The Jewish History of the Bagel and a homemade bagel recipe from our friends at!

posted by on Jan 15, 2020


Happy National Bagel Day! There’s no better way to celebrate than by learning about the Jewish history of the bagel and then checking out a delicious recipe from our friends at to see what all the fuss is about. 

In the 1600s, many European Jews were forbidden from joining professional guilds, meaning they could never be blacksmiths, masons, or bakers. It was very difficult to earn a good income outside of a guild, which made it difficult for European Jews to survive. 

However, Poland was more than happy to allow Jewish immigrants into their guilds, and this allowed Polish Jews to live a more prosperous life. The bagel was first documented around this time in Krakow, Poland, and famously prepared by Polish Jewish bakers to feed the entire kingdom! Bagels lasted longer than most breads because of their boiled, hardened exterior, which made them a popular staple of the Polish diet for centuries. 

The descendants of those Polish Jewish bakers eventually immigrated to the New World, first to New York and then to the rest of the country, and that’s how the delicious bagel made its way from Medieval Poland to our supermarket shelves today! 

Are you ready to learn how to make this inspiring, delectable treat? Below is a delicious bagel recipe courtesy of!

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • 1 medium potato
  • 2 cups water, or more
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Instant Dry Yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour  
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 egg whole plus 1 egg, separated
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
  • The toppings of your choice! 

Here’s what to do: 

  1. Peel the potato and cut into chunks. Put in a pot and cover with water, making sure that you use at least two cups of water, since some will evaporate with the cooking. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until the potato is soft. Measure out one cup of the water. Put the potatoes aside for lunch! Let the cup of potato water cool to lukewarm. Proof the yeast in 1/2 cup of the potato water with one and a half tablespoons of the sugar.
  2. Put the flour into the bowl of the mixer. Add the salt. Stir the yeast mixture into the flour. Add the whole egg, one egg white, remaining 1/2 cup of potato water, remaining sugar, and oil. Mix all together to make a firm dough, adding more flour if necessary. Knead for 8–10 minutes or until the dough springs back when touched. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, coat the top with a small amount of oil (or oil spray) to keep it from drying out, and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise until it is doubled, about one and a half hours. The dough is ready when you push it down with two fingers and the indentations remain. If they spring back, let it rise a bit longer.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring three quarts of water to boil in a large pot. 
  4. Punch down the dough and knead for two to three minutes. Cut into 14-15 pieces for medium-sized bagels, or 10 pieces for large bagels. Roll each piece into a rope about 7 inches long. Form each rope into a ring, moistening the ends if necessary, so that they stick when turned into each other. This is important if you want them to maintain the bagel shape. Let the rings stand about 10 minutes on a piece of Gefen Easy Baking Parchment sprayed with oil spray.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, slide each bagel into the pot of boiling water, being careful not to crowd them too much. Boil for two minutes on each side. Remove the bagels with the slotted spoon and place them on baking sheets, lined with parchment paper and sprayed with oil spray. Let them air dry for a few seconds.
  6. Mix the remaining egg yolk with the one teaspoon of water and glaze each bagel with a pastry brush. Dip them into toppings of your choice. 
  7. Bake for 20–25 minutes until golden brown. Cool. Store in plastic bags, as they harden quickly.