Bagels are very unlike doughnuts although similar in shape. They are thick and chewy on the inside and should have a dark golden crust.
The perfect bagel is dense and chewy on the inside with a crispy brown crust. There are many types of bagels – some of which are flavored – and they are tasty at breakfast, as a snack, or served as a sandwich. Bagels and lox was among the first recognized methods of serving.
Bagels are shaped like doughnuts for a reason: to allow for even cooking throughout and for a uniform exterior. Bagel sellers on the streets of large cities sometimes place the freshly-baked goods on a stick.
Bagels can be made from wheat flour, white flour, or multi-grained. The dough itself may contain additives such as fruits, spices, and bits of dried vegetables. Toppings include toasted nuts, coarse salt, and onions.
Boiling and then baking is the standard for bagel-making as is the absence of egg (the New York bagel). However, some versions require egg, including the Montreal bagel, to create a fluffier inside.
Unless frozen, be sure they have been baked within the past few hours. Purchase early in the morning if possible and request that they be sliced.
Store at room temperature in a bag (about four days) or in the freezer (six months). When ready to thaw, sprinkle halves with water and bake. Refrigeration causes them to harden.
Bagel-making requires high-gluten flour to achieve the interior density. Bread flour can be an adequate substitute.
They are best consumed warm and fresh, but older bagels can be turned into crispy chips. Slice, season, and bake on low heat.
Always use “safe-slicing” practices when cutting a bagel. To handle safely, place the bagel on a solid surface, slice halfway through, then stand on end and finish, keeping fingers and hand away from the blade action. Bagel slicers are also available, inexpensive, and simple to use.