Montreal Cheese Bagels with Strawberry Jam

The Wandering Chew

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For the uninitiated, the idea of a “Montreal Cheese Bagel” might evoke images of a hand-rolled Montreal bagel covered in cheese, rather than the usual sesame or poppy seeds. Despite its name, that is not what constitutes a Montreal Cheese Bagel (not to mention this would be a bagel abomination)! 

The Montreal Cheese Bagel we have grown up with and love is a sweet cheese-filled pastry only found in Jewish-style bakeries in Montreal. A flaky buttery dough surrounds sweet vanilla and lemon-scented farmers cheese filling. It’s shaped like a horseshoe, topped with coarse sugar (or not; it’s a bit of a hot topic around the city) and baked until golden brown. Served with sour cream (or yogurt) and fruit jam, they make for a uniquely delicious Shavuot or Shabbat treat. 

Here’s a list of the tools you’ll need to make the bagels and jam: Large bowl, Measuring cups, Measuring spoons, Two butter knives, Wooden spoon or mixing spatula, Plastic wrap or reusable food wrap, Small bowl, Microplane, Small silicone spatula, Two baking sheets, Parchment paper, Rolling pin, Sharp knife, Small bowl, Fork, Pastry brush.

Ingredients for 8 cheese bagels

Bagel Dough 

1/2  cups (400 grams) all-purpose flour 

1/2 tsp. Diamond Crystal kosher salt 

1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes 

12 Tbsp. ice water, more as needed 

You can also use 2 sheets or 400g frozen puff pastry. Note: Make sure to thaw the package of frozen puff pastry at room temperature for 45 minutes. 

 

Bagel Filling 

2 cups dry farmer’s cheese (dry cottage cheese) or extra smooth ricotta * see note below

1 large egg 

Tbsp. sugar 

Tbsp. flour, plus extra for work surface 

1/2 tsp. Diamond Crystal kosher salt  

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 

Zest of half a lemon 

 

Bagel Topping 

1 egg beaten, for egg wash 

2-3 Tbsp. of granulated sugar, for sprinkling 

 

To serve 

Sour cream or yogurt 

 

*If you’re using ricotta cheese in the filling instead of farmer’s cheese (dry cottage cheese): We recommend straining it overnight to drain off the liquid in it to create a drier ricotta cheese that is similar in texture to dry farmer’s cheese. To strain the ricotta, line a fine meshed strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth or a clean cotton kitchen towel. Place the strainer over a large bowl, making sure there’s an inch or two of space between the bottom of the strainer and the bottom of the bowl. Place the ricotta in the strainer and fold the cheesecloth or the cotton towel over the ricotta to cover. Place a heavy bowl or heavy can over the cheese and refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Remove the cheese from the refrigerator and squeeze the cheese while still in the cheesecloth or cotton towel to remove any remaining liquid. Discard the liquid at the bottom of the bowl and continue with the recipe. 

 

Sumac Strawberry Jam

4 cups (about 620g) whole frozen strawberries  

1/4 cup maple syrup or sugar (feel free to add more maple syrup or sugar if you’d like your jam sweeter) 

1/2 tsp. ground sumac 

1 tsp. lemon juice 

1/2 tsp. Diamond Crystal kosher salt 

 

Directions

Cheese Bagels

To make the cheese bagel dough from scratch:  

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. 
  1. Add the butter to the bowl, and toss until all the butter cubes are coated in flour. Use two butter knives to cut the butter into the size of walnut halves. While doing this, the knives should crisscross each other, forming a pattern, as you cut into the pieces of butter. You can also use your fingers to do this, but this will warm the butter causing it to slightly melt, and we want to keep the butter as cold as possible. 
  1. Make a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture, and add 6 tablespoons of ice water, mixing until the water is incorporated. Add the remaining water a few tablespoons at a time, until you have a dough that comes together. 
  1. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap or a reusable food wrap, and chill for 30-45 minutes. 

To make the filling: 

  1. While the dough is chilling: In a small bowl, mix together the farmers cheese or ricotta, egg, sugar, flour, vanilla extract and lemon zest until combined. Cover and place in the fridge until the dough is ready. 
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  1. Lightly flour your work surface. If using puff pastry, unfold or unroll the puff pastry and place one piece on your floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll it out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick and rectangular in shape. Slice the puff pastry lengthwise into two pieces. 
Montreal Cheese Bagel
  1. If using our homemade dough, remove it from the fridge and cut it into four pieces. Take one piece and roll it out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick and rectangular in shape. 
  1. Remove the cheese filling from the fridge. Spread a quarter of the cheese filling along the length of one piece of the puff pastry or homemade dough from end to end, making sure to place it close to the edge. Roll the filled puff pastry into a log and cut it into two equal halves. Gently shape each log into a horseshoe shape and pinch the ends shut. Carefully transfer each horseshoe onto your prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remainder of the dough and filling. 
  1. Mix beaten egg with 1 teaspoon of water and mix until combined. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake, rotating halfway through, until evenly brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature with yogurt and jam. You can also freeze the unbaked cheese bagels in freezer bags and bake them for about 5-10 minutes longer. 

Sumac Strawberry Jam

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the strawberries, maple syrup or sugar, sumac and salt, and place over medium-high heat.  
  1. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and bring to a rapid simmer. Stir the mixture often and keep simmering until the strawberries break down and the mixture thickens, about 40 minutes. You can break up any large strawberries with a spoon. 
  1. Let cool, and store in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks. 

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The Wandering Chew

The Wandering Chew is a women led not-for-profit based in Montreal whose mission is to tell the diversity of Jewish stories through food. Their events foster a sense of community among participants from diverse backgrounds, all while celebrating the traditions of Jewish food and culture. The Wandering Chew is run by Sydney Warshaw, Kat Romanow and Gillian Sonin who share a deep love of Jewish food and Montreal bagels.