Traditional recipes

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bagels

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bagels

Any bagel lover will tell you that comparing a well-made bagel to a regular old roll is like comparing caviar to canned tuna. A roll is just some bread with a crust on it, while a bagel — a real bagel, not one sold next to the English muffins at the supermarket — is a true work of culinary art. There’s much more to a great bagel than meets the eye, so come along and learn 10 things you probably didn’t know about this legendary baked good.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bagels (Slideshow)

First of all, let’s get one thing out of the way. When it comes to bagels, there are two very different variations: the mass-produced ones wrapped in plastic on grocery store shelves (think Lender’s), and the real ones, made from scratch in bagel shops and sold (if you’re lucky) still piping hot. The former are, unfortunately, how most of us are introduced to bagels, and the latter are (also unfortunately) found mostly in the New York metropolitan area and a few scattered hotspots throughout the country. But if you ever find yourself in a place with great handmade bagels, don’t pass up the opportunity to try one.

A great bagel is denser than your average roll, slightly chewy, with some tug when you bite into it; the exterior is well-browned, shiny, and even crisp. It should taste malty and possibly slightly sweet (especially the Montreal-style bagel, made with honey), and any additions, from cinnamon and raisin on the inside to poppy or sesame seeds or dried onion or garlic on the outside, shouldn’t overwhelm that essential flavor. And if your bagel comes from a classic bagel shop (meaning that it’s been freshly-baked and is ideally still warm), then toasting it should be a serious no-no.

There are few savory baked goods more delicious than a hot bagel, right out of the oven. If you find yourself in an old-fashioned bagel shop, the first question you should ask is “What’s hot?” Spring for one of those (it won’t cost you much!), eat it right out of the bag, and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. Yes, bagels are high in carbohydrates, but when topped with a schmear of cream cheese and some thinly sliced smoked salmon, and maybe washed down with a mimosa or two, there are few more delicious ways to start off a weekend morning. But behind this delicious breakfast is a long and storied history, and we bet that there are a whole lot of things you didn’t know about this humble and storied baked good.

Its First Mention Dates Back to 1610

The bagel was invented in Krakow, Poland, and was a staple of the Polish diet in the 1500s and 1600s. The first written mention of the bagel (spelled “bajgiel”) comes from the 1610 Krakow “city regulations,” which states that bagels were a popular gift for women in childbirth. The earliest appearance of the word in English, spelled as we now spell it, on the other hand didn't come until 1932.

Its Name Has a Very Lengthy History

The word bagel has a fairly lengthy etymology. The word apparently derives from the Yiddish beygel, which in turn can be traced to words in Middle and Old High German and Old English. The word's ancestors in various languages include būgan, bēag, böugel, and beygl, all of which mean approximately the same thing: “ring.”

10 Things You Didn&rsquot Know About S&rsquomores

In celebration of National S&rsquomores day, bite into these fun facts about everyone&rsquos favorite ooey, gooey campfire treat.

The recipe is one we all know: Sandwich a toasted marshmallow and a hefty square of chocolate between two graham crackers. Eat and repeat. Craving one already? While s’mores are fit for any occasion, National S’mores Day—Sunday, August 10—provides the perfect excuse. While celebrating, impress your campfire companions with some little known facts about s’mores.

1. The Merriam-Webster dictionary, which defines s’mores as 𠇊 dessert consisting usually of toasted marshmallow and pieces of chocolate bar sandwiched between two graham crackers,” suggests the first known use of the word was in 1974.

2. It appears the treat was a campfire staple long before the dictionary officially recognized it: The first known s&aposmores recipe was published in the Girl Scouts handbook Tramping and Trailing With the Girl Scouts in 1927. The snack was originally called “some mores.”

3. Campers at Deer Run Camping Resort in Gardners, Pennsylvania recently built what could just be the world’s largest s’more. Weighing in at 267 pounds, the supersized sweet was comprised of 140 pounds of marshmallows, 90 pounds of chocolate, and 90 pounds of graham crackers.

4. According to The S’mores Cookbook, Americans buy 90 million pounds of marshmallows every year. It’s estimated that, during the summer, approximately 50 percent of marshmallows sold are roasted for s’mores.

5. If you don’t have access to an open fire, there are still plenty of ways to make s’mores. The S’mores Cookbook explains how to cook the tasty treat on the grill, in the broiler, with a kitchen torch, in a microwave, or over a gas stove, candle, or Sterno.

6. Perfect your technique: According to S&aposmores: Gourmet Treats for Every Occasion, marshmallows cook faster on a metal rod or coat hanger than on a wooden one, and coals tend to cook the snack faster and more consistently than flames.

