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Bagel

A bagel is a bread product, traditionally shaped by hand into the form of a ring from yeasted wheat dough, roughly hand-sized, which is first boiled for a short time in water and then baked. The result is a dense, chewy, doughy interior with a browned and sometimes crisp exterior. Bagels are often topped with seeds baked on the outer crust, with the traditional ones being poppy or sesame seeds. Some also may have salt sprinkled on their surface, and there are also a number of different dough types such as whole-grain or rye.

Bagels have become a popular bread product in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, especially in cities with large Jewish populations, many with different ways of making bagels. Like other bakery products, bagels are available (either fresh or frozen, and often in many flavor varieties) in many major supermarkets in those countries.

The basic roll-with-a-hole design is hundreds of years old and has other practical advantages besides providing for a more even cooking and baking of the dough: the hole could be used to thread string or dowels through groups of bagels, allowing for easier handling and transportation and more appealing seller displays.

History
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 Krakow, Poland, as a competitor to the bublik, 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.

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 Begel, 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 'beugel' 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).

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 'begel', a stirrup or ring.

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.

In modern times Canadian-born astronaut Gregory Chamitoff is the first person known to have taken a batch of bagels into space on his 2008 Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station. His shipment consisted of 18 sesame seed bagels.

Varieties
The two most prominent styles of traditional bagel in North America are the Montreal-style bagel and the New York-style bagel. The Montreal bagel contains malt and sugar with no salt; it is boiled in honey-sweetened water before baking in a wood-fired oven; and it is predominantly either of the poppy "black" or sesame "white" seeds variety. The New York bagel contains salt and malt and is boiled in water prior to baking in a standard oven. The resulting New York bagel is puffy with a moist crust, while the Montreal bagel is smaller (though with a larger hole), crunchier, and sweeter.

Poppy seeds are sometimes called by their Yiddish name, spelled either mun or mon (written מאָן) which is very similar to the German word for poppy, Mohn, as used in Mohnbratchen. The traditional London bagel (or beigel as it is spelled) is harder and has a coarser texture with air bubbles.

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