salt + pepper bagels with rosemary cream cheese

I  have to confess something. I’ve lied to you guys.

Remember this post? Well I have, in fact, bought bagels since writing that post. What can I say, sometimes you just need a quick bagel and you don’t have time to make them from scratch!

Recently, I did have time to make some more homemade bagels, and I wanted them to be relatively simple in flavor, but somehow elegant in their simplicity. So, I submit for your consideration these salt and pepper bagels with some fresh whipped rosemary cream cheese (with more black pepper, for good measure). They’re great for a big breakfast or brunch spread, or just by themselves if you feel like having a classic, chewy, crunchy bagel that totally annihilates anything you’ll find on the grocery store shelves.

salt + pepper bagels with rosemary cream cheese

(makes 8 – 4 oz bagels; originally adapted from this recipe)

bagel dough

3 1/2 c (530 g) bread flour
2 1/2 tsp (7 g) instant dry yeast
2 Tbs (28 g) sugar
1 Tbs + 2 tsp (13 g) fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbs (18 g) kosher salt
1 1/2 c (347 g) hot water
2 Tbs (25 g) brown sugar
A few quarts water, for boiling bagels
2 egg yolks + 2 tsp milk, for egg wash
Sea salt and black pepper, for garnish

rosemary-black pepper cream cheese

8 oz (226 g) softened cream cheese
3 Tbs (45 g) heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp (4 g) fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbs, packed (4 g) fresh rosemary

For the bagels: In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with the regular chopping blade, pulse the flour, yeast, sugar, black pepper, and kosher salt until combined, about 10 pulses.

With the food processor running, pour the hot water (tap water is fine) down the feed tube in a steady stream. Continue to process for another 30 seconds once all the water has been added. Gather up the dough into a relatively even ball, and place in a lightly greased large bowl. Cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place for about one hour. The dough should rise to about double its original volume.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Grease the pan well with cooking spray, and set aside.

Fill a large pot about half full with water, and stir in the brown sugar. Set the pot over high heat and allow it to come to a boil. Meanwhile, shape the dough!

Uncover the risen bagel dough and punch it down to deflate. Flatten the dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface, and roll into a rough log. Divide the log into 8 pieces, 4 ounces each by weight. Ball up each piece and poke a hole in the centers with your thumb. Stretch the hole out so that the bagels are as large as you’d like them to be, and place the shaped bagels on the parchment lined pan. Allow all 8 bagels to rest for ten minutes.

Once the bagels have rested and the water is boiling, turn the heat to low so that the water will just barely simmer. Gently drop 2 or 3 bagels at at time into the water, and let soak for 30 seconds per side. Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon and allow the excess water to drain before placing them back on the greased parchment lined pan.

Brush the bagels with the egg wash, and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes; turn the pan and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes, depending on how dark golden brown you prefer your bagels. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly while you make the rosemary cream cheese.

For the cream cheese: Clean out the bowl and blade of your food processor and in it, place the softened cream cheese, heavy cream, pepper, sea salt, and rosemary. Pulse a few times to get everything combined, and then process until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with plastic and chill until ready to use, unless you’re using it immediately.

To serve, slice the fresh bagels in half with a good serrated knife and smear on the cream cheese! These bagels really are at their best within the first few hours of being made. There are no preservatives of any kind, so they tend to suffer when kept long-term, even at room temperature. To extend their life, freeze the freshly baked and cooled bagels in a good zip-top freezer bag. To reheat them, wrap the frozen bagels in foil and place in a 350 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until heated through. Remove the foil and allow them to crisp up on the outside for a minute or so. The cream cheese will keep well for up to a week when covered tightly and refrigerated.

If you really want to make a good impression on houseguests/brunch guests/your neighbors, make some of these fresh, crackly, salt-and-peppery bagels and herby cream cheese and share them freely. You may not win friends with salad, but you surely will with homemade bagels and cream cheese!

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