About the Recipe
I am so excited to share my latest recipe with you - Montreal Cheese Bagels. Now, before you start picturing a classic bagel with a slice of cheese, let me clarify that Montreal Cheese Bagels are a completely different beast. These horseshoe-shaped pastries are filled with a delicious mixture of sweetened soft cheeses, including ricotta, cream cheese, and cottage cheese.
I was first introduced to these wonderful pastries in high-school by one of my best friends. She had Jewish heritage and so taught me a lot about some of their culinary specialties including that of cheese bagels. She would often have some hidden away in the freezer and we would enjoy them as afterschool treats. At the time I didn't know where to get them, so these were really special and really something I only got to enjoy at her house. Only in my adulthood did I discover a bakery that sold them and I quickly introduced them to my kids who of course love them as well.
But then, life brought us to live out in the countryside an hour outside of Montreal, and unfortunately, there are no cheese bagels to be found out here. So, I of course had to find a way to make them myself.
Developing this recipe was no easy feat. I spent countless hours experimenting with different pastry crusts to achieve the perfect balance of flakiness and sweetness. But after many trials and errors, I finally nailed it! The crust is buttery, flaky, and perfectly complements the creamy cheese filling.
Montreal Cheese Bagels are often enjoyed as a breakfast pastry or as a snack throughout the day. They're a delightful departure from traditional bagels and are sure to impress your taste buds with their unique flavor and texture.
3 1/2 cups Flour
1 1/2 cup Butter (chilled)
1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 - 1 1/2 cups Cold Water
1/2 cup Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Cottage Cheese
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
4-5 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
*Rind from one lemon (optional)
1 tablespoon Water
1/4 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
Pinch of Salt
First thing is first, lets make the dough. The dough needs some chill time, so unless you have made some ahead of time it is best to start here. This is the part of the recipe that was trickiest to figure out. My first trials weren't flaky enough and too chewy. But, after many different combinations I finally got the dough to be just right.
To make the dough sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Next, add in the butter. I usually cube the butter into small pieces before mixing it in as it is easier to incorporate. Then using your hands incorporate the butter into the flour and salt mixture. Gently pinch and mix the butter until you reach a coarse, dry sand consistency.
Next, start to incorporate the water 1/4 cup at a time. Still using your hands to knead and mix. Keep adding water until all the flour is well incorporated with the butter and you are able to form a nice solid ball of dough.
Wrap the dough in some plastic cling film and place it in the fridge to cool for a minimum of 1 hour. This dough can also be made ahead of time and frozen. Just thaw it in the fridge overnight the day before you want to use it. (It is also a great dough for pie crust, like my Swiss Tart (Wahe) recipe).
When the dough has been chilled, you can prepare the filling mixture. First, using a colander, rinse the cottage cheese so that you are only left with the cheese curds. Then, in a medium mixing bowl use a fork to mix together the three cheeses. Using the back of the fork, push down the cottage cheese curds so that barely any lumps remain.
Still using your fork, mix in the sugar, flour, salt, egg and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly until you have a creamy light yellow mixture. I prefer mine to be as smooth as possible, so I really try and mush down any larger cheese lumps. But do not worry if there are a few remaining. They soften up during the baking process. You can also add in some lemon rind that this point if you want a light lemony flavor but this is optional. I add it in when I want to change it up a bit.
Next, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out on a well floured work surface. I usually split the dough in half so that I work in smaller batches.
Roll the dough out into a rectangular like shape approximately 30cm x 30cm (12 " x 12") and roughly 2-3mm thick. Cut the dough into strips that are 3" wide.
Next, spread some filling along the middle length of the strips. Using your finger or a pastry brush, wet the outer edges of the rectangular strip with a little bit of water. This will help seal your dough to make sure the filling does not spill out during the baking process. Next, fold the top end of the rectangle over to the bottom creating an encasing for the filling. Pinch the edges together making sure to really push the dough firmly together. I then like to roll the pinched edge upwards to create a secondary seal.
Once you have created a nice seal (including the two ends) form your cheese bagels into horseshoe shaped 'U's.
Place the shaped bagels onto a lined baking sheet.
Preheat your oven to 375F.
Using a pastry brush brush each bagel with a thin layer of egg wash. This will give them their wonderful golden glow. If you want to add an extra sweet touch, you can also sprinkle them with some pearl sugar at this stage. I prefer mine less sweet, so I usually do not put any.
Bake the bagels for 25-30 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.
These bagels are traditionally served with sour cream or jam (or both) but are just as delicious plain. Great for breakfast or as an afternoon snack and perfect to pair with coffee or tea.
Hope you enjoy these Montreal goodies as much as I do!