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Bagel Vs English Muffin – What’s The Difference?

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Bagels and English muffins are both popular breakfast snacks that are served all over the world. They might look slightly different but both of these flour-based products have a lot of similarities and a few key differences as well!

Bagel Vs English Muffin, what is the difference? Bagels are donut-shaped bread products that are leavened with yeast and made using typical bread ingredients. English muffins are made with flour, milk, butter, eggs, and more. English muffins have more in common with cake than with bread! 

Read below to learn more about bagels and English muffins, how they are similar, how they differ, and how to make each of them at home! 

All About Bagels 

Bagels are hugely popular in America but are interestingly a polish invention that was brought to North America and popularized by Jewish immigrants in the 19th century. 

These bread products look like unglazed donuts more than anything else. They have a similar hole in the middle and were once famously sold on the streets by either being hung or stacked on a pole.

Bagels are made using simple bread ingredients. The humble bagel consists of water, yeast, flour, salt, and sugar. The resulting dough can even be used to make many types of flatbreads too!

Compared to other bread products, bagels can be quite dense and are also calorie-packed. On average, a large bagel will typically contain about 250 calories, most of which are just carbs. 

Perhaps the best way to enjoy a bagel is with cream cheese and various other toppings. Of course, this also increases the total calorie count of this delicious breakfast treat!

Bagel Toppings

Here are just a few common toppings for bagels:

  • Peanut butter or almond butter with sliced bananas
  • Jam and chia seeds
  • Smoked salmon
  • Cream cheese
  • Lox and capers
  • Sliced cheese and sun-dried tomatoes
  • Hummus and cucumbers

There are a lot more combinations that you can try with bagels.

Again, since this is just a differently shaped bread product, it can be mixed with just about any ingredient that goes with bread. Yes, that includes making meat-heavy bagel sandwiches too!

Bagels are usually served fresh from the oven but can also be stored for up to 2-3 days at room temperature.

They can also be stored in the fridge for a slightly longer time. To freshen up the bagel, simply toast it in the oven and enjoy it while it is warm!

Here’s a quick recipe for making bagels:

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of sifted bread flour
  • 2 3/4 teaspoon of yeast
  • 1 ½ cup warm water (100°F)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon salt

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, add the yeast, sugar, and warm water and wait for about 1-2 minutes. Then add the salt and whisk together. 
  2. Gradually add the flour, a little bit at a time while mixing the ingredients. Do this until a dough forms. Then you can either use a mechanical dough mixer or your hands to mix the dough.
  3. Knead the dough for no more than a few minutes and then cover it with a towel and let it rise for about 90 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into small pieces and then give them a round shape. Punch a hole in the middle of the dough by either using your hands or a small rounded object (like a shot glass). 
  5. Boil water in a large pot and dunk the unbaked bagels for about 1 minute on each side. Boiling the bagels will help them retain their shape while baking and will also seal in the moisture so that the exterior is a bit firm but the interior of the bagel is soft and a bit airy.
  6. Apply an egg wash on each side of the bagel and bake them at 350°F for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Move them out of the oven once baked and let them rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Slice the bagel in half and apply any topping of your choice!

English Muffins

As mentioned, English muffins are more like cakes than bread because they share a lot of similar ingredients. 

These breakfast treats popped up during the 10th century in Wales but were introduced into the USA as late as the 18th to 19th century!

A British immigrant by the name of Samuel Bath Thomas was credited for selling these delicious snacks in New York under the brand name “Nooks & Crannies”. 

But perhaps this tasty snack reached its full potential in the 1970s when McDonald’s launched its breakfast menu with the Egg McMuffin at the center.

The Egg McMuffin was revolutionary and was one of the things that helped skyrocket the demand for English muffins in North America.

A typical English muffin is made using water, yeast, flour, butter, milk, salt, sugar, and egg. You might have noticed that these ingredients are similarly used to make the base of any typical cake batter too

English muffins have an airier texture. The air bubbles and crevasses inside it allow for spreads and liquids to soak in, allowing it to be both lighter and porous! It is also slightly buttery and tangy in flavor.

Compared to bagels, English muffins may look the same, except that they don’t have a hole in the middle. Visually, English muffins resemble crumpets but are breadier thanks to the added flour and egg in the dough.

English Muffin Toppings

English muffins can similarly be enjoyed with a range of toppings and sides. While you can easily use the same toppings as bagels, English muffins are best enjoyed with spreads, cheese, and even some lean meat!

Here are a few common toppings for English muffins:

  1. Fruit preserves and butter
  2. Cottage cheese
  3. Lean meats
  4. Eggs
  5. Peanut butter

Here is a quick comparison between bagels and English muffins:

Type Of BreadBagelsEnglish Muffins
ShapeDonut shapedRound and flat
FlavorBread-like, slightly sweet, and saltyButtery and cake-like but less sweet
SizeLarge, 6 inchesSmall, 3-4 inches
Best Served WithCream cheese, smoked salmon, lox, capersPeanut butter, fruit preserves, butter, eggs
Made WithFlour, sugar, salt, yeast, and waterFlour, sugar, water, yeast, butter, milk, and salt
OriginPolandWales
Nutrition250 calories120 calories

Looking for a fool-proof English muffin recipe? Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 ounce of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup of melted shortening
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

Instructions

  1. Begin by warming milk to about 100°F (not over) and then add the yeast and sugar to the milk. Give it a gentle whisk and set the mixture aside for about 2-3 minutes, or until frothy. 
  2. Add in the butter, egg, and milk and whisk until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift salt and flour and then gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet batter. 
  3. Keep adding the dry ingredients until a dough starts to form. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes and then cover it with a towel and let it rise for at least 1-2 hours. 
  4. Divide the risen dough into equal parts and then form rounded dough balls. Press down on the balls to give them a flat top and bottom. 
  5. Optionally toast the buns on a pan before moving them to an oven. Bake the English muffins for about 7-10 minutes at 350°F. 
  6. Take out the muffins and let them rest for about 3-5 minutes before slicing in half and serving them with any of your favorite toppings! 

Related Questions

Although bagels and English muffins are breakfast items, they can be enjoyed throughout the day! Now that you know how both of these snacks are different yet similar, here are some related questions!

How long do bagels and English muffins last?

If stored in an airtight container, both English muffins and bagels can last up to 1 week at room temperature.

Store-bought varieties may be able to survive longer due to the addition of preservatives. However, you must always inspect each product before consumption.

You can also refrigerate or freeze both products to extend their shelf-life but for the best experience, it is always better to eat them fresh! 

Do English muffins require an egg wash?

No. English muffins already contain eggs and do not require an egg wash as these are usually soft bread products. The muffins can be toasted, though.

The best way to toast them is to heat them in a non-stick pan with just a little bit of butter! 

Are bagels and English muffins vegan?

The simplest form of bagels, made using traditional ingredients is completely vegan but it would still be a good idea to check the back of the packaging for more information on store-bought bagels.

English muffins are traditionally not considered vegan as they contain butter, milk, and eggs.

But you can find several recipes online that use vegetable shortening and water instead of milk along with other vegan-friendly alternatives. 

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