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origin of bagels

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
I was asked recently by some colleagues if i knew anywhere in Rome that sold real American-style bagels. I only ever had one bagel in Rome and it was a huge disappointment. It just tasted like plain bread dough made into a ring and boiled and baked. It was very small, so there was no chewy texture, it was fairly dry, there was clearly no milk or sugar in the batter. I am used to bagels that are just a very little bit sweet and seem, at least, to contain milk (though I don;t know if that is kosher - in both senses of the word). But this was just like a flour, yeast, salt and water dough.

It got me thinking what exactly is the origin of bagels, what country do they come from originally, and how were they originally made.
I had a Hungarian desert once called beigli (guessing at the spelling, but pronounced like bagelee) which was a dough rolled out and filled with poppy seed filling and then rolled like a thin jelly roll and the jelly roll shaped like a pretzel. And i imagine the word is similar to words in other languages too.

But the question is, where did the American bagel come from?
And another is, how was the original bagel in the "old country" (whatever it was) made? Was it anything like the one we all know? or was it maybe dry like the one i had here in Rome.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #2 of 39
The Wikipedia clearly tells the origin:
"Contrary to common legend, the bagel was not created in the shape of a stirrup to commemorate the victory of Poland’s King Jan Sobieski over the Ottoman Turks in 1683. It was actually invented much earlier in Kraków, Poland, as a competitor to the obwarzanek, a lean bread of wheat flour designed for Lent. In the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, the bajgiel became a staple of the Polish national diet.[5]
There was a tradition among many observant Jewish families to make bagels on Saturday evenings at the conclusion of the Sabbath. Due to Jewish Sabbath restrictions, they were not permitted to cook during the period of the Sabbath and, compared with other types of bread, bagels could be baked very quickly as soon as it ended.
That the name originated from beugal (old spelling of Bügel, meaning bail/bow or bale) is considered plausible by many, 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 round loaf of bread (see Gugelhupf for an Austrian cake with a similar ring shape), 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).[6] 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.[7]
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 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.[8]"

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post #3 of 39
Definition Petals gave is about best your going to get. Some things I would add are New York Bagels are good because of the water, as it was to beer brewing, Unfortunatly brewers and some mom and pop good bagel places were put out of business by the unions.. Here in Florida the local bagels are the pitts. In addition to bad water we have humitity factor.The Lender brothers out of Connecticut automated the bagel business, but now they are terrible, as they sold the business. If you ever get to NY try and buy H&H bagels they are deemed the best by bagel people.
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post #4 of 39
Thread Starter 
Ok, so it appears that bagels come from Poland. Has anyone on these forums been to Poland? Have they had Polish bagels?? Are they slightly sweet like american bagels are? (I suspect that sugar in bread is very much an American thing, but maybe not?)

I have my doubts about wikipedia, since if i understand right, anyone can contribute. Lots of "facts" are "well known" but false. Was hoping for some first-hand knowledge.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 39
Go on the web to Bagels, you can find all the info you want from many different sources.
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post #6 of 39
Thread Starter 
Hi Ed,
Yeah, i looked on internet, but most of what i read is unreferenced and sounds like it was just invented. Internet is completely unreliable, anyone can write anything and there it is, and if you know how to set up a website, you can make it appear in the first ten pages of google using many keywords many times. One site will say x and the other site will say not-x, and there is no way to figure out which is right.

The reason I ask here is that even if most of the people are anonymous, they are real people and tend to be more reliable, and tend not to just blather stuff because they feel a certain commitment to the others and have a reputation, at least within the site. I imagine that SOMEONE has actually eaten a bagel in Poland or has some idea about what they taste like in their country of origin. I would trust someone's first hand experience over some anonymous author or journalist or internet person who just needs a nice story to back up an advertisement for a bakery or for their blog or whatever.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #7 of 39
My husband is Polish and he says that the bagels in Europe are no better than the ones in Montreal or New York for that matter.

In Montreal the competion for the best bagel is fierce. Every year bakers go head to head competing , wanting to have the crown.

One important thing to realize is that some bakers use more sugar, some more salt, some don't even boil before baking. Who is to say what is a true bagel, recipes change , every country has a different spin. Have you had one from Paris ? One from Germany ? Gautemala ? Yes, they all taste pretty good. I go to the Bahamas every year (and well as other spots) and sure enough, their bagels are just so tasty.
I thought Montreal was fantastic , but NY is pretty hard to beat, Kossar's Bialys Llc, then there is H & H, what about Murray's on 500 Ave. of the America's ?
So you see , no matter what you read, it all boils down to personal taste.

