Ah, beautiful Panera. Every year, you send me a birthday email and a coupon for a free treat from that luscious bakery case. It’s so hard to choose just one. Should I get a bearclaw? A pecan roll? Oh my goodness . . . and what about the bagels?
Speaking of bagels, (In thick New York accent:) how ’bout them cinnamon crunch bagels from Panera? There are few things in life more classically paired than sugar and cinnamon. They are the Ken and Barbie of the culinary world– eternally linked together everywhere they go. You find cinnamon sugar everywhere from the spice aisle to the poptart row. They shine in everything from apple pie (recipe here) to the creation of a killer . . . CINNAMON CRUNCH BAGEL!
Unfortunately, my Panera birthday reward just doesn’t come often enough to satisfy my craving. So I did what anyone else would do– made my own. And you thought I was just going to say “buy one,” didn’t you? Haha. How little you know me.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Cinnamon Crunch Bagels
(adapted from a basic Allrecipes.com bagel recipe)
1 1/4 cups water
4 1/2 cups flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. oil
1 tbsp. instant yeast
Bagel Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Few drops water
In a mixing bowl, combine water, sugar, oil, and instant yeast and whisk to mix. Add in 1/2 cup flour and the salt; whisk again. Gradually add in enough flour to form a shaggy dough. Pour dough onto a floured silpat and knead until soft and pliable. Place bread dough in a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise for 1.5 hours. When the dough has finished its first rise, gently deflate it and divide into 8-9 dough balls (depending on how large you want your finished bagels to be). Roll each ball into a circle and gently flatten. Allow bagels to rise, covered, on the baking sheet for 45 minutes. Drop each bagel into boiling water and allow to boil for 1 minute per side. Drain the bagels and top with a spoonful of cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, or until golden brown, and allow to cool on cooling rack.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
To start with, get out a nice blue bowl and combine your water, sugar, oil, and instant yeast. Well . . . if you don’t have a blue bowl, any color is fine, I suppose 😉 What is instant yeast???? I’m so glad you asked. If you do any kind of yeast bread baking, at all, and you’ve never heard of instant yeast . . . you seriously need to meet it. Unlike the rapid rise or active dry yeast packets you buy at the average grocery store, instant yeast doesn’t need to be “proofed.” That just means that you don’t have to do the “sit for 5 minutes in warm water until mixture is foamy” step that most yeast packets call for. You grab your instant yeast out of the freezer and add it directly to your recipe, without any proofing necessary. It’s just great. And it keeps for up to 5 years in the freezer, so no more realizing that your yeast is dead AFTER you spend 4 hours trying to making homemade cinnamon rolls, only to realize that they are still the size of golf balls instead of the pillowy, gorgeous delights they are supposed to be. I like SAF RED instant yeast the best. You can buy it from King Arthur flour here. Not only will you be getting a top-notch product, but you will also be supporting a top-notch, American-made, employee-owned company based on Vermont. Yes, please.
At this point, add about 1/2 cup of flour, and then your salt. But why can’t I just add my salt with all the other ingredients???? Why are you ruining my life!!!!!
Well, I’ll tell you why. I have said this before, and I’ll say it, again. Yeast and salt are like a pair of exes at their child’s wedding. You need both of them there, but you try to keep them as far away from each other as possible, or things are going to get ugly. Yeast and salt are the feuding exes. The flour has to be in there, first, to make sure that they are a little hidden from each other.
You just prevented WWIII. Good job.
Add enough flour to make a stiff dough, and then knead the dough on a floured silpat until it is nice and soft, like a human earlobe. For more on kneading and how to do it, check out my basic white bread tutorial here. Classic NY bagels require a very high gluten content (generally special “bread” flour and sometimes even added bread improver/powdered gluten), and a “window” of dough, but I just used regular, all-purpose flour and kneaded this dough like I would any other bread dough, and they came out fine. If you want your bagels to be a lot chewier and tougher, try using a high gluten flour and kneading the dough until it is almost too tough to knead (it will practically fight you as you try to maneuver it). These bagels have a chewy exterior but a softer inside, and that’s just fine with me.
Place your dough ball into a greased bowl, mist the top with cooking spray, and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about an hour and a half– until doubled in size.
When your dough has doubled, gently deflate it and divide into 8-9 small pieces. If you want big, Panera-sized bagels, do 8 pieces. If you want smaller, “orange” sized bagels, do 9 dough balls. It’s easiest to divide dough evenly when you split it into sections and divide those (for 8 bagels divide dough in half, then the halves in half, then each in half again).
Roll each dough ball into a round ball and place it on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Gently flatten each ball with your hands, so that they are bagel-shaped, rather than round. Classic Panera cinnamon crunch bagels do not have a hole in the center, but if you want a hole in your bagels, pole a generous hole in the center of the doughball with your finger. Make your hole about the size of a silver dollar so that you don’t lose it when the bagel rises. Cover the dough balls and allow them to rise for 45 minutes, until they’re nice and puffy.
When the dough has about 15 minutes left on its rise time, go ahead and get your boiling water ready. What in the WORLD is that??? Is that water BROWN??? GROSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Don’t worry, my love. To give bagels their chewy, hard exterior, we need to add 2 tbsp. of some kind of sugar to our water. You can use plain sugar, maple syrup, molasses, honey . . . even King’s syrup (which is what I used), to your water as it is heating up. This sugar will make your dough balls into nice, chewy bagels.
While the bagels are rising, and the water is heating . . . (you’re quite the multi-tasker . . . are you a Mom??), go ahead and get that classic cinnamon crunch topping going. Mix your turbinado sugar (kind of a chunky brown sugar also called “Sugar in the Raw” in the baking aisle) and cinnamon, together, in your beautiful blue bowl. The cinnamon tends to shift to the bottom and not play nice with the sugar, which is where the few drops of water come in. Add a drop or two of water to your sugar mixture and kind of “stroke” it, almost like you’re petting a dog, until the water makes the sugar gently clump and come together, like in my picture. Perfect.
Well, look at that. Your 45 minutes are up, and it’s time to boil us some bagels! Get your water at a nice, rolling boil, and carefully slide your bagels, 1 at a time, into the water. Ahhh . . . this hot bath is really nice, isn’t it? Where are the bubbles! Give each bagel 1 minute per side in the hot water. Try to keep the water boiling, but don’t stress if the water loses a little heat when you drop the cool dough in. Just keep the water as close to boiling as you can.
When the bagels have boiled for 1 minute per side, use a slotted spoon or pancake turner to remove them from the water. Allow the excess water to drip off the bagels before you place them on the silpat-lined baking sheet. Take a generous spoonful of that glorious sugar/cinnamon mixture we just made, and spread it across the top.
Bake these little guys at 425 for 15-17 minutes, until the topping has caramelized and the bread part is golden brown and lovely. Let them cool on a cooling rack once they finish perfecting their summer tans.
Oh my goodness. Will you look at that??? Seriously. Doesn’t that just make you drool? Reach through the computer and take a bite. I’m in a giving mood, today. I’ll share. And you don’t even have to wait for your birthday for these ones.
Or you could just make yourself AN ENTIRE BATCH. That’s right. No more driving to Panera. No more waiting for the elusive birthday reward. Now you can have these cinnamon crunch bagels (whispering . . .) anytime you want.
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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