KANSAS CITY, MO. - Modern bagels rely on heavy duty flour. High-gluten flours have higher protein content, often running up to 16%. Yet the high-gluten flours used for producing bagels at One Mighty Mill run slightly under that level.

“Our bagels feel lighter because of the protein content we work with,” said Tony Rosenfeld, co-founder of One Mighty Mill, based in Lynn, Mass. “They are not quite as dense, but they have all the wonderful chew. I’m a bagel purist. Our goal is to work with the best whole grain possible.”

Rosenfeld loves to talk about wheat and its influence on flavor. One Mighty Mill bagels are available at Whole Foods Market and several other instore bakeries in the Northeast.

“For bagels, the signature is really the wheat,” he said. “We use high-gluten flour. That is pretty incredible stuff.”

Bagels are making a comeback in America, sidelined a bit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but coming on strong where customers appreciate the flavor and variety options available in a great bagel.

For instance, there are 72 bagel products available for purchase at the Wegmans Food Markets store in Fairfax, Va. The choices abound: everything bagels, blueberry, cinnamon raisin, sesame, multigrain, grains and seeds, bagel thins, and even mini cheese pizza bagels. The bagel category has matured but is now making a comeback on the whole grain express.

Mitch Stamm, vice chairman of The Bread Bakers Guild of America and instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., said the bagel is not just a barrier between toppings and your fingers, it’s the cornerstone of a sandwich – and many a meal.

“Unlike anyone I’ve ever met, I’m inclined, if not compelled, to ponder the hole,” Stamm wrote. “Without the hole, it’s a meaningless lump, Without the hole, the bagel would not boil and bake with great attributes.”

And a bagel sandwich begins with a bagel, he continues, “a sturdy bagel with a dominant, but not cheeky, chew. A bagel with a glimmering, lustrous sheen. A bagel with an initial burst of malty sweetness followed by a lasting, clean finish of toasted cereal. A bagel with texture and flavor so transportive that you feel the midnight baker’s soul. A bagel with attitude. A bagel that bites back.”

One Mighty Mill

Jon Olinto and Rosenfeld, co-founders of One Mighty Mill, discovered that farmers wanted to grow healthy wheat again – without pesticides and with sustainable crop rotations that build strong soil. As one example, they work with Matt and Sara Williams, who harvest hundreds of acres of organic wheat in Linneus, Maine. In the mill’s first year of business in 2019, they purchased more than 220,000 pounds of organically grown grains from partner farmers in Maine.

Further, One Mighty Mill commissioned a mill from Andrew Heyn, the only stone mill builder in the United States, so they could stone-grind organic wheat into the fresh, nutritious, flavorful flour. The mill is located at their flagship bakery in Lynn, Mass., a community they are helping revitalize.

“We supported our farmers’ transition to organic by investing in over 120,000 pounds of transitional wheat grown by our partners in Maine,” he explained. “In turn, we helped them convert almost 100 acres of their fields to certified organic in time for this year's harvest in September 2020. We dream of building more local mills in communities across America.”

The company’s AP Flour contains 11% protein, the standard for all-purpose flour, while its bread flour checks in at 13% protein, the norm for bread flour. Because their flour is packed with fresh germ and bran, customers might not get quite the same lift in baked goods as with conventional, but that should be the only slight difference in the finished product (and a whole lot more flavor).   

One Mighty Mill produces three types of bagels: whole wheat everything, whole wheat cinnamon raisin, and whole wheat plain.

“The one thing you may want to tweak when using our flour in a recipe is the amount of hydration or liquid – water, milk or fat (in the form of eggs, oil or butter),” he said. “The coarse texture of OMM’s flour and its abundance of germ and bran can sponge up liquid. Be prepared to add a splash of water if a bread or pizza dough looks dry towards the end of mixing. And you can add another pat of butter to a cookie recipe or another teaspoon of oil to a quick bread at the onset.”

By securing organic wheat from Aurora Farms in Maine and building its own stone-grinding mill in Lynn to make its products, One Mighty Mill started the revolution against processed flour, according to Whole Foods Market. After only one year since the company’s launch, One Mighty Mill’s growth has been incredible. One Mighty Mill packaged bagels and tortillas are available in Whole Foods bakery departments, as well as fresh milled flour, pancake mix and bagged whole grain pretzels exclusive to Whole Foods Market on the shelves of grocery aisles.

