What Is a Multigrain Bagel?

C. Mitchell

A multigrain bagel is a round bread product that is made from a wheat dough containing multiple grains. Bulgar, graham, and buckwheat are common grain additions, as are oats and seeds such as millet. These grains are typically ground into the flour, but may appear as small flecks or particles. Most of the time, a multi-grain bagel is more nutritious than one made simply from wheat flour.

Buckwheat is commonly found in multigrain bagels.
Buckwheat is commonly found in multigrain bagels.

Bagels are a ubiquitous bakery product in many parts of the world, particularly throughout Europe and North America. Traditionally, they are made with standard wheat flour. Adding other grains lends a more complex taste, and often leads to a denser end product, as well. Cooks will sometimes use grains based on availability, but often add them for health purposes.

A multigrain bagel is a round bread product that is made from a wheat dough.
A multigrain bagel is a round bread product that is made from a wheat dough.

The designation “multigrain” indicates that a bagel has been made with multiple different grains, usually at least two in addition to wheat. Many of these grains carry significant nutritive benefits, particularly in terms of fiber and essential minerals. For this reason, it is commonly perceived that a multigrain bagel is more healthful than a standard wheat bagel. This is sometimes true, but not always.

Much of the healthfulness of a food is determined by how many nutrients it contains. The benefits of grain usually only come across when it appears in whole form — that is, not sifted or processed before use. A multigrain bagel is not necessarily a whole grain bagel. Consumers concerned about the healthfulness of their food should scrutinize labels carefully to be sure about what exactly a product contains. Most of the time, as long as a bagel contains some parts of various grains, it can be labeled “multigrain.”

In nearly all cases, the multigrain aspect of a bagel concerns only the flour. As such, a multigrain bagel is essentially a plain bagel, just with a more substantial base. These varieties often have a nuttier, richer texture, but not really any flavor of their own. It is not uncommon to find bagel flavors such as cinnamon raisin paired with a multigrain base. Adding savory ingredients like onion or cheese is also popular, as is seeding finished bagels with poppy seeds or sesame seeds.

Multigrain bagel varieties are typically as common at breakfast as they are at lunch or as a snack. Much depends on the additional ingredients. Bagel sandwich varieties are usually either plain or savory, while breakfast choices are often on the sweeter side. Multigrain bagel toppings and bagel spreads are usually driven by the favors added in.

Making bagels usually follows the same process for all varieties, multigrain or not. The most authentic way to make bagels is by hand: cooks twist the dough into a cord that is then formed into a loop. Commercial manufacturing generally makes use of molds to ensure a more uniform product. Once formed, the dough rings are usually quickly boiled, then baked, resulting in a distinctive crunchy crust. Multigrain bagel varieties usually have a slightly darker color than those made with traditional white flour.

Multigrain bagels are sometimes baked with cheddar or Asiago cheese.
Multigrain bagels are sometimes baked with cheddar or Asiago cheese.

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