Smoky Cheese Bagels
The other day, I was looking through the fridge for two reasons.
1. The last batch of my Banana Bread had run out, so I had to make the next few days worth of breakfast bread product for my husband
2. I’m getting ready to go back on the AIP diet, and wanted to take stock of what foods should be used up in the next few days.
A couple blocks of smoked cheese in the cheese drawer gave me the idea to make cheese bagels, and off we were!
These were no crappy “smoke flavoured” cheeses, though. These were proper cheeses, actually smoked - a cheddar and a gouda.
You know, cheeses that deserved to be properly honoured!
Smoky Cheese Bagels
While basic cheese bagels would have let them shine on their own, I decided that I wanted to layer the flavours, boosting and complexifying (I’ll veribify any word... even “verb”!) the flavours from the bread and the cheese.
After a bit of thought, I settled on using a shallot, some mustard powder, and smoked paprika.
As a note: You won’t really pick out “shallot”, “mustard”, or “paprika” in these bagels. I chose to use the flavours in small enough amounts to compliment - not compete with - the cheeses.
I CANNOT TELL YOU how amazing these smelled, baking. Unf.
I really miss gluten.
He loved them, and described them exactly as I’d planned them to be - complex, warm, unable to pin exactly what extra flavours he was tasting.
... Then he said
“Thanks for breakfast! How was your YOGURT?” with an evil grin on his face.
I ALMOST needed an alibi in that moment. He’s lucky he’s cute.
Anyway, here’s to made them - full recipe is at the bottom.
PS: Love the cutting board in the pictures? We made it, and have a tutorial on how to do so, here: How to Make a Log Cabin Style Cutting Board.
Start Your Yeast
The recipe starts out with sugar, yeast, and water. This is one of the most important parts of the recipe, so make sure it’s all in place!
- The water has to be warm, but not hot. You want to encourage the growth of the yeast, without killing it.
Cool water won’t “wake up” the yeast the way warm does, and it won’t rise as much / quickly.
Hot water will kill the yeast.
The sugar feeds the yeast.
Make sure to use yeast that has been properly stored and is fresh. Very old yeast doesn’t always work.
Anyway, you mix the three together and leave it for a few minutes, and this is what you should see:
When it’s all foamy like this, you’re good to go!
If your yeast doesn’t foam up in 10 minutes, something went wrong - either the water was too hot /not warm enough, or the yeast was no good.
No foam means start over again.
Make Your Bagel Dough
You can do this by hand, or - like I do - in a stand mixer.
However you do it, just mix together your flour, salt, mustard powder, smoked paprika, minced shallots, and foamy yeast water, until it’s well incorporated and relatively smooth.
Once it’s all together, you’ll knead the dough. This develops the gluten in the dough, making the dough soft, stretchy, and perfect.
In a stand mixer:
Affix a dough hook and just let it go on medium speed for about 7 minutes or so, until it’s smooth and stretchy.
I start timing once the mixing is done, and all of the extra flour has been “cleaned” off the mixer bowl:
Once the dough has come together - and you have all of the flour incorporated into it - dump it out on a clean work surface and knead it.
Basically, I’ll use the heels of my hands to push down and stretch the dough, fold it over, and repeat for about 15+ minutes.
It’s a great way to get out some anger, aggression, frustration, or ~feelings~ in general, but it is labourious... so I generally use the stand mixer!
Anyway, whichever way you go:
When it’s ready, it’ll be smooth and stretchy.
You can test readiness by pinching off a small bit of dough, flattening it a bit, and stretching it. If you can stretch it really thin without tearing, it’s done!
Add Your Cheese
Once the dough is ready, add your cheese and lightly knead it in.
You want it well incorporated, but not completely decimated.
Proof your Dough
“Proofing” is just letting the dough rise.
You’ll want a warm - not hot - area to do this.
As I tend to keep my house nice and cool, I generally cheat at this: I’ll turn the oven on for a few minutes to warm it up a bit, then turn it off and use it as a proofing oven.
Let it rise - undisturbed - until it’s doubled in volume. Give it a good 45 minutes - 1 hour for this, but don’t leave it much longer than that without checking on it.
OVERproofing the dough - letting it rise too long / too far - will result in deflated dough, and hockey puck bagels.
Once your initial proofing is done, punch it down and divide it out.
Forming Your Bagels
Punching the dough down removes some of the air, so it’s easier to work with.
From there, you’ll divide it out to relatively-equal portions.
