These combine the best of both bagel worlds: a quick and easy dough using 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.
For a very long time I was really intimidated by the process of bagel making – how could something so perfect be made without some special machinery or experienced talent?? The first bagel recipe I tried making was a Jerusalem style bagel which was very approachable and didn’t require boiling. 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 styles 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.
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 is 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.
A jerusalem bagel, or Palestinian Kaak Al Quds (the arabic name) have been around for centuries (read more about their origins here), 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.
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.
Bread Flour: The higher protein content in bread flour gives the bagel bombs more ‘chew’. If you don’t have it you can use an all purpose flour but not a low protein type.
Milk: Whole milk, be sure to warm it JUST to touch. If the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast and the dough won’t rise.
Yeast: Active dry or rapid rise will work here.
Sugar: granulated sugar, just a bit it helps the dough rise and gives it a tad bit of sweetness.
Salt: fine sea salt. If using table salt halve the amount.
Baking powder: This helps with the browning of the dough.
Olive oil: A little bit of the oil goes into the dough and then we’ll use it to oil the bowl and the dough for rising.
Cream Cheese: a full fat firm brick (not whipped!)
Egg: for the egg wash. You can use just the white if you like (and reserve the yolk for some cookies 😉 )
Seeds or Zaatar: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, nigella seeds or some palestinian zaatar are all wonderful on top.
Start by warming the milk to touch, then mixing it with the yeast and a pinch of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Leave the yeast to dissolve and activate for a few minutes.
Add the baking powder, salt, rest of the sugar, olive oil and flour then affix the dough hook attachment.
Knead until the bowl is clean and you have a smooth, tacky dough.
Set the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
For the first rise, the dough should almost but not quite double in size.
Divide the dough into eight equal pieces.
Roll them into balls then let them rest for a few minutes.
Use your thumbs to press into the middle of the dough ball and place the cream cheese in the center
Pinch the dough together to seal the cheese into the ball.
Then roll it on the counter to smooth it over. Repeat with the remaining balls.
The second rise should be about 45-60 minutes (the longer time if your kitchen is very cold).
Preheat the oven and brush the egg white over the tops of the dough then sprinkle on your chosen topping.
Bake until golden.
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