Ears of wheat along with a small pile of wheat kernels (also known as wheat kernels).
Whole-grain bagels are available in stores, as well as bagels and some coffee shops and cafes. For those interested in healthy eating, whole wheat bagels are often a good choice. However, a whole wheat bagel is not always easy to recognize. A true whole-wheat bagel is a type of bagel made from 100% whole-wheat flour, gets its dark color from whole-wheat bran instead of additives, and has a dense, gritty texture.
Understanding what a whole wheat bagel is starts with understanding what a bagel is. All bagels are circular, yeast-risen rolls with a dense, chewy texture and a shiny, crispy crust. The shiny, pretzel-like crust comes from the alkaline wash traditionally applied before cooking. Bagels are often sliced before sale so the consumer can top them with cream cheese, jam, smoked salmon or other spreads. They can also be used to make sandwiches.
Lox is commonly served on a bagel with cream cheese.
Real whole wheat bagels are made from 100% whole wheat flour. Due to the growing interest in whole-grain products, manufacturers sometimes try to make their products look like whole-wheat bagels when they really aren’t. The phrase “made with whole grains,” which appears on many packaged bagels, is not a reliable marker. Instead, the savvy consumer should read the ingredients list. If “enriched flour” appears, it means the bagels were made with some refined flours and are not whole wheat bagels.
Whole wheat bagels get their brown hue from the bran in whole wheat flour.
A whole-wheat bagel is a bagel that gets its dark color from the bran present in whole-wheat flour. The bran – the part of the whole wheat grain that contains most of the grain’s fiber – is naturally light to dark brown in color. Thus, bagels made with 100% whole wheat will appear darker than bagels made with refined flour. It is important to check the ingredients of packaged bagels. Some manufacturers add molasses or caramel color to artificially darken their products.
Whole wheat bagels also have a denser, grittier texture than their refined flour counterparts. When whole-grain dough is made, the sharp edges of the grain bran cut through the fibers of the dough. This slightly inhibits the rise and gives the finished product a dense texture. Because the fiber in the bran is tough, bagels made from whole wheat flour also have a slightly gritty flavor. Many people – especially health enthusiasts or those used to homemade bread – find this texture appealing.