A Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Bagel!?!
I never made bagels until I went to culinary school. For whatever reason, I thought that they must be difficult to make. I was amazed to learn in school that they are actually quite simple. And that makes sense – there’s not much to a bagel.
What Makes a Bagel a Bagel?
That said, there is one critical ingredient to make a true New York bagel: malt. A true New York bagel requires (yes, I said it: requires) malt, whether in syrup or powder form.
What is Malt?
Malt powder (or syrup) is a sweet derivative of roasted barley. In this recipe (and most bagel recipes), we use non-diastatic malt, which means that the malt was heated to the point of killing the enzymes contained in it. Diastatic malt therefore has active enzymes in it and is used in bread recipes to assist with rising and conditioning the dough. Non-diastatic malt, which is more commonly used in bagels, simply provides a touch of sweetness and deeper color in the bagels without affecting the rise or dough consistency.
In this recipe, the malt is therefore not a key ingredient in terms of the structure of the bagel. It is, however, a key ingredient in terms of flavor. There are recipes out there that use “substitutes” for malt such as molasses and brown sugar. Those bagels may come out good, but they are not (I repeat NOT!) true New York bagels.
We Don’t “Love” Substitutes
And remember: a substitute is just that. It is a second-best replacement for an ideal ingredient. If you are going to take the time and energy to make something, don’t you want it to be the best? I do. So, if you are going to make these bagels, plan in advance and buy the non-diastatic malt powder. It is readily available at King Arthur Flour (where I buy it) and sometimes Amazon. I prefer the powder to malt barley syrup* because the powder is easier to work with and has a longer shelf life.
How is a Cinnamon Raisin Bagel Different from a Plain Bagel?
This recipe is based on the bagel recipe I was provided in culinary school at the International Culinary Center in New York City. I LOVE this recipe and have made some stupendous bagels with it. However, in school, we did not make cinnamon raisin bagels. We made a plain bagel and were able to use various seed toppings. To adapt that recipe for cinnamon raisin, I had to make one alteration – more yeast. (Nerd alert: cinnamon slows down yeast development, so I had to compensate for that to achieve a perfectly doughy and chewy result.)
I initially added cinnamon and just kneaded it into the dough. Because the cinnamon was so dry, it was difficult to get it to incorporate into the dough. The end result was a somewhat dry bagel. I then decided that the cinnamon would probably knead in better if it were wet. So, I added water to the cinnamon to create a paste. Plus, I realized that the wet cinnamon would prevent the cinnamon from absorbing moisture from the bagel dough. Voila!!!
This recipe comes together very easily with a mixer. I use a KitchenAid 5 Quart Professional. If you have a less powerful mixer like the KitchenAid Artisan, the dough may be too stiff and cause your motor to overheat and turn off at some point during the kneading process. If the motor sounds like it is overworking, I suggest turning it off and finish kneading by hand. It’s actually a good workout and is quite therapeutic!
As I said, these bagels are super simple to make:
- Mix Ingredients. Mix your yeast with the water and approximately 1 tsp. of the sugar. Once foamy, add the flour, malt powder, and sugar. It will take a few minutes for the dough to come together. Resist the urge to add more water. If, after about 3 minutes, the dough has not come together, add 1 tsp. of water. Unless you live in the dessert or it’s a particularly dry day, you should not need more water than that.
- Knead and Add Salt. By about the 7 minute mark, slow down the mixer and start adding the salt. (Nerd alert: We wait to add the salt because salt, when first combined with yeast, can kill some of the yeast or slow the yeast development in the dough.) Once the dough is formed, the yeast reacts much more kindly to the salt, and it actually helps the yeast develop. Knead for about 5 more minutes.
- Windowpane Test. Do the windowpane test to make sure the gluten in the dough is fully developed.
- Add Cinnamon and Raisins. Once the dough passes the windowpane test, add your “cinnamon paste”. Knead the dough until it is almost marbled. Then add the raisins and knead until fully incorporated. (I usually get some of the raisins kneaded in with the mixer and finish it off kneading by hand.)
- Shape and Rest. Shape the bagels. For a video on how to shape them, see my Bagel Making video saved on my Instagram profile. Cover in plastic wrap and pop them into the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate overnight. This helps the flavor develop further while slowing down the fermentation process.
- Boil and Bake. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature, approximately 45-60 minutes. Then boil and bake. Be careful not to linger too long after boiling before baking. It is best to get them into the oven within a few minutes after boiling.
Just as I explained in my Sourdough Everything Bagel recipe, I have not included U.S. volume measurements for this recipe. Bread formulas are very precise. There is too much disparity when measuring 1 cup of flour. If you are going to make my bagels, I want you to end up with a desired result – not a rubbery, dense bagel. If you still need to buy a scale (shame, SHAME!), see my post on Weighing v. Measuring for some recommendations.
For a video tutorial on how to make bagels, please visit the saved video in my Instagram profile.
*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
- Rather than 6 bagels, you can also get 7 bagels from this recipe. At Step 5, weigh the dough and divide that number by 7. Each bagel will be approximately 118 grams.
- Once baked and cooled, the bagels can be stored in the freezer for months. I recommend slicing them before freezing. To defrost, wrap each bagel individually in foil, place in cold oven, and turn oven on to 350°F. Within a few minutes of your oven reaching 350°F, your bagels should be defrosted and nicely warmed, begging for butter or cream cheese to be shmeared all over them.