7. The popularity of the original s’more has inspired American food manufacturers to create other chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker treats, including Pop-Tarts, cereal, ice cream, and even Goldfish.

8. Restaurants are also trying to capitalize on the dessert’s popularity with some downright unique iterations, like s’mores French fries, martinis, macarons, and more.

9. Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham invented the graham cracker in 1829 in Bound Brook, New Jersey. The original graham cracker was a health food recommended as part of a diet intended to help suppress sexual desire, which Graham believed to be unhealthy.

10. According to a release from The Hershey Company, the company produces more than 373 million milk chocolate bars each year, enough to make 746 million s’mores.


Traces of arsenic in food are nothing new. The potent human carcinogen arsenic has been known to turn up in everything from rice to cereal to juice, and most recently German researchers found traces of it in beer, noting some levels found were more than twice than what is allowed in drinking water. Traces of arsenic can actually be found in both beers and wine that are clearer in colour. That's because they will have been filtered to get rid of plant matter and leftover yeast most people don't want to drink a cloudy pinot grigio after all. To filter, beer and winemakers use diatomaceous earth, a natural product that contains iron and metals hence the arsenic. Want less arsenic in your drink? Opt for drinks that are unfiltered.

5 Things You Didn't Know About Fried Chicken

Who doesn't like a piece of chicken, battered and deep-fried in some hot oil until it's crispy on the outside but still nice and juicy on the inside? Yum. This method of frying chicken was perfected in the U.S. but not without a lot of influence from other countries — and even some controversies along the way. Here are five delicious facts about fried chicken.

1. Credit the Scots — Or the Ancient Egyptians

Although neither group is likely come to mind as the innovators of fried chicken, historians believe they both had a hand in it. Between 7,500 to 5,000 B.C.E., wild fowl were domesticated in Southeast Asia and stewed chicken appeared in accounts of that period from China, West Africa and the Middle East. From the Middle East, the chicken made its way to ancient Egypt where its image adorned Pharaohs' tombs and its meat fed the slaves building the pyramids.

From Egypt, chicken spread its wings to Greece, the rest of the Mediterranean and then on to the British Isles. The type of fried chicken favored in the U.S. may have been imported by Scottish settlers to America, whose citizens favored pan-frying chicken as opposed to boiling or roasting it the way the English did.

However, as an Atlantic article put it, "While we can no longer be sure whether it was African slaves or Southerners of European descent who first decided to bread and fry these stringy yardbirds, we do know that West Africans have a tradition of frying food in hot oil, and that fried chicken as we know it today originated in the South."

2. The American South Perfected It

The first recipe for fried chicken in the U.S. appeared in a book called "The Virginia Housewife, Or Methodical Cook" published in 1825. This was written by Mary Randolph, who ran a boarding house, and whose brother was married to Thomas Jefferson's daughter. In fact, Randolph's book is considered by many to be the first cookbook ever published in America, and the inclusion of a fried chicken recipe says something about the dish's place in the culinary landscape of the country. Her recipe would be familiar to cooks today and involves dredging a cut-up bird in flour, sprinkling it with some salt and deep-frying the pieces in lard.

Before World War II, fried chicken was a special occasion dish because the meat was not that cheap and it was laborious to cook. After butchering the chicken and singing out the feathers, you had to cut up the chicken and stand over the stove as you fried it. The dish wasn't often seen in restaurants either.

3. Segregation Helped it to Flourish

Slave codes in the South forbade enslaved people from owning hogs or cattle but allowed them chickens, as those animals were considered too insignificant to ban. That, coupled with the fact that the bird was tasty, made it a favorite for slaves — as well as the plantation masters for whom they cooked.

But unfortunately, eating fried chicken became associated with ugly racial stereotypes. In the 19th century one writer noted, that "were the negro to be cut off from chickens he would probably pine and die." A scene in the 1915 racist film "Birth of a Nation" showed the "dangers" of having black elected officials by portraying them acting rowdy and greedily eating fried chicken.

However, fried chicken also provided a way of improving one's lot. During and after the Civil War, African-American women in Gordonsville, Virginia often sold fried chicken and other foods to passengers on trains as a way of earning money. In fact Gordonsville became known as the "Fried Chicken Capital of the World."

Jim Crow laws in the South prevented African-Americans from eating in most restaurants before the 1960s. So they often carried fried chicken in a shoeboxes lined with waxed paper when traveling. Fried chicken didn't need refrigeration so it was good to carry on a long trip whether by train or car.

4. Colonel Sanders Was No Overnight Success

Harland Sanders had done time as a tire salesman, gas station owner and soldier (the "Colonel" was an honorary title from the Kentucky governor in 1936), among many other jobs, before he came up with a genius method for cooking fried chicken quickly. This involved using a pressure cooker and a secret blend of seasonings. He sold the dish at a restaurant he opened in Corbin, Kentucky — but it didn't catch on.

