May 14, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels!

Who doesn’t love starting their morning with a good, fresh, warm bagel, toasted with a little butter or cream cheese?! I think I’ve shared before that bread baking has always been the trickiest baking for me but I decided one weekend to tackle the bagel baking! I know I usually share things that are quick to put together and I try to show that you can still make delicious homemade food with a busy schedule. All that is still true but on the weekends I like to try new things that I think might require a little more time and patience and these bagels fit right into that category. I had a busy weekend of paper writing the first time I made these and they ended up being one of the best study breaks! There are a few steps to the process and it’s best to make these in two days, but don’t let this deter you! The steps aren’t too complex and you’ll be thanking yourself the moment you take them out of the oven.

This particular recipe is a basic so you can remove the raisins and cinnamon and replace them with whatever makes your favorite bagel. Jordan’s favorite is Asiago cheese bagels and another combo we’ve enjoyed is cranberry walnut! If you can’t decide which variation to make, you can split the dough in half and make two different kinds, or more!

Here is what you’ll need!

(Adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Makes about 16 bagels.)


  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups water, room temperature


  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 cups raisins

The first thing you need to make is the sponge, which is just a mixture that allows part of the dough to pre-ferment. That’s a good thing! In a large mixing bowl, combine the 4 cups of flour with the yeast and then slowly pour in the room temperature water. Mix this together until the batter becomes sticky.

The sponge: yeast, flour and water.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. It should rise to about double its size!

The sponge after sitting for 2 hours.

Step 1 is now complete! For the dough you can use the same bowl that your sponge is in. Add the additional teaspoon of yeast and stir. Add 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon, granulated and brown sugar. Now I need to warn you before you throw in all the flour and then have a counter and yourself dusted with flour: if you don’t have the large mixer, help the mixing process along and hand mix in the flour a bit BEFORE turning on the mixer. I had way too much confidence in my machine and the moment I turned it in on: poof! Flour everywhere! Once you get things under control, you are just looking to get the dough to form a ball and you can slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour to stiffen the dough. The operative word there is slowly! In the last minute or so of mixing, add the raisins.

You are now at the hardest step of bagel making and it’s not so much that it’s hard as it is physical: the kneading! I do have good news if you have the larger mixer, the machine will do the kneading for you! You can use the dough hook and just let the machine knead your dough for about 6 minutes. If you don’t have the large bowl, which is my situation, you just want to flour your counter and knead away for about 10 minutes. It will be your arm workout for the day. You are looking for the dough to be stiff, but smooth, and very pliable. If you find that as you fold and press down on the dough it is starting to rip, things have gotten too dry and you can add just a few drips of water. The dough shouldn’t have any loose flour and it shouldn’t be sticky at all. It is commonly described as being satiny when your kneading time is complete.

Kneaded bagel dough!

Ok! The hard part is over! The next step is to form the bagels. I found it easiest to divide the dough into 16 pieces and then roll each into a ball shape. (You can make 12 pieces for Big sized bagels or 24 for mini bagels.) Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover them with a damp towel and let them rest for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, make a hole in the center of each roll shape and then use your thumbs to rotate around the hole and stretch the hole wider until you form a bagel shape. You want to make sure you form the bagel evenly so that one side isn’t much thicker than the other! Place the formed bagels back on the parchment paper, sprayed lightly with cooking spray. You also want to lightly spray the top of the bagels with the cooking spray once they are all formed and on the sheet.

Bagels formed!

Let the bagels sit for another 20 minutes. You then need to do a “float test”, which determines when your bagels are ready to go in the fridge. Fill a small bowl with water and drop one bagel in. If the bagel floats they are ready! If it doesn’t, give them a little more time (check back every 10 minutes) and try again. When they are good, cover each pan with a light towel and transfer the pans to the fridge.

We have found the bagels to turn out best when we let the dough “retard” (the technical term) in the fridge overnight. You can leave them in the fridge for up to two days until you are ready to make them. The last time we did these, my wake up call was actually the smell of fresh bagels coming from the oven as Jor woke up a little early to finish the bagels! There is NO BETTER way to wake up than to freshly baked bagels. I felt like my kitchen became my very own Einstein’s Bagels!

The next morning, or whenever you are ready to bake the bagels, take them out of the fridge and preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add a tablespoon of baking soda. Drop in the bagels but make sure not to crowd the bagels. In my pot, I only added four at a time. The bagels should float in about 10 seconds and you want to let them sit on one side for a minute and then flip them over to boil for one more minute. (If you like chewier bagels, boil them closer to 2 minutes on each side.)

Bagels boiling in water and baking soda. 1 minute on each side.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the bagels and place back on the baking sheet.

Bagels after boil and ready for the oven.

Once all the bagels have been boiled, they are ready for the oven. Let them cook for about 5 minutes, rotate the pans 180 degrees and then lower the heat to 450 degrees. Let the bagels bake for another 5 minutes or until they start to become slightly brown on top. Remove them from the oven and let them cool on cooling rack for about 10 minutes.

Bagels straight from the oven cooling.

One more step: EAT!

Fresh bagel with a little bit of butter.

I know that was a lot of steps and may seem a little overwhelming to attempt. That’s how I was for the longest time! I’d see the recipe and watch Jor as he made it look simple as pie but I never wanted to tackle them myself. But, if you take it step by step, they aren’t half as intimidating as they first appear and they are not nearly as difficult as I had cracked them up to be in my mind! For me, they were a great weekend kitchen project and we’ve now spoiled ourselves so much with them that we haven’t purchased store bought bagels since we made these! It might go without saying but it’s true that the more times you make these, the easier they get and the less “project”-like they become! They require a little more effort than the quickbreads and muffins that I really do love but the extra time for these bagels is completely worth it the moment you slice open that fresh bagel and watch the bit of butter just melt over the surface!! YUM! Try it, share with friends and they really might be calling your kitchen the new Einstein’s bagel! For now, that’s cinnamon raisin bagels…in the shell of a nut!

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