Pumpkin-spice bagels and pumpkin-spice cream cheese

When you crave pumpkin-spice schmear and its bagel-form buddy from holidays long gone.
And then you remember pumpkin-spice [insert foodstuff here]
doesn’t exist in this country and besides, it’s actually Spring. 

The solution: grab a pumpkin and start from scratch.

Pumpkin bagels

Bagel recipe from The Galley Gourmet. Cream cheese: improvised.

And a warning: don’t start unless you’ve got a lazy 3 hours up your sleeve.


A whole small butternut pumpkin (or a large chunk of a large one) — enough to make more than 3/4 cup mashed*

For the bagels
1/2 cup of the aforementioned mashed pumpkin
3/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 + 1/4 cup plain flour
1 tbsp dried yeast
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch of salt

1/2 cup pepitas

For the schmear
1 block Philadelphia cream cheese (I used light)
1/4+ cup of mashed pumpkin (depending how pumpkiny you want it)
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves


  1. Peel and chop the pumpkin, then steam it over a saucepan (or in the microwave) until it’s very soft (according to a fork or bamboo skewer).
  2. Transfer to a medium bowl and use a stick blender (or use a food processor, of course) to blend the pumpkin until it’s uniformly velvety and smooth. Transfer to the fridge so it’s not too hot for the yeast when the time comes.
  3. Add all the bagel ingredients (except the pepitas) to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment** and mix on low speed for about 3 minutes, or until the dough has started to form. It should be a bit sticky — if not, add just a touch more pumpkin.
  4. Mix for another 7 minutes or so. By now you should have a single lump of slightly saggy dough.
  5. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave it somewhere warm for 1.5 hours. (If the warmest place is in the sun, cover the bowl with a tea towel to protect the yeast from the light.)
  6. When the dough has doubled and your 90 minutes is up, press the dough a bit to relax any big air pockets, then roll it into ball and set it on a lightly floured surface.
  7. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the dough ball into eight equal portions, and roll each of these into a ball before placing on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
    Pumpkin bagel dough
  8. Dip your index finger in some flour, then poke a hole into the middle of each bagel, stretching out the hole to about the size of a 5-cent coin/penny.
  9. Leave the dough to rise again for 20 minutes — just out on the bench is fine — while you preheat the oven to 220° C.
  10. Just before the 20 minutes is up, bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil.
  11. Using a slotted spoon, gently drop the bagels into the water, three or four at a time. Boil for 1.5–2 minutes — flipping over halfway through — then use the slotted spoon to remove them and place them back onto the paper-lined tray. Repeat until they’re all done.
  12. Sprinkle/press the pepitas onto the top of the bagels while the surface is still sticky.
  13. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until the bagels are golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped.
  14. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Serve at room temperature with…

…Spiced-pumpkin cream cheese***

  1. Put all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mash together with a fork until completely combined and smooth. Add more spices, pumpkin or sugar to taste. That’s it!
    Pumpkin-spice schmear

*I cooked about 750 grams. Enough for this and a handful of other seasonally inappropriate recipes!
**The going will get tough, so a KitchenAid or similarly sturdy machine is best.
***You can prepare this while the dough is rising (either time) and just keep it in the fridge until it’s ready to serve.

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