However, he did have success selling the recipe to another restaurant and that gave Sanders an idea. At age 65, he hit the road selling his fried chicken recipe and the right to use the name "Kentucky Fried Chicken" to businesses in exchange for a 5 cent royalty on every chicken sold. He adopted the white suit as part of his Kentucky colonel shtick. By 1964, when he sold his company, there were 600 franchises.

Today, KFC is one of the best-known fast food brands worldwide, with more than 18,000 franchises in 115 countries. In Japan for instance, a bucket of KFC is a mandatory part of Christmas celebrations.

How to Spot a Good Bagel Recipe

Of all the bakery-style bread products you can make at home, bagels might be the most intimidating. They really shouldn’t be. The dough is easy to handle and very hard to mess up with the right recipe, even your first attempt will taste 10 times better than anything you can get outside of a legit bagel shop.

The hard part is finding that recipe. I’m here to help. I used to make bagels professionally from a recipe I developed and, nearly a decade later, it’s still what I use at home. (I haven’t published it. Yet.) But you don’t need to be a former pro to sling great bagels in your very own kitchen—you just need to know what works and what doesn’t. Here are my best tips for determining whether a recipe is worth your time .

Start with the ingredients list

On top of the obvious (bread flour, water, salt, yeast), you’ll want a recipe that calls for a thick liquid sweetener. Traditionally, New York-style bagels use barley malt syrup and Montreal-style bagels use honey. I’ve used both, and prefer molasses because it’s cheap, common, and works great.

Next, work out the hydration percentage . It should be about 50%, which is much lower than other types of bread. This produces a dense, sturdy dough that holds up to boiling water and gets super chewy in the oven. Slightly higher hydration is fine, but once you hit 60% it turns into pizza dough.

Next, look at the directions

This is where things tend to get hairy. Bagels aren’t technically difficult to make, but doing it right takes time. Lots of recipes try to get around the time commitment by taking shortcuts that always hurt the finished product. Treat them like the red flags they are—if you see one, move along:

Oh, the things you can make with a sesame seed

It's the seed that's got everyone talking, and eating.

by Jaime Fraze | Tuesday, December 5, 2017

by Jaime Fraze
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Grind them up for tahini. Turn them into halvah for a fun dessert. Make a brittle candy popular in Greece called Pasteli. Sprinkle them atop all manner of dishes, from salmon to bagels to sweet breads and cakes. Is there anything you can't make from a humble sesame seed? Indeed, this seed has all sorts of uses you might not even know about, and foods you might not even know were made with sesame seeds.


/> Tehina, or tahini, is a sesame-based paste. (Photo: bozulek / Shutterstock)

The same process by which the peanut turns into peanut butter, by extracting the oils within and mashing to a paste, is what turns sesame seeds into tahini. The spread is incredibly versatile and nutritious – it's a good source of calcium, iron and dietary fiber.

In North Africa, Greece, Israel and the surrounding area, tahini is an essential part of the diet. It is eaten on its own, used as a garnish and condiment, and added to foods such as hummus and baba ghanoush. It's even garnered the attention of Forbes Magazine, which just named Jackie and Amy Zitelman, founders of Soom, to their 30 Under 30 ranking. The Philadelphia-based tahini company really took off after James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov, of Zahav and Dizengoff fame, began making his signature hummus with Soom tahini.

/> Jackie Zitelman Horvitz, Amy Zitelman and Shelby Zitelman are co-founders of Soom Foods, a Philadelphia-based tahini company. (Photo: Zoom Foods)


/> Seed + Mill has many different flavors of halvah, a sweet treat derived from ground sesame seeds. (Photo: Seed + Mill)

It looks like some sort of cake-fudge mashup, and its flavor is . well, it's fantastic. It's no secret that this is one of Israel's favorite treats, and in the U.S., it's steadily becoming a neat little novelty. There's even a shop in New York City devoted entirely to foods made from sesame seeds, and halvah is the big star. It's called Seed + Mill, and From The Grapevine staff writer recently paid it a visit – and filmed the entire thing.

Seed + Mill has mouth-watering, show-stopping halvah – and you can also make halvah at home quite easily, using our recipe.


/> Sesame and honey make a simple, wholesome candy bar. (Photo: Chamrasamee/Shutterstock)

It's been part of the Greek diet for thousands of years. In fact, you might have eaten one, or seen one at a bakery or open-air market, and not even known what it is. They're called Pasteli, and there's really not much to them: sesame seeds, honey and maybe some peanuts. Depending on the flavor combination, Pasteli have a consistency ranging anywhere from crispy to chewy. You can also find a version of this candy in Israel, often made with date honey. And there's a version of the candy made in India with jaggery, a form of sugar from Asia and Africa.

