Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Last month, after finishing up med school, I had a looong list in my mind of things I really wanted to make during my time off before residency.  Of course, the list was so long I don’t think I would have been able to get through it even if I had a whole year off, but that’s okay.  I will get to it all eventually!  These bagels were right at the top of my list.  I first made homemade bagels last summer, and after making them successfully several times since, I  have been wanting to try some variations.  Cinnamon raisin was a logical first choice, and I decided I would just throw a handful of raisins and a spoonful of cinnamon into the dough of my usual bagel recipe.  Then, the very next day after I had thought about this, Smitten Kitchen posted cinnamon raisin bagels – and wouldn’t you know it, the base was the very same bagel recipe I always use.  So, rather than guessing and possibly messing up the amount of cinnamon and/or raisins, I just used the variation described on her blog.


Let me just say, these were heavenly.  I didn’t think it could get much better than regular homemade bagels, but now we’ve gone to a whole other level of awesome.  I am now totally inspired to try lots more flavor variations, some traditional and some not so much.  I am glad I read her entry on these bagels because I would not have known to rinse the raisins before using to remove any wild yeast on them.  Great tip!  Normally I get 12 bagels out of a batch, but due to the addition of a whole bunch of raisins, this time I got 14 large bagels.  These are really best for the first three days after making them, and then they become significantly more stale, so either make a half batch or freeze them if you won’t finish them in that time period.  (We shared ours with friends.  Everyone loves homemade bagels!)

Yield: 12 large or 24 mini bagels

For the sponge:
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 ½ cups (20 ounces) water, at room temperature

For the dough:
½ teaspoon (.055 ounces) instant yeast
3 ¾ cups (17 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
5 tbsp. sugar
2 ¾ teaspoons (.7 ounce) salt
2 teaspoons (.33 ounce) malt powder OR 1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar
2 cups loosely packed raisins, rinsed to remove surface sugar, acid and wild yeast 

To finish:
1 tablespoon baking soda
cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting

1. To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl.  Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter).  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly.  It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir.  Then add 3 cups of the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.  In the last couple minutes of mixing, add the raisins.  You may need to add a bit more flour at this point, due to any extra moisture that was added with the raisins.

3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine).  The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth.  There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated.  The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F.  If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading.  If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achiever the stiffness required.  The kneaded dough should feels satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

4. Immediately divide the dough into equal sized, 4 ½-ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls.

5. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

6. Line two sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil.  Proceed with shaping the bagels by pushing a hole through the center and stretching out the hole to 2 ½ inches in diameter.

7. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pan.  Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

8. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”.  Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water.  The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water.  Take one bagel and test it.  If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days).  If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats.  The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

9. The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500° F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda.  Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

10. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds).  After 1 minute flip them over and boil another minute.  If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side.  While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-line sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour.  (If you decided to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.)

11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven.  Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation.  (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.)  After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450° F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown.  You may bake them darker if you prefer.

12. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.

Source: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, 10 Speed Press, 2001, as seen on Smitten Kitchen

22 Responses

  1. Lookin good!

  2. Too funny! I was just thinking today how I really wanted to try making bagels this weekend. And cinnamon raisin was going to be my flavor of choice! Can’t wait to try these out!

  3. I have almost everything to make these! Mmmm! I don’t like raisins though, think craisins would be good?

    • Hi Carrie,
      I think craisins are a great idea. I am actually hoping to try a variation with those sometime in the fall probably. I think craisins are good with everything!
      🙂 Annie

  4. They look perfect. Very tasty looking.

  5. You’re a woman who knows how to prioritize. 😉

  6. a question to you 🙂
    how do you keep your recipes orgazined??? I always have trouble, having notes with recipes everywhere and a few notebooks with recipes I notice and want to try making, but then forget to write down if the recipe was actually a keeper after making it… any hints???
    thanks 🙂
    oh yes, I LOVE YOUR BLOG!

    • My open roads,
      Hi! So sorry it took me such a long time to respond to your question. I have been out of town on a much-needed vacation and had a horrible internet connection while I was away. Anyway, I have a couple methods of keeping recipes organized. For recipes that I find in blogs I read, I use Google Reader. If you are not familiar with it, you need to become so ASAP. It is super simple to just “star” any recipes you are interested in trying, and you can even categorize them into folders if you wish.

      In addition to Google Reader, I have two separate word documents on my computer of recipes I would like to try. One is for recipes from websites (Williams Sonoma, Whole Foods, etc.), organized into categories such as appetizers, beverages, entrees, etc. The other is for recipes I want to try from cookbooks and or magazines. For this list, I categorize by the publication and list out the recipes I want to try. Then, once I have tried a recipe, I delete it from its respective list. This may seem complicated, but it has been the best way for me so far and it works very well. (Also, when I am lacking inspiration or having a tough time deciding, I simply choose something that has been on the list the longest. Problem solved!)

      I hope that helps some.
      🙂 Annie

  7. I’m very impressed, as usual, they look delicious!

    I was convinced I’d learn Lithuanian (my hubby’s native language) inbetween grad school and my postdoc. The break ended up being 2 weeks, so you can imagine how that went 🙂

  8. Awesome job! We loved these so much that I made them two weeks in a row 😉 Mmmm I could go for one right now!

  9. Med School? What an accomplishment! Congrats!

    Oh and these bagels look delicious.. better than the store bought ones with who knows what preservatives in them..

  10. I’m really hoping I can find the stuff to make these here in Korea. I’ve never made bagels before, but it’s at the top of my list too!

  11. I have to admit that I don’t really have the patience to make home-made bagels, but yours do look fantastic.

  12. My favorite bagel…. wow, WELL DONE!!!!!!!!!!!! Can I come over for breakfast?! 🙂

  13. these look great and i’d like to try the recipe but i have two questions:

    1) do you think regular gold medal AP unbleached flour would work?

    2) how did you shape your bagels? smitten kitchen’s recipe lists two ways (one involves poking a hole and the other is sealing a long rope in a circle).

    thanks annie!

    • Hello,
      I think the bread flour is very important for making bagels. It has higher protein content which allows you to develop the gluten more, resulting in the chewy texture we all love in bagels. As for shaping, I use the poking method. I find this to be the easiest.
      🙂 Annie

  14. Oh yum! I just made plain bagels a couple weeks ago and was thrilled with them. Definitely time to branch out to these!

  15. these look delicious! can you find “malt” powder just at the regular grocery store, with the baking items? i haven’t ever seen it, but i haven’t looked very closely yet! thank you 🙂

    • Michelle,
      I’m not sure, I always just use the brown sugar sub so I’ve never tried to look for malt powder.

  16. I just made these this past weekend and they were AMAZING!!! I’ve tried making bagels in the past and they were so pathetic that I gave up trying to make them. These turned out to be like real bagels from a bakery! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe 🙂

  17. I make red, gold, green, black chili because it’s healthy, simple, quick and its hard to stop eating after one serving! Great with warm rolls or bread sticks and a hearty salad!

  18. I have tried these twice and am striking out! It’s my first try at bagels but I’ve made a lot of yeast breads before and I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong. My first batch never passed the float test, so I threw them out, my second batch took almost 3 hours to pass the float test!

    Although they didn’t puff up as nicely as yours, they look like bagels on the inside, and they taste like bagels, so it wasn’t too much of a fail.

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