Sure, bagels have ruled for more than a century in New York City and Montreal. But it wasn’t until the 1970s, when Lender’s started selling them nationwide in groceries, that the circular bread and accompanying spreads became universal at tables across the country.
Bagel making has, depending on which culinary historian you ask, roots among Jewish people in eastern Europe or Arabic origins.
It is the rare bread that’s first boiled in water—which helps firm the exterior—before it’s baked. Chewy and slightly sweet from the addition of malted barley flour (sometimes sugar, fruit, or honey too), bagels are endlessly versatile.
Berries, chocolate chips, jalapeños, and other flavorings are sometimes added to the dough. Or the exterior can be coated in coarse salt, garlic, sesame seeds, or poppy seeds. The combination of seeds and flavorings that top the “everything” bagels is the latest “it” seasoning for—you guessed it—everything.
Schmears have spread beyond simple cream cheese to a variety of sweet and savory—sometimes even spicy—accompaniments.
Some consider bagels the perfect hand-sized bread for sandwiches. The classic filling is lox, salmon that’s cured but not smoked. But just about anything works, especially breakfast favorites like eggs with bacon, ham, or sausage.
Fresh-made bagels are available from local bakeries throughout Alabama, some even via delivery. Here’s where to find Alabama’s best bagels.