Boiled Bagels vs. Steamed – How to SPOT the Difference

    While the bagel has seen many incarnations since the Middle Ages in Poland, one key constant remains the traditional process of boiling the raw bagels before baking them. At SPOT Bagel, this time-honored step is the 6th step in our 8-step artisan production process.  Here’s how to tell the difference between boiled and steamed bagels:
    1. Shine and Shape
      Boiled bagels have a shiny golden crust from being bathed in boiling water whereas steamed bagels have a dull, dry finish. The shape of a boiled bagel is round because it’s baked on both sides, while a steamed bagel is usually elliptical and flat on the bottom as it’s not turned over in the baking process.

    2. Inside and Out
      If you cut a boiled bagel in half, you should see two distinct textures, a crispy crust from boiling and a soft, chewy, dense crumb on the inside. You should be able to pull the skin (crust) apart from the crumb.

      The texture of a steamed bagel is its biggest giveaway. It is fluffier – more like bread or even cake. While some people prefer this (and hey, it’s your choice), all of us at SPOT believe that following tradition helps create a truly great bagel.

    3. Toppings
      The best boiled bagels usually have toppings on both sides of the bagel. After boiling, bagels are placed on aluminum boards covered in wet jute (burlap). The toppings are applied to the jute, the wet bagels are gently placed on the jute, and then covered with more toppings.

      On the other hand, steamed bagels have toppings applied to the raw dough before they enter the steam injection oven. Most often, the toppings are inexpensive and dehydrated, unlike the fresh and organic toppings we use at SPOT.

    From mixing rich and unique ingredients right in the dough, to boiling, to thoughtfully preparing and liberally applying  toppings, we aim to deliver a “real” bagel: one that will satiate your palette and gratify your soul. Decide for yourself if “an unboiled bagel is just a roll with a hole”…check out one of our sumptuous flavors near you!


    Liz Roberts
    SPOT Bagel Blogging Babe
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    Lauren’s Log: Inside SPOT Bagel Bakery's First Months

    Hey bagel lovers, this is the start of my new “Lauren’s Log” series. I’ll be sharing what’s going on “behind the curtain” at SPOT’s bakery from my perspective as a baker. I intend to reveal a lot…maybe too much…including how we’re obsessed with crafting delicious bagels, staff food fights, and even gossiping about who got locked in the walk-in refrigerator. Hope you find this interesting. Please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what’s on your mind.

    I have a history of working with new restaurants and businesses, but while I enjoy the problem-solving and getting my hands dirty, the overwhelming hard work in SPOT’s first months felt like sheer insanity. Everyone was forced to jump in and help out with everything from production to development, marketing, and even cleaning (everyone’s favorite task, of course).  We were all working frantically and so sleep deprived that you can imagine some of our slap-happy times in the bakery. 

    Of course we took our bagels seriously, but we also enjoyed exploding bags of blue cornmeal all over each other (I had an aura of blue dust around me like Pig-Pen from Peanuts), found a claustrophobic trainee locked in a walk-in refrigerator that had no lock, and made lots of sticky messes with 50 pound buckets of with molasses, barley malt, and honey. When it came to water, we were really out of control; an overflowing kettle, out of control water hoses spraying chaotically, and powerful streams of water ricocheting in the general direction of my face. For the record, I’m a big advocate of water conservation, but at the time we were all pretty klutzy.

    Now let me advise you on running a bakery. If you aren’t a glutton for punishment, save yourself the trouble and just deprive yourself of sleep for three days, put on a hair net, jump in the shower fully clothed, dust yourself with a few pounds of flour, roll in honey, and sprinkle on some poppy seeds for good measure.

    I hope you enjoy the bagels we’ve worked so hard on!
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