Bagel is a type of bread with differences in cooking method and shape. When other broadside baked only, and bagels are boiled before baking. It creates a different chewy texture inside and uniquely crispy outer surface form.
When bagel dough is boiled, it starts to be fluffy. After boiling, it is baked, and the soft part gets inside and makes a shiny golden brown outer surface. All these textures and tastes come from the round shape and the hole of the center part.
But why is there a hole in a bagel? Is it only for the texture and taste preferences? There are lots of theories or mythologies for the hole of the bagel. History defines this hole of bagel in different ways. It is interesting to know. Get through this page and learn fascinating information about the bagel hole.
Why Is There A Hole In A Bagel?
Bagel preparation is quite tricky as it contains only a few ingredients. The perfection of the bagel surface and inner part comes with a tricky cooking process. Its inside part is chewy, and the outside is chewier. Only the boiling and baking process is involved in the bagel recipe. Now the question arises with the hole at the center.
Though the hole seems a waste when you feel to put some portion at the blank center, it is actually not. This hole ensures the perfect heating process. This round shape with the hole creates an ideal chewy consistency and crispy surface with only boiling and baking steps.
So, is that the only reason behind the bagel hole? Nope. The shape and hole at the middle of the bagel come a long way, and there is more behind this shape. Let’s explore the history and short mythology of the bagel shape and hole.
Pretzels to Bagel: History
History picks the root of the origination. When you search for bagel history, you will find many myths too. We have found a theory on bagel origins from the history book on ‘The Bagel,’ we have found an idea on bagel origins.
In the 14th century, many German immigrants moved to Poland. When German citizens came, they bought their traditional item, pretzels. These pretzels have a tricky shape, with two holes at the center. With time, it has changed its constitution in Poland. It becomes more round with one hole. At that time, this new shape has got a new name, ‘ Obwarzanek.’
When this new invention, pastry items, arrived on the market, it slowly became popular. Then a Polish monarch, Queen Jadwiga, preferred Obwarzanek to eat in Lent for its low cost. This act of the Qu Jadwiga boosted the popularity of Obwarzanek. Then it spread over time and has earned its popularity massively.
Innovation of A Chef to Honor A King: History
With the missing exact proof for every story, there is another story on the arrival of the bagel shape with a hole. This story tells the time of its origin and its name. This story has come from eastern and central Europe. According to the story, the creation of the bagel happened in 1683, when the Turkish was started to advance for violating Vienna’s freedom.
Jan Sobieski attacked Turkish forces with a huge army. He counteracted the Turkish forces from Vienna. Then Viennese baker wanted to thank Jan Sobieski. That’s when the Viennese chef innovated a particular bread type to honor the king, Jan Sobieski. When making the bread, the chef wished to tribute to the king’s love and his horses.
So, he did not follow the traditional breast shape. Instead, the chef makes a round figure of bread that gives its twist with the hole at the middle following the formation of the stirrup. They named this bread type on the German stirrup, and it was ‘Bugle.’ the king loves this tribute an honor. Then the popularity of bread spread all over Europe.
To Make Different Bread than Cristian Bread: History
This story comes from the same time, in the 17th century. At that time, German immigrants were rushed and settled in Poland, where the Jewish immigrants were also settling. Here, Jewish were not allowed to bake or make bread. It is because the bread was a holy Christian food at that time. The restriction for Jewish was settled by law.
This law was invalidated by the Polish prince Boleslaw. He decided and announced that Jewish could buy, sell, and touch the bread as Christians do. It was a massive move, and most Secular world was against this rule.
A rumor was spread out on this situation, and this rumor was that the Jewish bakers poison the bread and then serve it in the market. There were lots happened on this bread production by a wish. No Christians were happy with this Law.
After a long race, this law was accepted, and Jewish have achieved the right to make bread. But the Law had put a restriction for Jewish that they could make their bread only by boiling. They could not bake their bread.
Then Jewish bakes tried to create a unique shape and cooking method for their bread, avoiding all mistakes. They gave their bread a round shape with a hole in the middle. With this shape and form, the name ‘Bagel’ came. ‘Bagel’ was taken from the Yiddish word ‘Beigen,’ which means ‘to bend.’ With this distinctive shape, these Jewish pieces of bread were different from Christian bread.
From the Jewish Meaning
The German meaning of the word ‘Bagel’ is ‘Bracelet.’ the bagel has got the shape of a bracelet with a hole in the middle part. But why is it like that?
Though there is no confusion and no proof, it is almost confirmed that bagel is associated with the Jewish faith and values and eastern and central Europe. Some references tell about the origin of the bagel from the Polish Shtetl. Maybe the root of the bagel resides on it.
The Yiddish word ‘Shtetl’ means ‘little town.’ So, it is clear that Polish and Jewish history is related to Bagel’s formation. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Jewish people lived in the small towns of Poland and Russia.
In this town, Jewish people lived at the center, and gentiles lived in the outskirts. So, there was variation in communities and their religions, belief, etc. People had been selling their bagels in the street at that time.
But people needed licenses to make and sell bagels. Sometimes, people wanted to sell bagels to support their families. Some children did that too. Without licenses, all of them were punished hard. So, bagels were more connected to Jewish people. These bagels symbolize many things, as said by the scholars of that time.
The circle of the bagel symbolizes the never-ending process of life and death. Another way, this bagel shape is for protecting the evil eye. Bagels are also known to Jewish people as the symbol for bringing good luck. That’s why these bagels are given to women when they labor or give birth.
So, there are huge meanings and stories for the shape and hole formation of Bagel. But the last thing is that bagels are unique and tasty.
The Practical Reason Behind the Hole of a Bagel
Though there is much history for the origination of the bagel’s shape, there is a practical reason too. What is that reason? Let’s find out.
Actually, the dough prepared for a bagel is tucker than other breeds. So, it takes time to cook, especially at the center part. Without the hole, the heat cannot reach the center part of the bread easily.
It stays less cooked in the middle and over-cooked at the outer surface. Besides, the outer part of the bagel is crisp and yummy. When the bread gets more surface at the outer part, it gets more chances of even heating. It can cook bagels perfectly.
So, it is proved that the hole of the bagel is necessary to cook it correctly, and it is one reason for the distinctive taste of the chewy crust. Actually, this chewy crust makes the bagel special. Soy, the cooking process demands the hole at the center of the bagel, not only the tradition or history.
Bagel Hole Made It Easy to Sell
There were some ways to hold the bagels by the vendors that needed this bagel hole. In old times, vendors kept the bagels by threading them on a long pole and carrying the pole in the market like that.
It was a different way to sell the bagels on the street. It is said that the holes of the bagels are still there to keep this tradition intact. It means that the bagel holes show the practice of old times which is a tradition, when they were sold hung on a pole.
There is also another history in 1970 of selling the bagels after threading them in rope. This system helped vendors supply the bagels to delis and markets all over the city. This system was run for a long time till the modern packaging and food handling system and strict regulations were begun.
So, all these explanations proved that there are huge matters and history behind the hole of a bagel. The bagel hole is not just a hole, and it is something more.
Bagel is a unique bread type that is popular all over the world. It is also popular in the USA with cheese on top. But why is there a hole in a bagel? Many people do not understand the facts and history of the unique shape of the bagel.
There is a difference in the cooking process too. This special bread type is widespread and could replace other pastries types too. So, know the reasons and history behind the bagel hole and enjoy the unique taste.