Monday, April 14, 2008

If I Look Different, It's Because I've Turned into a Bagel

This time of year, with Lacrosse season and never ending brunches, my consumption of these delicious doughy devils rises through the roof! Please pass the cream cheese!

The bagel is an Eastern European creation crafted to honor the Polish King John III Sobieski in 1683 when he defended Vienna from a Turkish invasion. The yeasty dough was shaped into a circle to resemble a stirrup, symbolizing the hero king's favorite pass time. The bagel spread thoughout the jewish community and migrated west to the United States in the early 20th century. The Bagel Bakers Local 338 controlled the recipe and dominated the industry with teamsters-like influence. "My father ran a bakery in Brooklyn, but he never made a bagel because he couldn't get into the union, and they would have broken his legs if he made bagels without being in the union," said Michael Yoss, who owns Royal Bagel in Atlanta.*

Today, we've developed a taste for a soft squish that comes from using steam before baking the bagel instead of the traditional boiling method. Bagels used to have a thick crust and meaty inside, and the old-worlders lament the transformation of a long-time love into nothing more than dinner rolls.

Making bagels is a great way to spend an afternoon. When I rolled out and shaped my first test-bagel, I have to say the result was less than beautiful, but it tasted great!

Here is a recipe from Cooks Illustrated. I trust them implicitly.

*Molly O'Neill, "Bagels Are Now Fast Food, and Purists Do a Slow Boil," New York Times, April 25, 1993.