Maple Cinnamon Bagels (Guest Post)
There is no such thing as too much cinnamon.* For many years that saying has been true for me.
I’ve always loved cinnamon; when I was a kid I used to enjoy cinnamon in sweet rice (a dish my brother and I survived on, sometimes literally, during our childhood). I sucked on hot atomic fireballs whenever I found myself craving cigarettes, back when I quit smoking nearly 11 years ago. A few years ago, I tested my resolve when I accidentally dumped what had to have been two tablespoons of cinnamon into a little pot of oatmeal. All I’d wanted to do was add a few dashes but the jar’s top was broken. What I thought was too much cinnamon was actually tasty– hot and spicy, but so tasty.
While I like the idea of cinnamon in breads, many of the cinnamon breads I’ve seen offered in stores and bakeries also contain raisins. I like raisins; I just don’t like raisins in things. Cookies? Nope. Savory dishes? Nope. Sweet dishes? Nope. Bread? Please just no.
A few years ago, a former co-worker brought some cinnamon bread into the office and we toasted it with butter and it was really great, except for the fact that I had to pick out all of the raisins. I just resigned myself to the fact that I would never get to have cinnamon bread the way I liked it. Until I started baking.
“The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart has a great recipe for bagels and he even includes a grace note for cinnamon raisin bagels, which I have modified. The idea for this recipe was prompted by Allison, who brought me bagels from Bagels Forever the last time she was home in Madison, Wisconsin. She asked for bagel requests, and I said I’d be happy with anything– but also told her not to bother with cinnamon raisin bagels. (While I’m able to pick raisins out of some things, I have my limits.)
She brought home a nice variety: some jalapeño cornbread bagels, poppyseed and sesame bagels, and two maple cinnamon bagels. They were sweet, and the maple flavor was very apparent; the cinnamon was a good compliment. They made for two memorable breakfasts.
I vowed since buying The Bread Baker’s Apprentice that I would figure out a way to make maple cinnamon bagels. The first time I made them, I used two tablespoons of cinnamon rather than the one tablespoon Reinhart suggested and followed his advice on the amount of sugar. I also added ¼ cup maple syrup and left out the addition of honey or malted barley syrup (which I don’t have, though the recipe for plain bagels calls for it).
The bagels came out rather lovely; they weren’t as sweet as the bagels Allison brought back from Wisconsin, but they didn’t need to be. They’re good with butter or cream cheese, but I also want to try making a sandwich with bacon and an egg out of one. Maple and bacon go so well together.
* Actually, there is such a thing as too much cinnamon, but you will never find me trying “the cinnamon challenge.” As a former smoker, I’ve done enough damage to my lungs, not to mention it’s just silly, dangerous, and a waste of perfectly good cinnamon.
Print this recipe. (PDF)
Maple Cinnamon Bagels
Roughly adapted from the bagel recipe in “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
(Makes 12-14 bagels)
Sponge (Starter) Ingredients:
~ 1 tsp. instant yeast
~ 4 cups bread flour
~ 2½ cups water, at room temperature
~ ½ tsp. instant yeast
~ 3¼ cups bread flour
~ 2 tsp. salt
~ ¼ cup maple syrup
~ 5 Tbsp. sugar
~ 1–2 Tbsp. cinnamon (use 3 Tbsp. if you like to live dangerously)
~ 1 tsp. baking soda (for Day Two)
How to make it:
1. For the sponge: In a 4 quart mixing bowl, stir the yeast into the flour. Add the water and stir until it forms a nice sticky batter, like a thick pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 2 hours or until the sponge becomes bubbly.
2. For the dough: Stir the remaining instant yeast into the sponge. It should be very light, and as you stir, you will be able to see (some large) bubbles form and quickly pop. Stir in 3 cups of the bread flour (setting aside the remaining ¼ cup), and stir in the salt, maple syrup, sugar, and cinnamon. The dough will still feel light and airy as you mix it and there will be about half a cup of flour mixture at the bottom of the bowl. Transfer the dough onto a flat surface for kneading. Pour over the extra flour from the bottom of the bowl; incorporate this– along with the remaining ¼ cup bread flour– into the dough while kneading. After 10 minutes of kneading, you should have a smooth ball of dough; it shouldn’t be wet and sticky, but just a little tacky.
3. Immediately divide the dough into pieces weighing about 4.5 oz. each. (Peter Reinhart’s plain bagel recipe makes about 12 bagels; the added ingredients in this recipe result in about 14.) Cover the pieces of dough with a clean, slightly damp cloth and let rest for 20 minutes.
4. Shape the bagels: Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper, and spray the parchment with canola oil. Shape the dough using either one of the following two methods: 1) poke a hole in the middle of the ball and rotate your thumb inside of the hole to widen it to about 2 inches. Or, 2) roll the dough into an 8-inch rope. Wrap the rope around your palm to the back of your hand and pinch the ends of the rope together. Massage the ends into each other so that they seal. (I prefer the second method.)
5. Arrange the bagels about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets (6 bagels should fit on each sheet). Keep a plate handy with parchment paper sprayed with oil for any extra bagels. Lightly mist the bagels with canola oil, cover with plastic wrap and let proof at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Note: You don’t want to crowd the bagels on the cookie sheet; they should not touch each other during the overnight ferment/proofing. (The first time I made bagels, two touched during the overnight ferment and fused together only slightly. Then during boiling, these openings were infiltrated with water, so that even after baking, half of each of those two bagels was a slimy mess.)
6. Use the “float test” to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded, i.e., the final ferment in the fridge. A bagel is ready to be retarded when it floats within seconds of being placed in a bowl of water. Test this by simply placing one bagel in a shallow bowl of water. If it floats, take it out, gently pat it dry, and place it back on the cookie sheet. Re-cover the bagels with plastic wrap, and place the cookie sheets in the fridge overnight. (If the bagel doesn’t float to the top of the bowl of water, allow the bagels to continue fermenting at room temperature, re-testing every ten minutes. In the mild Santa Barbara weather, my bagels have always been ready for retarding after 20 minutes, but this may be different in other climates.)
7. Boil the bagels: The next morning– you are going to be making bagels in the morning, right?– add the baking soda to a large pot of water, and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, arrange two oven racks near the center of the oven, and preheat to 500 degrees F. Remove the bagels from the fridge and drop the bagels into the water, two at a time, or as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. Boil for one minute then flip over for another minute. You can place the boiled bagels back on the same parchment paper (or if you change the parchment paper, make sure to spray it with canola oil).
8. Bake the bagels: Once all of the bagels have boiled, place the cookie sheets into the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then switch the baking sheets and rotate them 180 degrees. Lower the oven to 450 degrees and bake for another 5 minutes at least– or if you like your bagels more golden, you can leave them in for 3 additional minutes.
9. Remove the pans from the oven and place bagels on a cooling rack for 15 minutes while you drink some coffee or tea and enjoy the smell of cinnamon before you tear into a bagel. Toast and smear with butter or cream cheese. It should taste like victory, subtly sweet victory.
Note: Bagels freeze very well in a freezer-safe plastic bag! Just defrost each bagel for 30 seconds in the microwave before toasting it.
Print this recipe! (PDF)