Petals

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post #8 of 39
Some bakers use malt and much less sugar. In NY the boiled bagel is called a water bagel. n many cases lye(thats right lye) is added to the water as the hotter the boil the better the bagel and the more they expand. Other bagels are simply proofed or steam injected.
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post #9 of 39
Thread Starter 
Hi petalsandcoco
Maybe my question wasn;t clear. I wondered, not if the bagels in Poland were "better" or "worse" than New York or anywhere else, but what is the original bagel supposed to taste like. Maybe I prefer the American kind, that's another question, and of course, is also a matter of taste. There is a sweet anice raisin bread made in Lucca called Buccellato. I find it unbearably dry and unpleasant. I make a similar anice raisin bread that is soft and which I think is much better. But if someone wants to know what the TRADITIONAL buccellato is, i would have to say that mine is not that, even if it is, to my mind, at least, better.

Since the bagel i had in Rome was definitely NOT good, to my taste, but dry, but it's a bakery that seems to want to present itself as making many foreign sweets in an authentic way. I wondered if they had gotten their recipe from the original in Poland. I was just curious if the bagel as we know and love it might not be a variation developed in the US, rather than the way it was originally made.
Same goes, for that matter, for the sachertorte, which I've found to be dry every time I;ve had it in Austria or in an austrian pastry shop here. I make one that is moist.

Could you ask your husband what the polish bagel is actually like? Is it slightly sweet and chewy and soft as our american ones are? or is it dry and completely unsweet. Since Americans put sugar in all kinds of bread, maybe the sweetness (which i like, by the way), was added when it got to the states. Many dishes have changed when imported by poor immigrants into the US where it was possible to afford what had been luxuries in the old country - eggs, sugar, butter, etc. The old recipes got richer. It seems strange that a traditional bread made in Europe would have sugar in it.

And do they toast them and put cream cheese on them?

It's just a curiosity.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #10 of 39
I've had Polish style bagels -- not in Poland but in early-sixties Israel. I remember that they were very thin and extremely chewy -- almost like a soft pretzel -- not at all suited for creamcheese and lox.

Eastern European bagels are usually made with (wait for it) a poolish. That is, they're slightly sour compared to anything made without a preferment.

The slightly sweet taste common to U.S. bagels comes from using diastatic malt powder or barley malt syrup. Typical water bagel dough doesn't use much sugar. Diastatic malt powder isn't easy to find, but you can find it and and buy it reasonably from King Arthur Flour. A lot of health food places carry barley malt syrup.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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post #11 of 39
The bagel is sometimes called beigel, in Poland also bajgiel, bajgel, precel, obwarzanek.

Yes, they are chewy and have a dense consistancy. They have a doughy interior and a somewhat crispy exterior. Bagels (parve) are by no means sweet and they are not thick and round by what we see here in North America.
I agree that the components in the manufacturing has changed alot over the years. Is this a good thing ? I don't know.
Something similar to this is bialy, which does not have a hole and is less crispy on the outside. The key factor to this product is it's high-gluten flour, often made with sugar, malt syrup or honey for that matter.
Interesting enough, New York, Montreal and Quebec City are North America's bagel capitals.
If you were to ask my preference, a good old fashioned Jewish bagel is hard to beat.
Ed, I did not know about the lye.
Siduri, I would love to try your bagel, can your arms reach here ? I love your topic, look forward to more informative discussions.

BDL, Thanks for the laugh :) I am not Polish, My mother is Irish, family in England (landed immigrants on Les Isles de Madeleine) and my dad is Scot/French. My mother tongue is what they call here : Franglais.

"I am just a button mushroom among some pretty great Portobello's"

Petals



ps. I love a well seasoned conversation, serious/funny

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post #12 of 39
In yiddish, it's pronounced "BAY - guh - leh."

A couple of supermarket chains make some pretty good bagels. Well, they're really not a lot like bagels except in appearance -- but whatever they are, they're pretty good.

Considering it's the exact same dough, a bialy is amazingly unlike a bagel. Bialy's are all about the onions. Speaking of dough, basic bagel recipe dough makes for excellent pizza.

BDL
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post #13 of 39
Thread Starter 
Thank you both., I think, sadly, that the one i had here was probably more authentic than the ones i know and love. But it does confirm my suspicion, bagels, in their original form, were not slightly sweet as the ones we know.
I wanted to know also so i wouldn't make a fool of myself going into the shop and saying, "hey, this is not a "real" bagel" when it actually IS.
Thanks
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #14 of 39
In the old daze I sure liked the bialys that were made at Brothers Bagels of Berkeley, California. Tastey and somewhat crispier than their usual bagels and with a hole in the middle if I recall correctly. Mmmmmmm, an onion bialys, a side of butter, a goodly side of lox with a glass of Merlot. 'been collecting Merlots since the 70's. Life is gooooooood, 'specially when one gets older and less inhibited.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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-T

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post #15 of 39
A bialy is a pretty specific thing. There's no hole, at least not one going all the way through, at least not on purpose. By definition, all bialy's are onion bialys.

