Tag Archives: water bagels

Context and Bagels


I was talking to my roommate earlier tonight and mentioned people saying that bagels were fattening. We talked about it for a while, and neither of us was able to think of why bagels, of all baked goods, would be particularly fattening. Full of carbs? Yes. Low in fiber? Sure. But where was the fat coming from?

I started asking around on Twitter, and @TwinnerCat chimed in. Bagels used to be made with lard – okay, but “used to be” in what sense, that we would have heard this said in our lifetimes? That there would have been a time when it was so widely used that its absence was noted so strongly? While I waited for an answer, I looked for a recipe for bagels that used lard.

bagelsWere the bagels being fried in lard? Was lard somehow mixed into the dough? Because if it was, wouldn’t that result in something more like pastry?

Digression: A few weekends ago, my mom and I made cookies; I accidentally dropped the sugar in with the dry ingredients instead of beating it into the wet ones (including butter). What resulted was a cakey, floury thing, kind of like a scone. Instead of a cookie. The order you mix things in matters. 

A look at this recipe showed that the lard is not used the same way as it would be in a pie crust, where it’s mixed in with the dry ingredients. Interesting. It reminded me of the cookies. The order things were mixed in mattered, because a bagel does not taste like a pie crust.

Back to the original thought: bagels stopped being made with lard at the same time “they banned saturated fats.”

A ban on trans-fats seems to have arrived in America in 2007. This intersects with my last year in Edinburgh (I say, by way of excusing why I didn’t notice). By 2011, a BMJ (British Medical Journal) study recommended a global ban on goods high in saturated fats as a first step towards preventing cardiovascular disease.

But “they,” in this case, and according to Wikipedia, are the Food and Drug Administration, which makes the ban sound more like a labeling requirement. I’ll need to look further into this if obtaining lard for the cooking experiment becomes a problem, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it in specialty shops around NYC, so I don’t think things will get to that point.

If it does, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

Same thing for the baking project.

PS – Here’s someone else’s bagel-baking adventure. Enjoy.