The air is still and there is no sound to be heard anywhere. The dead silence, that of which would normally instill fear, is actually quite comforting. It is a different kind of silence. One that is alluring and peaceful. The sun has yet to make its presence this Sunday autumn morning. Bluish-gray shadows are cast throughout the sleeping house. The hour is far too early for anyone. Yet I awaken and get dressed. I wrap myself up in warm clothing. A heavy coat and scarf. I step outside into the chilly morning air. It hits me like a razor cutting my face, and it takes me a minute to register how cold it actually is. For a split second I rethink my idea. The warmth of my bed and the prospect of more sleep calls back to me. That second passes and I leave my home, a destination in mind, my family still sleeping. Still dreaming. I walk at a brisk pace, mostly because I have long legs therefore I naturally take long strides, but mainly because I am freezing and I figure walking fast will fix this problem. There is no doubt in my mind that fall has arrived. The leaves have changed their colors to those of an orange, yellow, red and brown hue. They have begun to fall, swirling through the air and gliding as with a purpose. A purpose to die. I marvel at how autumn makes everything look so beautiful. In my head I tell myself, “Jonathan, autumn makes everything look so beautiful.” Even small ordinary things that I would never have noticed before seem to stand out during this season. I glance around taking in my surroundings. The houses lining the streets seem so peaceful and festive with their pumpkin littered porches. Halloween decorations appear every now and then and I get excited. An excitement that appears during this time of year. Halloween is almost here, one of many holidays to come.
I walk through a park, a path of trees with nothing but nature on both sides and an empty playground. The leaves crunch under my feet as I continue towards my destination. The light begins to warm up and I stare up off into the distance and there like a beacon of hope, the sun has begun its decent. Through the mountains and the clouds, the trees and the leaves, the bushes and the grass, rays of sunlight creep through each crevice and hit the ground. The shapes and shadows that the light creates onto the fallen leaves brings back memories of elementary school. The days when life was so carefree and I knew nothing about worries and work. As a child, I’d throw myself on the ground, onto the grass and the leaves. I’d roll around and play without disturbance or burden. Life was so simple then and I am reminded of how one must cherish every moment in life, for it does not always last. I snap out of my trance and I remember of my goal this morning. I start up again, exiting the park and back to civilization.
I approach a small local mom and pop convenience store. Nice to see that they too are not immune to autumn and halloween. The glowing fluorescent light through the glass doors and windows invite and entice me. I walk up the steps onto the porch and I reach for the door. I enter—bell ringing—repeating the same words in my head, “Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese. Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese. Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese.” I repeat it over and over so as not to forget. I could have just written it down but I was far too lazy this morning. After all it was early. I gather my groceries and check out, bidding a thank you and good day to the “I-would-rather-be-sleeping” clerk. Mom and pop decided to sleep in apparently. I exit, the bell jingling once more. I make my way back home, groceries in hand. I hold on to them tightly hoping that I do not have a Home Alone moment where the bags rip causing my groceries to fall on the floor. Luckily I make it home without such a travesty. I walk in and remove my scarf and coat. I hang them on the wall, taking off my shoes and schlepp the groceries to the kitchen. My domain. I put away my recent purchases and begin to rattle around through the cabinets. I take out a few skillets, turn on some music on low, and I begin to cook. As I put breakfast together, the house begins to awaken. I hear movement upstairs, the girls starting their routines. I’m greeted with one sister who has now entered the kitchen and begins to set the table. We hear a car pull up and it can only mean one thing, our sister has come for Sunday breakfast. Sure enough a familiar “hello,” echos through the house. My older sister holding her coffee—she has to bring her own as none of us drink coffee in our house—and the Sunday Times. It would not be sunday breakfast without the reading of the horoscopes.
Mom comes down just in time, at the precise moment when the bagels hit the table. Warm and aromatic, cinnamon raisin bagels that I made the day before. The girls stare at them with anticipation, for they know all too well what I was making yesterday. The long process had forced them to wait until this morning to eat one. However they are a perfect addition to the morning menu. Bagels are not as complicated as one might think. They do have various steps that need to be completed throughout an entire day or a two day process but for the most part, they are fairly simple. I often tell people that if I can do it, anyone can do it. We sit around the table, music still on, catching up on the weeks’ occurrences and the news that needs to be shared. I look around at the delicious food, and my beautiful family and I am filled with a joy that cannot be described or explained. Autumn is all about sitting around a table and catching up with family and friends. The fall seems to bring people together and it forces us to appreciate and thank those in our lives who make a difference. I am thankful for these women who have made my life so incredible and for all that they have taught me. The youngest in a family full of women is not always easy but it sure is fun.
We begin by making a sponge.
**Note: The sponge and dough method is a two step process. The sponge is first made and allowed to rest and ferment for a period of time. It is basically developing rich flavor for the dough. In the second step the remaining ingredients are added to the sponge creating the dough.**
For the sponge we begin with flour.
I like to use a high gluten flour such as bread flour for when I make bread. Place it in a large bowl. I just used the bowl of a mixer, it will make mixing easier later on.
