This weekend was the first time I decided to trek above 14th Street to visit David's Bagels on 1st Avenue near 19th Street in Manhattan, and my first encounter with a flat bagel, or "flagel." I was a regular at the David's Bagel location on 1st Avenue between 13th and 14th Street (sadly, it closed at the end of August), but had never seen flat bagels offered there.
Curious, I had to learn more about this crunchier species of bagel. Like, how does a flagel get so flat? First it helps to know a little bit about bagel preparation. Bagel dough is mixed and kneaded, then shaped into a bagel. The bagels are then proofed for at least 12 hours before boiling for a few minutes, and finally finished in the oven. It's this process that produces a bagel's (or flagel's) shiny, crispy exterior and tender interior. A phone call to David's Bagels confirmed my hunch—a flagel is a bagel that's flattened after it's been boiled and before it goes into the oven.
According to Village Voice food critic Robert Seitsema, the flagel was born in Brooklyn at Tasty Bagels in the early nineties amidst the low-carb diet craze. I suspect that more than one flagel creation story may exist, as with the multiple origins of the everything bagel, but we'll stick with Tasty Bagels' version for now.
And to be clear, you are not necessarily eating less bagel when you eat a flagel. We weighed two bagels from David's, a flagel and a regular bagel—both were 5.6 ounces.
Bagel or flagel, which do you prefer? Any flagel sightings outside of New York? We confirmed that flagels can be found in Delray Beach, Florida at Way Beyond Bagels (map). Any others where you live?
331 1st Avenue, New York NY (b/n 19th and 20th Streets; map)