a baker's dozen ~ cinnamon raisin bagels

Sunday, March 27, 2011
It's no secret that I love bread. I've been kinda on a yeasted bread making kick. Well not as much as my peanut/peanut butter obsession, but still alot.

Usually my adventures into yeast doughs are pizza dough, and that's it. This year it's been a little different. I've gone out of my comfort zone and made alot of breads and rolls and I'm so glad.

Homemade bread is amazing.

These bagels are no different. They are thick, bready and chewy without all the unhealthy commercial additives you usually get with bagels bought at a grocery store.

They did take a few hours to complete and a good long knead (this is where arm muscles are really needed), but overall they were not as daunting as I had initially anticipated.

They may not have the most perfect, rounded shape but I kind of like that. It shows that they are handmade, and the taste will make up for any visual flaw.

I had one for breakfast, toasted with a healthy schmear of cream cheese, but the husband enjoys them plain.

The bottoms have a lovely crunch, the insides a chewy, bread, density which is key to a bagel, studded with plumped raisins and swirled with cinnamon.

I'm suggesting, if you've got a free Saturday or Sunday kicking around, wake up early and start these bagels, should be done around 5 pm after all the kneading, resting and baking. Trust me, the reward on Sunday morning is worth it.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
{ adapted from the Bread Baker's Apprentice via Smitten Kitchen }

Makes 12 super-huge bagels, 16 regularly huge or 24 baby bagels. I got 16 good sized bagels.

1 teaspoon instant yeast (I used regular dry active, worked fine)
4 cups unbleached bread flour or high gluten flour
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature

1 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour or high gluten flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons white sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey or brown sugar
2 cups loosely packed raisins, rinsed to remove surface sugar, acid or yeast

to finish:
1 tablespoon baking soda
cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
melted butter for brushing (optional)
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling (optional)\

To make the sponge, stir together the flour and yeast in a large bowl, add water and stir until just combined. Should resemble a pancake batter, very smooth and sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours. You will know it's ready when the sponge has doubled in size, is foamy and bubbled and will deflate when bowl is tapped on the counter.

To make the dough, in the same bowl as the sponge (or in a bowl of your stand mixer) add the yeast and stir to combine. Add 3 cups of flour and using the dough hook on your stand mixer, stir on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour to the dough, to stiffen dough, continuing the mixer on low speed. Add the raisins in the last part of mixing. Note : I found it difficult for my mixer to properly mix the raisins in the dough, so I turned the dough out on the counter with the raisins and kneaded them in by hand.

Turn dough out onto counter and knead for at least 10 minutes, or 6 minutes in your stand mixer. The dough should be really stiff, yet it'll be really smooth and pliable. The dough shouldn't be sticky, if it is, knead in more flour as needed. Immediately cut the dough into 12, 16 or 24 pieces and shape each piece into a roll.  Cover rolls with a damp towel and let rest for at least 10 minutes.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Using your fingers, poke a hole in the center of the roll and rotate your thumb through the hole until it's 2 1/2  inches in diameter for a jumbo bagel , 2 inches for a large one and a wee bit more than an inch for the mini bagels. Also, be sure that the bagels are stretched evenly, no fat or skinny parts.

Set each bagel on the prepared pans at least 2 inches apart and spray tops with a little bit of non-stick spray and cover each pan loosely with plastic wrap. Let sit for at least 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, in a bowl of room temperature water, drop one of the bagels in. If it floats within 10 seconds, pat dry and place back on baking sheet. The bagels are now ready to be retarded in the refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days. Note : I only retarded mine for 4 hours and they turned out fine. I followed Deb from Smitten kitchen who did the same thing.

Once you are ready to bake, whether it be the next day or in a few hours, place oven racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, the wider the pot the better. Once boiling add the baking soda and remove the bagels from the oven. Gently drop the bagels into the water, only putting in as many as you are comfortable with, for me that's 4. The bagels will float within seconds of being dropped in the water. Boil the first side for a minute and then flip and boil for another minute. If you feel like a chewier bagel, boil each side for 2 minutes. Continue until all the bagels are boiled. Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal and place boiled bagels back on baking sheets.

Place baking sheets in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, rotate the pans between the racks (top pan to bottom rack and vise-versa) and rotate the pans 180 degrees. Turn oven temperature down to 450 degrees and continue cooking until bagels have turned golden brown, about 5 - 10 minutes.

Remove pans from oven and let bagels cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. If you want, you may brush the hot bagels with melted butter and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar. I skipped this step, but I'm sure it wouldn't be horrible.