What is a bagel?
Bagels - Introduction
Source: The Best Bagels are made at home by Dona Z. Meilach - Order
A bagel is traditionally a hefty, dense ring of somewhat bland tasting bread. But with
different flours, such as rye and wheat, bagels take on different tastes. Add raisins,
blueberries, strawberries, dates and nuts for a dessert-like bagel. Add veggies, onions,
poppy seeds, peanut butter and other ingredients for an infinite variety of taste
The popularity of bagels is as much attributed to what you can put on them and in them as
to what you add to the unbaked dough. They are the perfect vehicles for spreads. Most
often spreads consist of a cream cheese base that may be mixed with salmon or lox, fruits,
vegetables and spices -- in myriad combinations. There are regional differences in how
bagels are made, and ongoing arguments about what constitutes the "perfect"
bagel and best spread combination.
The traditional bagel sandwich consists of cream cheese, lox, a slice of onion and a slice
of tomato. But that's only the beginning. Bagel sandwiches are so popular that bagel
bakeries often list 40 or 50 sandwich variations on their menus. then there are mini
bagels and bialys. For catered bagel brunches, there are 3- to 6- pound bagels that are
filled and then cut into pie shaped wedges.
Bagels have a lot going for them. They don't crush or smash while being carried; they
don't melt from the heat or suffer from freezing. They're at their optimum goodness when
fresh and hot from out of the oven, but they're delicious, too, even when frozen, thawed
and toasted. If they get stale, they can be made into bagel chips or ground into bread
crumbs. They're an all-around convenient, no-waste food product that is well suited to
today's health conscious consumers.
The plain water bagel is low in calories compared to other traditional breakfast foods.
Estimates as to the number of calories in a bagel differ, and its size is a factor. Most
bagels weigh 4 to 5 ounces, and tally up to between 150 to 200 calories. The addition of
nuts, raisins, berries, chocolate chips and other ingredients will add to the count. I saw
a cracked wheat bagel in a health food store that had 320 calories. Some bagels weigh 6
ounces. Mini bagels may be 1 to 3 ounces, so the calories vary accordingly.
It's the toppings and spreads that shoot up the calorie tab, though this can be tempered
by using light and fat-free cheeses, and spreads without cheese. A whopping dollop of
cream cheese slapped onto each half of a bagel (2 tablespoons of cream cheese have 10
grams of fat and 100 calories) will wipe out the innocence of the plain bagel. Two
tablespoons of regular preserves (there are sugar free varieties, too) can add on 50
calories but no fat. And peanut butter? Well, you would rather not know, if you're
counting calories and grams of fat.
Still, you're better off with bagels than with a doughnut, which has 176 calories and 11
grams of fat. A homemade bran muffin (not the giant restaurant or bakery size) has 112
calories and 5 grams of fat. A large croissant has 300 calories, 17 grams of fat and 85
milligrams of cholesterol. The butter will do it every time. There is no butter in a bagel
recipe. Only egg bagels have cholesterol; even that can be eliminated using egg whites
instead of a whole egg (or 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute). But a sweet roll with nut and
raisin Danish filing, and icing, can top them all with about 360 calories, 2.3 grams of
fat and 82.2 milligrams of cholesterol.
ABOUT BAGELS -- GENERAL DIRECTIONS
The process is simple. Initially, the boiling procedure may seem strange, but
once you've done it, you'll wonder why you hesitated. Just boil a pot of water as you
would for spaghetti, and boil the shaped bagel for about 2 minutes, turning once. Your
first few bagels may not come out round and smooth on top, but they'll taste good anyway.
Be patient. The second batch will look better; by the third, you mat think you're ready to
go into business.
Basically, these are the basic steps required to make bagels. We'll go into each in
1. Mix, knead and first rise: Mix flour, water, salt, sugar (or malt or honey) and yeast,
knead them and let the dough rise for about an hour. Mixing and kneading can be done in a bread machine, a food processor,
a heavy duty mixer, or by hand.
this same procedure is used to make any yeast bread.
2. Shape bagels: Form the dough into the traditional bagel
shape by rolling, poking a hole in a ball or using a bagel cutter.
3. Second rise: Allow a short rest and second rise period,
about 20 minutes.
4. Boil or "kettle": Drop the bagels into boiling
water for 1 to 3 minutes and drain. You can bake immediately or refrigerate for 1 to 24
5. Glaze and apply topping: This step is not essential to
the final product.
6. Bake: Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 35 minutes.
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