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Best Bagel Bakeries in St. Louis Missouri


How would you like to have a big boiled doughnut for breakfast? Without the sugar and the glaze and all of that nasty frying oil. If that sounds a little bland, then you’re allowed to add some toppings, some fruit, or maybe a little cream cheese. It doesn’t matter if you spread the stuff on top or put it inside. And then, of course, it has to have texture and ta’am, which is Hebrew for taste.

The story goes that the first bagel was made around 1683 in Poland of all places. Seems that the king of Poland had just fought off the Turkish invaders that were poised to invade Austria. To honor the king, an Austrian baker took a ball of yeast dough and formed it into the shape of a stirrup, as the good king was very fond of riding his horse. The baker called the yeasty treat a “beugel” which is the Austrian word for stirrup.

Immigrant Jews brought the bagel to New York from Europe in the early 1900’s. They sold the bagels on the streets by stacking them on a stick, making them easier to carry. Then, in 1927, Harry Lender opened the first bagel factory. The bagel remained pretty much a regional specialty all the way up until the 1960’s when a guy named Thompson invented a bagel-making machine that could produce hundreds of them in an hour.

A little bagel making 101: Bagels consist of flour, water, yeast, and malt. It’s the process by which they are made that makes them special. First, the ingredients are mixed and water is added. Then the dough is divided into portions and shaped. After it has been allowed to rise, it is then “kettled.” This is the all-important step that makes a bagel a bagel. When a bagel is “kettled” it is dropped into a huge vat of boiling water for a few minutes. After boiling, the bagels are baked in a very hot oven. A lot of the cheap, mass-produced bagels that you find in the supermarket are just baked in a steam oven and they don’t have that unique texture that sets them apart from other baked goods.

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So, now that you know everything about the origins and art of bagel making, where can you get an authentic, decent bagel in St. Louis? Here are a couple of good suggestions:

Companion Bakery makes all kinds of great, delicious craft breads as well as bagels in its south city bakery. They are available at all of the Dierberg’s and most of the Schnuck’s supermarket locations. They can also be had at the company’s Bakehouse in Clayton and at numerous restaurants, schools, hospitals, and other locations throughout the city. They are called Sophie’s Bagels after the owner’s two-year-old daughter and they are the vat boiled real deal.

Pratzel’s Bakery is located in University City. They have been around in St. Louis for some 93 years now. Pratzel’s Bagels can be found in some Dierberg’s stores as well as most of the kosher delis around town. They boil, drain, seed, and bake some 350 dozen bagels daily.