Retail response

Einstein Bros. Bagels is looking to spice up its menu with a partnership with Beyond Meat, a leader in plant-based meat, for a test run of Beyond Breakfast Sausage at three Denver area locations. Starting July 16, the test features the new plant-based Beyond Sausage Spicy Sunrise egg sandwich. The new flavor-packed breakfast sandwich features a 100% plant-based Beyond Breakfast Sausage patty on a fresh-baked Green Chile Gourmet Bagel with cage-free eggs, avocado, melty cheddar cheese and Jalapeño Salsa shmear.

“We wanted to create a menu item that will make your mouth water, so we turned up the heat,” said Chef Chad Thompson, head of culinary innovation at Einstein Bros. Bagels. “We think customers will agree that the Beyond Sausage Spicy Sunrise isn’t your average plant-based sandwich.”

Customers at these Denver area locations will also have the limited-time option to substitute Beyond Breakfast Sausage on any Einstein Bros. Bagels sandwich, giving people even more plant-based options.

“As consumer interest around plant-based meat continues to grow, we’re thrilled to team up with Einstein Bros. Bagels to test our Beyond Breakfast Sausage in the Denver area,” said Stuart Kronauge, chief marketing officer for Beyond Meat. “At Beyond Meat, we’re on a mission to make delicious, nutritious and sustainable plant-based meat accessible to all, and partnerships with innovative brands like Einstein Bros. Bagels are an important part of that journey.”

From Wegmans to Whole Foods Market, today’s instore bakeries are celebrating all that is great in the fresh bakery category, and authentic bagels are enjoying a renaissance as a result.

Previously, Whole Foods identified “Flour Power” as one of its top 10 trends for 2020. As seasoned and amateur bakers alike look to scratch a creative itch in the kitchen, an array of interesting flours are entering the market making baking more inclusive and adventurous. 2020 will bring more interesting fruit and vegetable flours into home pantries, with products like cauliflower flour in bulk and baking aisles, rather than already baked into crusts and snack products.

Consumer packaged goods are getting in on the trend by replacing traditional alternative flours with tigernut flour in chips and snack foods, and tasty pastries made with seed flour blends. As consumers look for more ways to boost their bake, “super” flours delivering protein and fiber join the trend. 

Local connections

Whole Foods Market’s new location in Tysons Corner, Va., opened in October 2019, featuring thousands of items from local suppliers including Poppy’s Stuffed Bagels in Washington, D.C.

“We look forward to providing the community – including residents and those coming through the transportation hub of Tysons Corner – with access to an expansive selection of fresh and innovative offerings,” said Carl DePree, Whole Foods Market store team leader.

Poppy’s Stuffed Bagels puts a modern twist on the classic bagel, even though they prepare bagels the traditional way. They are boiled and baked, and then handcrafted with cream cheeses using fresh and local ingredients to create creative fillings.

Co-founder Grant Sarvis spent many weekends searching Washington, D.C. for the perfect bagel bite. In May 2016, they made their first bagel and were hooked. In the following months, Julia’s kitchen was perpetually covered in flour as they perfected the recipes. It was Grant who had the idea to make stuffed bagel holes, and Poppy’s Stuffed Bagels was born.

Spreading the bagel love

New York City’s legendary H&H Bagels supplies iconic bagels to local New York businesses, as well as national and regional distribution partners. H&H Bagels is a SQF-certified manufacturing facility.

H&H Bagels offers two programs to wholesale customers:

  • Local Fresh 365 Program. H&H Bagels delivers freshly baked bagels 365 days a year to all of New York City, southern Westchester County, and northern New Jersey.
  • National Wholesale Program. H&H Bagels has partnered with trusted national and regional distributors to bring popular bagels to wholesale customers across the nation. The company’s national wholesale program has grown across the United States and Puerto Rico through partnerships with national distributors: Chefs’ Warehouse, Gourmet Foods International, and KeHe along with our regional distributors: Ace Endico, Carmela Foods, A&H Quality Foods, Southern Deli Provisions, and SeaWorld.

The original H&H went out of business in 2012, but the company has since been revived, with retail locations on the east and west sides of Manhattan, as well as LaGuardia and JFK Airports. Several years ago, H&H decided to launch a national wholesale business, selling six packs of its bagels that are offered fresh or in frozen food sections. Its biggest customers include Amazon Fresh, and Central Market stores in Texas, In the Detroit area, H&H products can be found at Busch’s Fresh Food Market and Plum Market stores.

This story was featured in the September edition of Supermarket Perimeter. Click here to view the whole issue