Bagels and Cream Cheese

Today it is winter again in Wisconsin.  The green lawns are covered with snow and it’s cold, just like February should be. This morning I turned on my ovens with a project in mind:  Montreal-style bagels.  In my long history of baking, bagels are something I have never made.  But I like them; particularly Montreal’s St. Viateur bagels.  They are smaller and flatter than American bagels and have a nice chewy crumb.  I think the secret to their wonderfulness is the fact that they are hand-rolled and baked in a wood-burning oven.  I searched the internet looking for a basic recipe and I found many that were similar and seemed to be attributed to Marcy Goldman, a Canadian baker and author.  Of course  homemade bagels require some sort of accompaniment, so I made a fresh and smoked salmon spread.  Here are the recipes:

Montreal-Style Bagels (from Marcy Goldman)

1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 package dry active yeast
1 tablespoon beaten egg
1 tablespoon malt syrup (I used maple syrup)
1 teaspoon salt
4 3/4 cups flour (I used bread flour)
4-5 quarts water
1/4 cup honey
sesame seeds
poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 425F. In a large bowl whisk together the water, sugar, oil, yeast, egg and syrup. Add 1 cup of the flour and the salt and whisk until smooth. Add an additional 2 1/2 to 3 cups of flour and mix until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, adding flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. This will take about 8-10 minutes.

Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. (I weigh my dough and then calculate how much each piece should weigh. Sounds fussy but it ensures equal-sized bagels). Now roll each piece into a 10 inch long rope, wrap it around your hand and pinch the ends together firmly. (Use a little water to stick them, if necessary). Place the rings of dough on parchment-lined baking sheets and cover with clean tea towels.

Let rise for 30 minutes. While the bagels are rising, bring 4-5 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1/4 cup of honey to the water. Add the bagels to the pot of water, 2-3 at a time and cook them for 90 seconds, turning them once.

Remove to clean towels to drain. When they are cool enough to handle, dip each side into the sesame or poppy seeds.

You will need about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of seeds. It’s easiest to place them in a shallow pie plate and then dip the bagels quickly on each side. (I glazed them first with a little of the leftover beaten egg.) Place 6 bagels on each of 2 parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for about 20 minutes, turning once, until nicely browned.

Fresh and Smoked Salmon Spread

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 generous tablespoon sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 ounces cooked salmon, broken into large flakes
2 ounces cold-smoked salmon, chopped into medium dice
zest and juice from half a large lemon
1 1/2 teaspoon capers, rinsed and chopped
1 generous tablespoon chopped chives
a big pinch each of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the cream cheese, yogurt or sour cream, lemon zest and juice together in a medium bowl. Add the capers, chives, cooked salmon, and smoked salmon and fold together without breaking up the salmon too much. Add the smoked paprika and cayenne and taste for seasoning.  Adjust to taste with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Serve with your Montreal-style bagels or with crackers or French bread.  (Many years ago my mother made something similar to this with cream cheese, canned salmon, and liquid smoke!  It was shaped into a ball and rolled in chopped nuts and parsley.  We loved it!).

For those of you craving a real Montreal-style bagel you can order them online at:  



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