My first taste of a bagel was when I was going to the University of Québec in Montréal back in the 80s’. I discovered a cute little eatery nearby making sandwiches. That place was tiny with just a couple of tables. It was more a take-out joint than anything else. It was very busy from morning to mid-afternoon because their sandwiches were original. Now let’s not forget that I’m talking over 30 years ago. Back then a sandwich was 2 slices of white bread… I know, very boring! People just started to elevate that typical lunch item to a higher level with tortillas and croissants.
My favorite lunch item at the eatery was a bagel with cream cheese and lox… oh my! From there I started buying bagels and eating them for breakfast as well. One day I came across one of the oldest bagel bakeries located on Fairmount which is still open after over 60 years. If you ever go visit Montréal, I highly suggest stopping by the bakery… you won’t regret it! Anyway, the moral of all this is I’ve been eating bagels in many flavors and loving them all!
A few years ago, David and I went on another West Coast road trip and in the middle of nowhere, we decided to stop at a small café for breakfast. To our surprise, on their black board menu hanging on the wall behind the counter, there was “jalapeño cheddar bagels” served with cream cheese. Curious and hungry all at the same time, we ordered one each. They were good but “oh boy” were they spicy! We don’t mind spicy and hot but first thing in the morning it was a little too much! There was our first and last experience of jalapeño cheddar bagel until 3 years ago…
Living so close to the Canadian/American border, we shop quite often in the states. One morning while shopping in Bellingham, Washington, we saw those jalapeño cheddar bagels again and decided to give them a second chance to redeem themselves. Nope, they failed once again by being way too “hot”. We both agreed to just forget about them…
By accident, last year we bought a jar of pickled jalapeños while there was already another unopened one in the pantry plus half of another jar in the fridge. Yes I know they’re pickled but when they sit too long, they start turning brown… not really an appetizing color! This is when the light bulbs went off and I decided to try making homemade jalapeño bagels. My first attempt was bang-on! They were not overly spicy and still had some kick to them! According to the kitchen approval supervisor, David loved them!
I love making bagels anywhere from plain to sweet and… spicy! If you want, you can omit the jalapeño peppers and just keep the cheese but why would you? This is what the recipe is all about… Next time you want to use up your pickled jalapeños (they are less “warm” than the fresh ones… that’s the reason why I use them for this recipe), try this and put a little spice in your life!
- 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (between 105-110ºF)
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1/2 cup pickled jalapeño peppers, and more for garnish
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/2 tsp. ground sea salt
- 1/2 cup Pepper Jack cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, or more if needed
- 1/2 tsp. olive oil to coat the bowl, or more if needed
- 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 large egg yolk, beaten mix with 1 tsp. water
- 1 1/2 cups extra-old cheddar cheese, grated