For the longest time, I never dreamed I could make bagels at home. I figured I’d need special equipment, training and ingredients for such a beautiful and yummy thing. I looked into it briefly a few years back when I was less comfortable with bread-making and was frightened off by the idea of boiling the dough. Then about six months ago, I saw Jennifer Garner make bagels on instagram and I was like, well, if she can do it…. I mean I did have some experience with my oven…
The first bagel recipe I tried making was a Jerusalem style bagel which didn’t require boiling and was thus a lot more approachable. As I gained more confidence I tested a few more recipes that promised me something more like the new york bagel. One of my favorites from those trials was from Alexandra Cooks which was oh, SO good (definitely make it if it is the NY bagel you desire). I then went down a bagel hole, read about the different types, learned how ny and jerusalem style were different, how the boiling process locked in more chew, and that a special ingredient was necessary for that unique bagel taste. I stumbled upon and totally recommend this hilarious article, which tickled the picky foodie in me, even if I do not agree with the idea that there could ever be too much cream cheese. And as I kept on through this homemade bagel journey, I kept coming back to the Jerusalem bagel.
A jerusalem bagel is different than its new york counterpart in a few ways - it is softer, more bread-like in texture, and most importantly for home bakers, a hell of a lot easier. There’s no special ingredients, you need only a 1-2 hour first rise and a tiny rest after shaping, and there is no need to boil. I love it for its simplicity and its ability to produce a delicious baked good with little time and effort.
I got the idea to turn these bagels into ‘bombs’ after visiting this yummy place, although there I could taste that they had been previously frozen (as expected with a customer base as large as theirs). I wanted to try making them fresh - after all, a bagel is best 30 minutes after it has come out of the oven. This article via KAF helped me figure out how to convert the recipe and I used some of the tips I had picked up from other bagel recipes to make these into perfect ‘bombs’. I made them again, and again. I tried them with a boil and without, with whole wheat flour, ap and bread flour. I tried them with different toppings (including zaatar, yum!), and basically they have made a regular appearance at our brunch table and we are all so glad I finally found my way here.
These combine the best of both my bagel worlds; the dough is easy and quick, requires only ingredients you already have in your pantry, and are exploding with as much cream cheese as your heart desires. Toppings and fillings can be manipulated to your liking and basically, 2-3 hours from now you and your family/roommates/neighbors are going to be very happy that Jennifer Garner made that video and that you serendipitously stumbled upon this post =)
Seeded Jerusalem Bagel Bombs
This recipe is based on Reem Kasis’ Jerusalem bagels from The Palestinian Table. Aside from the obvious change of turning them into ‘bombs’, I made two changes to the dough itself. First in the form of the yeast and how it’s activated and second in the flour. Bread flour produces a chewier bagel and has more in common with the NY bagel on which the bomb is based.
Dipping the dough balls into the topping is essential. Sprinkling is obviously an easier way to do this but most of the seeds won’t stick to the topping post-bake and will be wasted.
My topping is nigella seed heavy. I love, love these seeds and I think they pair wonderfully with this bread and cream cheese. You can’t persuade me to use anything else. You’ll find nigellas at most middle eastern markets and if not, here’s an easy fix. If you don’t want to use them, consider black sesame seeds. Many people also enjoy TJ’s ‘everything’ topping on homemade bagels.
I subbed about 120g of the flour for whole wheat in the trial you see in the first photo and it was quite good although it made it a little less tender, as expected.
Feel like adding something to the filling? I tried a feta and cream cheese mix in one of my trials and we liked it a lot. I can also imagine adding garlic powder would be interesting. If you do end up adding flavoring, you’ll have to soften the cream cheese to incorporate the addition, portion it into spoonfuls and then freeze so they are easier to place into your dough.
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
480g bread flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups whole milk, warm
8-12 oz cream cheese, cold
¼ cup Nigella seeds
⅛ cup Sesame seeds
In a heatproof bowl, microwave the milk until just warm. Add sugar and yeast and let sit for the yeast to dissolve.
Place all dough dry ingredients in the bottom of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment and whisk to combine.
Add the milk to the flour and knead until dough comes together in a ball, about 5-7 minutes.
Place dough in a bowl covered in olive oil, turn a few times to cover the dough in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1-2 hours, until it is doubled in size.
When your dough is ready, prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Divide the dough into 10 pieces and then one by one, shape the dough into circles with your hands and press down the center with your thumbs and place about 1 tablespoon cold cream cheese in each (I use a cookie scoop to portion the cream cheese). Pinch the edges together to close the ball and roll it gently to shape. Place them seam side down onto the prepared baking sheet.
Once the balls are all made, let them sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes to rest. Prepare the toppings by mixing the seeds in a bowl and whisking the egg with a bit of water to make a wash.
Preheat oven to 425.
Gently pick up each ball and brush with egg wash. Dip it, face down into your seed mixture and return it to the baking sheet. Gently try to get it back into a ball shape if it got a little deformed in the dipping process.
Bake for 15 minutes, until edges just turn golden.