What Is a Cheese Bagel?

Sonal Panse

Chewy, round bagels are amongst the most well-known bread varieties around the world, and are sold either freshly baked or in frozen forms. Traditionally a part of Jewish cuisine, bagels were first created by the Jewish community in Krakow, Poland. The original bagels were simple and plain, made without any bagel spreads or bagel toppings. Now there are many different bagel flavors and varieties, and the cheese bagel is a popular choice amongst these. The cheese bagel can come in different varieties of cheeses and also with sesame seeds, poppy seeds and other bagel toppings.

A cheese bagel may be topped wiht poppy seeds.
A cheese bagel may be topped wiht poppy seeds.

The cheese bagel may be made by hand or by machine; it is more common nowadays to use a machine for making bagels, but many bagel outlets also offer hand-made options. The basic ingredients for making bagels include wheat flour, yeast, water, sugar and salt. The ingredients are mixed together and kneaded well to form a smooth dough, and the dough is then covered with a damp cloth and set aside for over 10 hours until it has risen and doubled in size. The dough is then divided into small sections that are shaped into circles with a hole made in the center. The central hole helps facilitate the baking process and traditionally also made it easier for the bagel vendors to carry the bagels around, strung together on a string or on a stick.

Cheese bagel sandwiches are often filled with slices of ham and cheese.
Cheese bagel sandwiches are often filled with slices of ham and cheese.

The bagel dough sections are then placed on greased paper in a tray and left to rise again at room temperature for several more hours. The bagels, once they have risen, are then boiled in sweetened water for a few minutes. They are next baked in an oven at a high temperature. Boiling and then baking bagels give them a chewy, crusty texture as well as a shiny surface glaze.

For a cheese bagel, the cheese is generally sprinkled on top of the bagels before they are baked. In the bagel sandwich varieties, the baked bagel is sliced in half and the cheese slices are placed in between, often along with other fillings like ham. The cheese bagel is then grilled until it is lightly roasted and the cheese has melted. It is best to eat to the cheese bagel while it is still warm. People watching their caloric intake may need to keep in mind that a cheese bagel can be high in calories.

Cheese bagels are sometimes baked with cheddar or Asiago cheese.
Cheese bagels are sometimes baked with cheddar or Asiago cheese.

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