The great sugarless changeover

The recipes i have been using for bagels have sugar. And it seems that bagels are known as a sweet bread. This has prompted two questions for me.

First, what was the sugar content back in the shetl when bagels were sold on street corners stacked on sticks? This is a question about ‘authenticity’ – what is a bagel? Some Montreal bagels you can see on You Tube have eggs, similar You Tube videos about New York bagels contain malt, nether of which i suspect were readily available in Lublin or Krakow or Vilnius.

But food travels and changes. So authenticity – unless you are trying to absolutely replicate the original recipe – for bagels in this case – does not seem pertinent. A bagel is a boiled-then-baked bread with a hole; its constituent parts are the subject of debate maybe even argument.

The second issue is more current. How can we produce food with less sugar and deliver health as well as environmental benefits:

An excess of sweetened foods and beverages can lead to weight gain, bloodsugar problems and an increased risk of heart disease, among other dangerous conditions.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/too-much-sugar

There are also wider environmental benefits:

Sugar cane is usually grown as a monoculture. Production in many countries has moved to marginal areas removing natural rainforests, mangroves and other sensitive environments, Cane sugar has been responsible for reduced wildlife biodiversity, polluted rivers and seas, eroded fertile soils, careless use of pesticides and fertilisers, poor management of irrigation, air pollution from burning cane, and damage to coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef. The processing of sugar cane has also been shown to be very polluting, especially in poorer countries.

https://www.sustainweb.org/foodfacts/sweet_and_sour/

So, two issues emerge. Removing the sugar from the bread is simple enough, though i am not sure about its impact on the fermentation process and the final taste and texture. This needs to be discovered.

In addition, baking commercially, the process in the bakery is designed to ensure the bagels are baked in a certain time, that a certain number fit on a tray and have a certain pre-bake weight. This seems to present a problem so that the recipe is adjusted to retain efficiency as well as for the correct water content levels

Wholemeal seeded bagel. No sugar!

Even so, I am going to work towards removing as much sugar as possible from most varieties so that by the end of the year there will be a sugarless set. And we already have one, which has already made a couple of outings to Beanies, though it needs some work.

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