Jerusalem bagels

/> Homemade Jerusalem bagels (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

If it's topped with sesame seeds, you know it's going to be good. It's like an earthy, nutty cherry on top of your bread, bagel or pastry. In Jerusalem, you'll find this seed smothering a massive, golden-brown bread that's sort of half pretzel, half bagel. They're called, appropriately, Jerusalem bagels.

Our recipe provides you with the authentic just-barely-sweet, sesame-rich flavor of bake shops in the historic city, with a crisp crust and distinctive soft interior. For best results, eat while they're hot.

Asian dishes

/> Broccoli lovers, rejoice. (Photo: Jerry James Stone)

A large portion of Asian cuisine is cooked in sesame oil. The essence of the seed is not always enough. So what to do? Top it with sesame seeds, as in this broccoli dish above. The possibilities just soar from there, from steak-wrapped string beans to sesame broccoli (two versions, here and here) to salmon salad.

Jaime Fraze is a staff writer, copy editor and web producer at From the Grapevine who also manages Israeli Kitchen, From The Grapevine’s food channel.

It was listed because it appeared 700 times in the 418-million word database of English words and phrases from which Collins compiles its dictionary, and as such was deemed a common word.

The explanation of the noun went was said to be the 'recipes or style of cooking of British cookery writer Delia Smith'. The dictionary also offered the follow definitions:

1. Attributed to or in the style of Delia Smith, a Delia dish 2. The 'Delia effect' occurs when millions seek out an ingredient or piece of equipment she has recommended.

Can I freeze these bagels?

Yes! Feel free to double the recipe so you have some to freeze. We do it all the time for an easy lunch or snack.

In fact, we had thawed bagels for dinner last night thanks to a super busy schedule (why hello there soccer season, is it you again?).

To freeze them in freezer bags, pack them in after they’ve cooled completely. They are best frozen the same day they are made.

Well that just about sums up the steps. Now get your aprons on and go bake some bagels. Don’t forget to save some for me. Cheese, please!

Update (5/21/2020): Since I posted this recipe, I’ve had quite a few questions about the texture of the dough, kneading it properly, and how to know if you have enough flour, etc. If you are new to breadmaking (or just looking to up your breadmaking game), I wrote up a super detailed guide to baking with yeast. In it I answer a lot of these basic bread making questions and more. Happy breadmaking, my friends!

My bagels didn't look quite right, but I was happy they at least resembled what the judges were looking for

It took me a total of 168 minutes, or two hours and 48 minutes. If I had boiled two or three bagels at a time instead of one — my pot was smaller than the ones used on the show — I think I would've finished just in the nick of time.

Since I wasn't able to get my dough as vibrant as it should've been, my bagels started to brown in the oven, which made the exterior colors a bit dull.

Although my bagels were too large (very "Hula-Hoop-like," as Hollywood described contestant Peter Sawkins' bagels) and far from uniform, they had a slight puff to them and felt hollow.

I definitely think they needed to prove for longer in order to achieve the dome-like rise most bagels have.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 4 ½ cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 cup honey (Optional)
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds (Optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (Optional)
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes (Optional)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt (Optional)

Combine 1 1/4 cup water, flour, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, vegetable oil, and yeast in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed using the dough hook until well-developed, about 8 minutes. To ensure the gluten has developed fully, cut off a walnut-sized piece of dough. Flour your fingers, and then stretch the dough: if it tears immediately, the dough needs more kneading. Fully developed dough should form a thin translucent "windowpane."

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and let rise for 2 hours.

Punch the dough down, place it on a lightly floured work surface, and use a knife or dough scraper to divide the dough into 6 pieces (or more, for smaller bagels). Roll each piece of dough into a sausage shape about 6 inches long. Join the ends to form a circle. Repeat with the remaining dough, and let the bagels rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange small plates with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and onion flakes next to the baking sheet.

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add honey, if desired (see Editor's Note). Boil the bagels, three at a time, until they rise to the surface of the pot, about 1 minute per side. Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Dip the tops of the wet bagels into the toppings and arrange them, seeds up, on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired. Bake in the preheated oven until the bagels begin to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

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Hey There! Thanks for stopping by! Here's what you can expect to find on Bright-Eyed Baker: lots of baked goods and other sweets made from scratch (many of which are gluten-free), plus the occasional savory recipe or mixed drink. My goal is to show you that from-scratch baking - gluten-free or not! - doesn't have to be intimidating. Learn more about me.

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