A bagel is a type of bread, shaped into a ring with a hole in the middle, in which the dough is typically boiled in water and then baked. Many historians believe the food originated in Poland in the 1600s, and bagels were common in the United States by the late 1800s when Jewish immigrants brought them over. As bagels became more popular throughout the 20th century, some inventors sought out ways to produce them in large quantities. Small bakeries and large production companies in the 21st century often use a bagel machine to produce as many as thousands of the food delicacies an hour.
Bakers typically use a bagel machine in which the unshaped dough is loaded. The dough is usually cut and then formed into the ring-shape, and some machines can also gauge the desired size and weight of the bagel as well. Rollers are often used in the shaping process. In some devices, the cutting blades can be adjusted for specific bagel sizes, depending on the requirements of the order.
A bagel machine can be designed for producing high volumes of product, but still be suitable for use by a small business. It sometimes includes a scale mechanism to make sure each bagel in a batch weighs the same. Features that are often desired are sealed components to reduce maintenance, while some systems use no oil that can leak into the dough. Many bagel machines have conveyor belts that can move the dough to the rollers for processing. Some systems have more complex vertical and horizontal conveyors and connect to computer systems that can help monitor and control production.
Gears, electronic clutches for dough feeding, as well as wheels are included in some bagel machine types. Many of them also have parts for adjusting the shape and size of the dough if it is not right. The first bagel machine was invented in the 1960s. A time meter was used on many of the early machines so companies that leased them out could charge bagel makers by each dozen of bagels produced.
Businesses now often have their own production machinery to output enough bagels to meet demand. In addition to baking bagels, these companies can also specialize in different varieties and spreads that go along with the foods. They often add bagel toppings such as sesame or poppy seeds, as well as cinnamon and raisins, for a wider selection.