Bialys are easier to make than bagels, in that forming them is much simpler.

You make a batch of stiff, white dough, let it rise, punch it down, and roll it into a fat cylinder -- about 3" in diameter. Then you use a knife to cut the cylinder into discs, about 1-1/2" thick. Lay out the cylinders and let them rise for a bit. Pick them up and stretch them into discs, about 5" in diameter, thin in the center with a thicker ring around the edge. You want that ring about 1" wide. Fill the center with a mix of sesame seed and onion which have been cooked together long enough for the onion to carmelize. Let them take another rise, and bake. That's it!

BDL
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post #16 of 39
Is there a windowpane in the middle of that disk?

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-T

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-T

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post #17 of 39

i love bagels

now i can live up to my name. i hope to one day have my bagel house. i have made some at home with some active dry yeast and that makes a slight diffrence, but thats for a kosher bagel. and i hope to one day make the best **** bagel ever.
post #18 of 39
Having lived in NY for a long time, I am wondering"" What is a Kosher Bagel''' Most of them are Parve. So they go with either meat or dairy at different meals or times.:chef:
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post #19 of 39
Chef ED,

I know that you know all about Bagels, the ones here, in Montreal,
contains malt, egg and no salt. They are boiled in honey sweetened water.
The bagels are baked in wood-fired oven.

Unlike the oversized two inch specials you see at some of the stores around here.
simplement , vidange !

It takes me an hour and a half to go to the St. Viateur Bagel Store and the owner hand picks them for you and puts them in a brown paper bag. Quelle Service !
It does not get better than that.

Petals

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post #20 of 39
They are boiled in NY also . and have malt and honey . These are called water bagels BUT
lye is added to water as the hoter the water the better the bagel. Where you are by adding honey to water it will also make it hotter as any form of sugar added will make water boil at higher point.
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post #21 of 39
To make the water hotter by adding LYE .... a real science.

Cream cheese and lox (sometimes transparent onions and capers )......my heart goes pitter patter.

Sometimes I put cream cheese and strawberry jam, tastes like some sort of cheesecake.

A perfect supper anytime !!!!

Finely executed dishes in the day to a soulful "Bay-guy-leh" at night....I'll take the bagel , thanks.

Petals

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post #22 of 39
The lye does raise the boiling point very slightly, but only very slightly; the concentration is far too low to do much, around 1%. What it does do are the same things it does for pretzels -- calm the nerves of Eastern European bakers who've always done it that way, and aid in browning when the bagels are subsequently baked.

BDL
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post #23 of 39
AS far as kosher, i believe its a jewish tradition. there is many recipies and that they use for their sabbath and they call them kosher. please dont quote me, but i think that is what kosher means.
post #24 of 39
Not quoting you, but no. It isn't.

BDL
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post #25 of 39
Great bagels in London - particularly in the old Jewish bakeries in East London and nowadays Finchley.

They pronounce them 'by gehls' - probably the cockney influence on Eastern European immigrant accents!
post #26 of 39
i would say i need to travel across america and more. And not just to learn about bagels, so that i have that experience to talk about. ofcourse adding bagels to that experience would be great, something i could add to my bagel house some day.;)
post #27 of 39
i guess i was misguided. i saw it in youtube. sorry about that.
post #28 of 39
hey chef ed. ill try not to forget about the wood fire ovens. ill think about it for my bagel house. thanks
post #29 of 39
What is LYE?
post #30 of 39
No need to be sorry.

Jewish dietary law is called kashrut (sometimes written or pronounced kashruth, with an "h" -- long story). Kosher is the Yiddish/Hebrew adjective describing things which fall within the law, while treif is the term to describe things which are well outside the law.

It's not just a matter of ingredients, but combinations of ingredients and practices which can be kosher or not. Kashrut has nothing to do with shabat (the sabbath).

One combination which isn't allowed is combining milk with meat.

The term "kosher bagel" usually means one of two things. The two most common is that the bagel was made in a kosher kitchen; was only handled according to kashrut afterwards; and observant Jews are permitted to eat them. Or, that the bagel is pareve, i.e., made without milk or meat, and may be eaten during a meal which includes either.

If you see "kosher" applied to some bagels but not others on the same menu, it's the second meaning.

Not all Jews keep kosher. Of those that do, not all follow kashrut to the same degree or in exactly the same way. When in doubt, ask -- preferably the person you're trying to feed.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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