What do you do when you’re craving an everything bagel, but don’t have the patience to make bagels or want to leave the house? I don’t know what you do, but I make biscuits.
No one needs my sentimental story about a bagel, but everything bagels were a staple of my “I can’t really be bothered to cook anything but pasta” undergrad years. I’d reward myself for getting up early by swinging by Tim’s on my way to class, stressfully trying to figure out if I had time to stand in line for my bagel and coffee without being that guy who rolls in late with a whole breakfast. Sometimes I’d get herb and garlic cream cheese, which I feel slight remorse about now that I realize that the friend I’d sit next to was probably overwhelmed with my garlicky, oniony self at 8:30 in the morning (sorry, Dave!). Those bagels got me through boring lectures far too early in the morning, late evenings in the lab, and were an excuse to take a much-needed break from cramming for midterms with friends in the library. Years later, I’m partial to the chewiness of Montreal-style bagels (where these toppings are called “all-dressed”) but I still find myself wanting those flavours.
Bagels take hours to make, but biscuits don’t. You can go from “I think I might want some biscuits” to slightly burning your fingertips with hot, buttery goodness in under an hour, which is perfect for a sudden craving. These biscuits are flaky, tender, and buttery, with little pockets of cream cheese, and are studded throughout with everything bagel seasoning. They come together super quickly with the help of a food processor (but still quite easily by hand) and are as suited for breakfast as they are to an afternoon snack or a side to a simple dinner.
To make these biscuits, I prefer a food processor. The cream cheese breaks down into different-sized pieces, and the smallest ones get absorbed into the dough to make it tender and slightly tangy. The larger bits remain intact, for creamy pockets to remind you that you’re eating a biscuit inspired by a bagel. This can be done by hand if you don’t have a food processor, just keep it in mind that you want to smear a bit of it into the dough as you bring it together. There’s baking powder in the dough to leaven it, but you’ll also want to keep the butter in larger pieces to provide steam leavening and layering, similar to making pie dough. Chilling the biscuits briefly as the oven preheats ensures the butter stays cold, so when it goes in the hot oven it has a chance to add some nice layers to the biscuits. The final biscuits are fluffy and tender and are best served warm, whether as a mid-studying treat or a weekend snack at home.
- Everything bagel seasoning is fairly easy to find these days, but I’ve included the recipe I use in case it isn’t sold where you shop. The salt can be adjusted to taste. If you’re using a pre-made one that you think might be a bit on the salty side, reduce the salt in the biscuits by about 1/2 tsp.
- You don’t need a food processor to make this recipe. If you don’t have one, use a whisk to bring the dry ingredients together, and then just rub the butter and cream cheese pieces into the dough with your fingers until the butter pieces are pea-sized.
- This recipe can easily be halved. I think that biscuits are best eaten fresh so that’s how I prefer to make them if they won’t all be eaten right away. The dough should be rolled to the same thickness, but the size of the rectangle will just be smaller. You could also make the full amount of dough and freeze half of the unbaked biscuits on a tray, transferring to a freezer bag. To bake from frozen, add a couple of minutes to the end of the baking time.
- The chives are optional but recommended, especially if you like herb & garlic cream cheese. I really like the freshness they add. If you don’t have chives, you could use finely minced green onions instead or omit them entirely. You could use different herbs, depending on what you’ve got, just make sure they’re fresh rather than dried.
Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese Biscuits
Makes 12 biscuits
- 400g (approx. 3 cups plus 3 tbsp) all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 4 tbsp everything bagel seasoning
- 2 tbsp finely minced chives (optional)
- 140g (10 tbsp) butter, cold, cut into 1cm cubes
- 110g (1/4 cup) cream cheese, cold, cut into 1cm cubes
- 260g milk (approx. 1 cup plus 2 tbsp), plus up to 2 tbsp (28g) extra if needed
For finishing: 1 tbsp milk
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder, sugar, kosher salt, and everything bagel seasoning until combined and well distributed.
Add the cubed cold butter and cream cheese and chives (optional), and pulse a couple of times until the largest chunks are slightly larger than the size of a pea. Dump this out into a medium bowl.
Pour most of the milk over the flour mixture and fold everything together with a spatula. The mixture shouldn’t feel wet, but should be able to hold together if squeezed. It’s okay if there are a couple of dry bits in the bowl- they’ll hydrate as you roll the dough out. If there are a lot of dry bits, add the rest of the milk and mix, and add up to an additional 2 tbsp of milk if it’s still too dry after that. Squeeze the dough together and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
Roll the dough out to about 1-inch thick rectangle- roughly 8×12 inches. The exact dimensions don’t matter that much, but try to keep the edges straight as best you can. Cut the dough in half horizontally and vertically, and stack those four pieces on top of one another.
Roll the dough again until 1-inch thick, aiming for about a 6×8-inch rectangle. If you want neater biscuits, trim the edges so they’re straight, but it’s not necessary. For squared biscuits, divide the dough into 12 equal-sized pieces, cutting in a grid. For round biscuits, use a 2-2.5-inch round cutter, cutting as many as you can out of the first pass, then flattening the scrap together to make a second pass of cuts.
Place the biscuits on a baking sheet at least 1 inch (2cm) apart and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Right before baking, brush the tops of the biscuits with milk. Bake in the oven at 425°F for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 7-9 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm.
Everything Bagel Seasoning
- 1 tbsp (10g) poppyseeds
- 1 tbsp (7g) dried minced onion
- 1 tbsp (9g) dried minced garlic
- 1 tbsp (7g) black sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp (8g) white sesame seeds
- 1 tsp (4g) kosher salt
Combine all of the ingredients into a medium bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight jar. When ready to use, shake the jar first, as the smaller components tend to settle towards the bottom over time.