necessary.
Cook the bagels for 2 minutes, flip them over, and cook 1 minute more. Using a skimmer or strainer, remove the bagels from the water and place them on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
Bake the bagels for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re as deep brown, turning them over about 12 minutes into the baking time. Switch the pans on the oven racks.
Remove the bagels from the oven, and cool completely on a wire rack. Yield: 8 bagels.