Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

I’ve been itching to make these cinnamon raisin bagels for quite some time. In years past, I’d attempted plain and whole wheat, but all along I had my eye on the ultimate goal – this recipe right here. Cinnamon raisin bagels have long been my favorite, and if you do a little bit of looking around the web, you’ll find that this bagel recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice is the standard against which all others are judged. Having received such high praise from so many, I’m not sure how or why I put these off for so long. With rain, rain and more rain in the forecast this week, it proved to be the perfect opportunity to finally tackle this project.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

So, a couple of things about this recipe. First, ideally it’s spread over 2 days, so you do need to plan ahead a bit. Most of the work is done on the first day; on the second day you’re only boiling the bagels and baking them, both of which happen pretty quickly. Let’s back up and talk about the dough for a minute though. 99.9% of the time that I make something with yeast, I let my stand mixer do all of the work, even the kneading. It’s faster and easier, so why not? Well, the “why not” here is that this bagel dough is so stiff and heavy that I was worried it was going to burn out my motor. I started in the mixer, but once I saw how much it was straining, I decided to finish by hand. I literally put the dough on a board, sat down in front of the tv and kneaded, probably for 15 minutes total. So, I guess the good news is that you can definitely make this recipe by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer, and the better news is that you’ll get quite an arm workout in the process!

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

At the end of the day, the payoff is worth it for these bagels. They smell amazing when they emerge from the oven, and they taste even better. Toasted and slathered with butter, these were so good I called them dessert one night. The recipe does make a lot of bagels, but they freeze well so I don’t mind. If I’m going to put forth the effort to make them, why not stash a bunch in the freezer for a quick weekend treat?

PS – If you get started on these today or tomorrow, they’ll be ready just in time if you happen to be hosting a Mother’s Day brunch this weekend! What mom wouldn’t love homemade bagels? :)

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (as seen on Smitten Kitchen and Annie’s Eats)

Sponge
1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups (18 oz) bread flour
2 1/2 cups (20 oz) water, at room temperature

Dough
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups (17 oz) bread flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
2 cups loosely packed raisins, rinsed

To Finish
1 tablespoon baking soda
cornmeal for dusting

To make the sponge: Whisk the yeast and flour together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water and whisk until incorporated – the mixture will be fairly thick and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very bubbly and swells to almost double its original size.

To make the dough: Add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir to incorporate. Add 3 cups of the flour, the cinnamon, sugar, salt and brown sugar (or honey) and attach the bowl to your stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until the ingredients come together in a ball, gradually adding the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough. In the last few minutes of mixing, add the raisins and allow the mixer to incorporate them into the dough.

Kneading the dough: You can continue to knead in your mixer, but fair warning, the dough is very heavy. I didn’t want to risk damaging my mixer so I did it by hand. By hand you’ll have to knead the dough for at least 10 minutes – you want a pliable, smooth dough that’s satiny and not tacky to the touch. You can add additional water or flour as necessary to achieve the right consistency.

Divide the dough into 4 1/2 oz pieces for the bagels (that will make a fairly large bagel so feel free to use smaller portions if you prefer). Shape each piece into a roll and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for about 20 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with parchment and spray them lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

To shape the bagels: Flatten the ball of dough slightly then poke a hole through the center. Stretch and rotate the dough until the hole is about 2 1/2 inches in diameter (or slightly smaller if you’ve made your portions less than 4 1/2 oz each). Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and repeat with all of the dough balls (dividing them evenly between the two baking sheets). Spray the tops of the bagels lightly with nonstick cooking spray and cover each baking sheet loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

To determine whether the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator use the “float test.” Fill a small bowl with room temperature water and place one of the bagels in the water. If the bagel floats within 10 seconds of being placed in the water, they are ready to move to the fridge. If so, remove the bagel from the water, pat dry and place back on the baking sheet. (Note: you only need to test one bagel – not all of them.) If the bagel doesn’t float, continue to proof at room temperature and perform the float test again every 10-20 minutes, or until it floats. When the bagels are ready to be retarded, place the loosely covered baking sheets in the refrigerator overnight (or up to 2 days).

When you’re ready to bake the bagels, preheat oven to 500 F, with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Bring a large pot (the wider the pot, the better) of water to a boil, then add the baking soda.

Remove the bagels from the refrigerator. A few at a time (as many as can comfortably fit in your pot), drop them into the boiling water. They should float to the top fairly quickly. Boil for 1 minute per side, flipping them with a spider strainer. While the bagels are boiling, dust the baking sheets they were on with cornmeal. Remove the bagels to the dusted baking sheets and repeat until they’ve all been boiled.

Bake both pans of bagels in the oven for about 5 minutes, then rotate the pans (switch the racks they’re on and give them a 180-degree flip). Reduce the oven temperature to 450 F and continue baking for another 5 minutes, or until the bagels are light golden brown. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the bagels cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Makes about 14 large bagels