A few months ago my aunt suggested that I try out Christina Tosi’s cookbook Momofuku Milk Bar. It took me awhile to get around to it, but I’m so glad I did, and today’s recipe comes from the book. Let me tell you, I was absolutely enthralled by the book. I found it both intimidating and exciting. I really couldn’t wait to dive in and make a half-dozen recipes.
But let me back up. Momofuku Milk Bar is basically a bakery in New York City. But their cookies, and cakes, and pies, aren’t run of the mill. The use unexpected ingredients to make delightful treats. They use breakfast cereal, salty snacks, and of course sugar, to make amazing baked goods.
At first I was intimidated, and I still am a little bit. Baking is about precision and Tosi takes it pretty seriously. She strongly advocates for measuring ingredients in grams and for using specific ingredients. After the introduction, there is a whole section on ingredients and another section on equipment. This was where I got intimidated because she uses ingredients like glucose, freeze dried corn, and both brown and clear vanilla extract. Tosi recommends buying what you can’t find in stores on Amazon. Whew. For some reason, no matter how amazing a recipe looks, I’m averse to buying an ingredient if I’m not sure I’ll ever use it again. Why can’t I use what I already have?
But what is clear from all these instructions is that Tosi loves Milk Bar and loves what she does. And so most of the time when I get a celebrity or restaurant cookbook it doesn’t feel like these are the real recipes, but instead are instructions altered for public consumption. But, here it feels like these are the true recipes and she’s sharing it with us, her readers, and letting us know that it might be scary but we can make amazing baked goods. And so, why not push myself? If the purpose of my blog and my cooking adventures is to try something new, then I should suck it up and figure out where in the world I can buy malt powder.
What really got me excited about the book is how the recipes are exciting and vivacious. There’s no plain sugar cookie in this book. Every recipe has great personality. Throughout the book there’s a great mix of sweet, salty, crunchy and gooey. I was so inspired by the idea of using rainbow sprinkles, or cornflakes, or crushed pretzel bits. I rented this book from the library, but I’m definitely going to buy a copy on my own because there’s too much I want to try. My only true gripe is there are not enough pictures of the food. I want more drool worthy images!
Anyway, I decided to start out with the bagel bomb recipe. This recipe would push me out of my comfort zone because I hardly ever make bread, but it doesn’t require any hard to find ingredients. To describe this recipe, it’s like a bagel the shape of a dinner roll, baked, and filled with oozy gooey cream cheese. Amazing right? I made them on Saturday for breakfast and Ryan and I had to hold back so we didn’t devour them too fast and burn ourselves on the very hot cream cheese.
What is great about this recipe is that there is so much room for innovation with this recipe. As is, the recipe is for an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese. But, you could easily knead chocolate chips in the dough and use plain cream cheese. You could also knead in raisins and cinnamon, or dried cranberries. Or you could fill it with salmon cream cheese! Oh the possibilities!
One last note before we get started… I’m going to give you the ingredient list using cups and spoons, not grams. I know it’s less authentic, I’m sorry! I didn’t use grams because my kitchen scale isn’t sophisticated enough, and I only want to share with you what I actually did. Also, I changed up Tosi’s cream cheese recipe because she used bacon in it and I didn’t feel it was necessary. And finally, “everything bagel topping” calls for black sesame seeds but I didn’t use those. I already had white sesame seeds and I just couldn’t bring myself to buy more sesame seeds. It still tasted good. However, if you make this and decide on using both types of sesame seeds, I’ll be super proud of you.
3 1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp salt
1/2 packet or 1 1/8 tsp of active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup water at room temperature
grape seed oil (although I used vegetable)
Cream Cheese –
7 ounces cream cheese (buy the kind that’s in a square package, ounce measurements will be on the outside)
3-4 scallion greens thinly sliced (I used the food processor)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Everything Bagel Topping –
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
2 tsp black sesame seeds
2 tsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp dried onion
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder.
1/2 tsp water
1. Start with the cream cheese because it takes the longest. Chop up the scallions into small pieces. Put the cream cheese in a bowl and beat until lighter and smooth. You can beat it a.) by hand (ouch! my arm would be tired) b.) electric hand mixer c.) Tosi’s recommendation, stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium.
2. Add the scallions, sugar, and salt to the cream cheese and beat until well mixed.
3. On a parchment lined baking sheet, put 8 lumps of cream cheese. Freeze until hard, about 1-3 hours. I left mine in 1.5 hours.
4. Now move on to the dough; that takes the next longest. Tosi recommends a stand mixer, and that’s the directions I’ll use, but I’ve made bread dough before completely by hand, so if you don’t have a stand mixer, I am confident you can still do this recipe. ANYWAY. Put the flour, salt, and yeast in a bowl. Hold the dough hook in your hand and mix. Basically pretend the dough hook is a spoon.
5. Slowly add the water. Continue mixing, by hand, using the dough hook. Tosi says it should be a “shaggy mass,” which to me meant the dough was a little shredded looking and not smooth.
6. Attach the dough hook to the machine. Mix on the lowest speed for 7 minutes. At about 3.5 minutes in you can stop and check the progress if you feel so inclined. Tosi says it should “look like a wet ball.” Mine didn’t look wet, but it was sticky and when I poked it the dough slowly bounced back into place (which she said it should). If yours looks really wet, then add a little flour.
7. Grease a large bowl with oil. To do this, I poured a little oil in a bowl then used a paper towel to coat all the sides. Put your dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit for 45 minutes.
8. Mix all the ingredients for the everything bagel topping in a small bowl. Set aside.
9. Heat oven to 350°.
10. Lightly flour your work surface. Put the dough on your surface. Punch down the dough to flatten it. Using a dough cutter (or a ruler, or something that shape) divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Using your hands and gently stretch the dough pieces to be about 3 inches wide.
11. Put a frozen cream cheese lump into the center of each piece of dough.
12. Bring the edges of the dough up and around the cream cheese. Pinch the dough shut, then roll the ball gently in your hand to seal it up.
13. Put the bagel balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Give 3-4 inches of space between bagels.
14. Whisk the egg and 1/2 tsp of water. Brush each bagel with a generous coating of the egg mixture.
15. Generously sprinkle the everything bagel topping over the bagel. Cover it as much as you can!
16. Bake for about 25 minutes. You want it to be a light golden brown and the cream cheese should be exploding and oozing out of some the bagels. Looks great right? I want to run home and make this right now. Thank you Milk Bar!
Messy Level: This recipe is more time consuming than it is messy. I’ll call it a 2 spoon recipe. You need to use a few bowls, but nothing flies all around or gets sticky or crazy. Yes, the cream cheese oozes, but then you just dip in the bagel. This recipe cleans itself. YUM.