Bagels are ubiquitous across the world and come in many shapes, sizes and tastes. To make a bagel, wheat dough is typically kneaded and shaped into one long section, then joined at either end, leaving the distinctive hole on the middle. A sesame bagel is simply a traditional bagel with sesame seeds scattered liberally on the surface, sometimes boiled in sweetened water, and then baked in an oven.
Originally from Poland, bagels have been around for hundreds of years. At that time they were called bajgiels, and the chewy treat soon found itself part of the Polish people’s staple diet. Wheat dough is most commonly used when cooking a sesame bagel, but dough such as rye, pumpernickel and sourdough are sometimes used as well. Initially rolled and formed by hand, bagel production has come a long way with machines now able to generate thousands of bagels an hour.
Sesame seeds come from the sesame plant and have been used for seasoning food for thousands of years, dating back to the Assyrians. The pods are rich in oils and known for their distinctive nutty flavor. In fact, some studies claim them to be one of the first seasonings ever used. The tiny sesame seeds are known to be high in calcium, iron, and vitamin E amongst other nutrients. Although some people are allergic to sesame seeds, there are many studies that point to their cholesterol lowering and anti-cancer properties.
Sesame bagels are relatively simple to make at home, but can take a bit of time to prepare and cook. Flour is usually mixed together with eggs and other ingredients to create soft and pliable dough. The mixture is kneaded for a few minutes until smooth in consistency then covered with a cloth and allowed to rise. The dough is then shaped and cut into the traditional bagel shape and boiled in a sweetened water solution. The bagel is brushed with egg, topped with sesame seeds, and then baked for up to 50 minutes in an oven.
A sesame bagel can also be produced by steam injection method. This is done in an oven that has been specially manufactured with a steam injection device. This process eliminates the boiling step and is considered to be less labor intensive. As a result, the steam method is often employed in commercial bagel-making operations. The sesame bagel remains as popular as ever, and in 2008, a Canadian astronaut actually spirited 18 sesame seed bagels up to the International Space Station.