My kids love bagels and we have them often for our family breakfasts on weekends. But the kids got bored with the same old bagel-and-cream-cheese routine after a while, and decided it was time to get creative. The result: a playful version of an everything bagel, with comical and cheery bagel faces. These DIY delights featured dried cherries, fresh blueberries, and chocolate chips for eyes; small cubes of orange bell pepper or halved strawberries for noses; and thin wedges of red bell pepper or thin slices of banana for the mouth. These works of art were beautiful—and yummy. And it was all great fun until we recently moved on. To bagel balls.
You can stuff these homemade bagel balls with plain cream cheese; veggie cream cheese; scallion cream cheese; ham; ham and cheese; egg and cheese; or ham, egg, and cheese—whatever suits your family. Sprinkled with homemade everything-bagel seasonings, they totally hit the spot.
What Kids Learn
- You can make these bagel balls from homemade dough, but pizza dough is easier.
- You boil the balls first, and then bake them.
- You don’t need to buy everything-bagel seasoning. You can make it yourself with equal parts kosher salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic flakes, and dried onion flakes.
What You’ll Need
- Flour for the work surface
- 1 pound refrigerated pizza dough
- 5 eggs
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- Pinch of black pepper
- 4 ounces of shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- ¼ pound diced ham (deli ham is fine)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Everything-bagel seasoning (see tips above)
What to Do
- Set the ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Show your child how to cut it into 8 evenly sized pieces with a little plastic knife, or do this part yourself. Roll the dough into balls and let your child cover the soon-to-be bagel balls with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for 20 minutes.
- Let your child crack the eggs into a medium bowl and mix them with a whisk or fork until foamy. Let her measure and add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Pour this into a small nonstick pan and cook over low heat, stirring, until the eggs are scrambled. Transfer the eggs to a plate and set aside.Teachable Moment: Bagel Facts to Sink Your Teeth Into
- The first known bagels are thought to have been made in Krakow, Poland, in 1610.
- The name bagel supposedly comes from a Polish adaptation of the German words beigel (“ring”) and bugel (“bracelet”). Makes sense, doesn’t it?
- If the word bagel comes from its shape, where did the shape come from? And why the hole, anyway? It turns out the bagel design is a practical issue: back in the day, foods with a hole in the center were easy to slide onto a stick, so merchants just stacked and sold them.
- To get that special chewy bagel texture, bagels need to be boiled before you bake them.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Show your child how to line a baking sheet with parchment paper and how to flatten dough with the palm of his hands. Each flattened disk of dough should measure about 3 inches.
- Top each disk with scrambled egg, shredded cheese, and diced ham. Then show your child how to pull the dough up and around the filling, seal, and carefully roll into balls. Place the balls, seam side down, on the baking sheet. Let your child cover the balls with the kitchen towel. Wait for about 15 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir in a tablespoon of honey. Cook the balls in the boiling water in two batches for 1 minute, turning halfway through. Do this while your child is in another room! Boiling water and kids don’t mix.Teachable Moment: The Science Behind Just-Right Bagels
- Boiling the bagel first is essential to getting the perfect texture. Basically, it causes the starch on the outside of the bagel to absorb water.
- The water can’t soak into too much of the bagel, though. So the outside gets firm and elastic before the inside has a chance to cook.
- But don’t boil your bagels too long! It’s just for 30–60 seconds on each side. Adding things like salt or baking soda to the cooking water can help change the taste of the crust.
- When the bagels hit the oven, the outside has already been cooked, so there’s no way for the bread to do any more rising! This keeps the bagels’ insides nice and chewy.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the bagel balls from the water and place them on the baking sheet. Your child can sprinkle each with seasoning. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly. Remove them from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. They will still be very hot, so be careful when you bite into one.
Note: You can make bagel balls ahead of time and freeze them. To reheat, wrap a frozen ball in a paper towel and put it in the microwave. Cook on high for roughly 70 seconds. Check and if not completely done, cook for another 20 seconds and check again.