I usually go with 6 for nice big bagels, but you can do 8 if you’d like them more grocery-store-sized.
Once they’re divided out, smooth them out into balls.
I’ll usually smooth it all out towards the edges, and tuck everything under.
When it comes to making them bagel shaped, there are two main methods:
1. Roll each lump of dough into a thick “snake” and secure the ends together
2. Roll each lump into a smooth ball before poking a finger though. Once you have a hole made, stretch the ring of dough out a bit to enlarge the hole.
Personally, I prefer the latter, so that’s what’s pictured.
Let them rise for another 10 minutes, as you get things ready to proceed:
Prepare your Baking Sheet
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
If you like, you can scatter a layer of cornmeal on the parchment paper as well. This is totally optional, but gives a nice crunchy texture on the bottom of the bagel.
Set prepared pan aside.
This is also a good time to start preheating your oven.
Boil Your Bagels
As your bagels are rising for the second and final time, you’ll get ready to boil them.
Get a large pot of water boiling.
If you’re adding anything to the water (see variations, below), add it in and get that well incorporated before adding the bagels.
Once the water is boiling, turn the temp down enough to keep it at a gentle simmer.
You want to cook the outsides of the bagels gently, not brutalize them.
Once the water is simmering and 10 minutes are up, gently drop 2 or 3 bagels into your pot.
Allow them to cook for a minute, then gently flip them and allow them to cook for another minute.
Use a big slotted spoon to remove them from the water and allow them to drain well, before placing them on your prepared baking sheet.
Top Your Bagels
Whisk together your egg and water. This is an egg wash, and it gives a great texture and finish to the bagels - don’t skip it!
Brush the egg wash over as much of the bagels as are exposed. Tops and sides - you don’t need to flip them to get underneath, though.
If you’re doing plain bagels, they’re ready to go in the oven.
Finally, sprinkle the bagels with the remaining cheese.
Bake Your Bagels
Put your pan in the oven and bake until they’re golden brown.
Let them cool a LITTLE when you remove them... but otherwise, you can dig in while they’re still warm.
Enjoy fresh out of the oven, or let them cool and toast them later!
More “Capital B” Baking Recipes
Did the photo of the yeast growing in the measuring cup get to you? Oh, I love the smell of it. Anyway, if you’re looking for more excuses to bake something that involves waiting for rise times, here are a few more recipes!
Apple Cinnamon Buns
Basil, Roasted Red Pepper, & Asiago Bread Braid
Beer Pretzels & Jalapeno Jack Dip
Buffalo Chicken Buns
Chai Cinnamon Rolls
How to Make Bagels
Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Pretzel Bites
Maple Walnut Spiced Pumpkin Buns
Paska - Ukrainian Easter Bread
Rye Bagels with Caraway Seeds
Sauerkraut Balls - Pyrizhky
Seeded Whole Wheat Flax Bagels
Spinach Hand Pies
Strawberry Orange Rolls
Za'atar Manakish (With Cheese!)
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Smoky Cheese Bagels
- Measure warm water into a glass measuring cup or bowl. Stir in yeast and sugar, allow to stand for 10 minutes – it should get very bubbly.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, mustard, smoked paprika, and shallots. Pour in yeast mixture, stir well to combine.
- Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead until soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes.
- Once dough is fully kneaded, add in cheese , knead to distribute. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.
- Once dough has doubled, punch it down, and divide it out. We divided the mixture into 6 equally sized balls, for LARGE bagels – but you can make them smaller by dividing into 8 or 12 equal sized pieces.
- Preheat oven to 350F, and bring a large pot of water to a boil, while you form the bagels.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you're wanting to use cornmeal for the bottoms, scatter some across the parchment.
- There are two main ways of forming bagels – with roll each lump of dough into a thick “snake” and secure the ends together, or roll each lump into a smooth ball before poking a finger though. Once you have a hole made, stretch the ring of dough out a bit to enlarge the hole. Personally, I prefer the latter.
- Once you have all of your bagels formed, set them on a baking sheet to rise for another 10 minutes.
- Turn heat down a little, allowing water to simmer rather than boil. 2 or 3 at a time, drop your bagels into the simmering water, allow to cook for 1 minute, then flip each and allow to cook for another minute. Drain well, place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Whisk egg together with 1 tablespoon of water, brush over the tops and sides of each bagel. Sprinkle each with remaining shredded cheese.
- Bake for 35-37 minutes (small) or 40-45 mins (large), until golden brown.