Throw in half of the yeast (about a teaspoon).
Whisk it all together to make sure it is evenly incorporated.
Pour in the water.
You don’t have to worry about the water being a certain temperature. Just room temperature is fine.
Whisk in the water until the mixture is smooth and somewhat thick. It should resemble a slightly thicker pancake batter.
If it is too stiff, add a bit more water and mix.
Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours. This will give the sponge time to ferment and double in size.
After two hours the sponge should double in volume and appear to be frothy and bubbly.
Once the sponge is ready, you can add, to the same bowl, the rest of the ingredients for the dough.
The remainder of the yeast (another teaspoon).
Mix in the yeast.
Add the rest of the flour (3 cups).
And now for the remaining dry ingredients.
We of course need cinnamon. These are cinnamon raisin bagels after all. You cannot have one without the other.
Also add some salt.
The next ingredient is malt powder.
Now I know what you must be thinking, “What in the world is ‘malt’ powder Jonathan?” Well thank you for asking. Malt powder, which is normally listed as “Malted Milk” powder is basically just sweetened dry milk. Milk in powdered form. Crazy right?
Well, it gives the bagels a sweet kick.
**Tip: If you can’t find malt powder, feel free to use malt syrup. And if you can’t find malt syrup, feel free to use brown sugar. Just regular light brown sugar. And if you don’t feel like using brown sugar, feel free to use honey.**
Throw in granulated sugar, for an extra sweetness.
Those are all the ingredients, for right now. We have one more to add, but we’ll worry about that later. For now, the dough is ready to mix.
Use the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer.
Of course you can always do this by hand, it will just take you forever and your hand might hurt afterwards and fall off. Okay I exaggerate it wont hurt that much afterwards.
Mix until the dough comes together. It should be firm and not sticky at all, but not too dry. If it appears to be dry and rips easily, add a bit more water until you reach the right consistency. Of course if it is too sticky add a bit more flour until you reach the correct consistency. You just feel it out.
And now for the final ingredient.
The other star of the show. Raisins.
You can’t forget about those.
**Tip: Beforehand, rinse the raisins thoroughly with hot water to remove all the acids and yeast they have, and to plump them up slightly.**
Mix them in. At first they might not all mix into the dough with just the mixer.
You can definitely continue to knead the dough in a stand mixer for about 7 minutes.
I stopped at this point and started kneading by hand because the dough was too much for my yellow school bus mixer and it was starting to make a sound. It scared me. Powerful bagel dough action happening.
So you can do what I did and dust a cutting board or work surface with some flour (so that the dough doesn’t stick). Just a little flour, don’t dump a whole cup or anything.
Transfer the dough to the floured surface.
Continue to knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes, working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour. The dough should be firm and stiff, but still smooth and pliable.
Again if at this point, while you are kneading, the dough feels too dry add a bit more water. It should be hydrated. It should feel smooth and satiny.
After ten minutes it should look like this. No, let’s be optimistic and positive. After ten minutes it will look like this.
It’s time to cut the dough into even pieces.
Here are the paths you can take:
12 jumbo bagels. (Who needs jumbo bagels?)
16 normal sized bagels. (This is the way to go).
or 24 mini bagels. (This would take forever, but worth the work).
Can you tell which path I decided to go down?
That’s right I did the 16 normal-sized bagels.
We start by cutting the dough in half. Make sure it is as even as possible. You could use a scale to measure everything out evenly, but I don’t have the time or the patience. Or a kitchen scale for that matter, so I just eyeball it.
Cut each half in half, so you end up with 4 pieces.
Cut each piece in half again so you end up with 8 pieces of dough. Again, make sure they are all even in size (or relatively even in size, mine weren’t all even as you’ll see).
And one last time, cut each piece in half once more so you end up with 16 pieces of dough.
There you go! 16 bagels. “But they don’t look like bagels.” Well we haven’t gotten there yet. Hold your horses. We’re getting there.
Form each piece of dough into a smooth ball.
Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Uncover the dough after two minutes. They will be slightly bigger than before. Not doubled in size, just a bit larger. The 2o minutes is just to allow the gluten in the dough to rest for a bit so that the bagels don’t end up being hard and super chewy.
Okay so now we’ve made the dough and they are shaped almost like bagels and they look really nice but where’s the hole? Well the time has finally come to shape these dough mounds into bagels.
Using your thump poke a hole in the center of each ball. Using your fingers try to shape the dough into a bagel form, opening the hole slightly.
Place the shaped bagels onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray. The spray will prevent the bagels from sticking to the paper. You’ll need two baking sheets so have both ready. I placed about 8 bagels on each sheet. It will be slightly snug but it’s okay, I made it work.
Once all the bagels have been formed and are on the baking sheets, lightly spray each with a bit of cooking spray. This will prevent the plastic wrap from sticking to them.
Cover both baking sheets with plastic wrap and a damp towel.
Allow to rest at room temperature for another 20 minutes.
After this step the bagels need to rest in the fridge. There is a certain point in which it is okay for them to go into the fridge. You’ll know they are ready by performing the “float test.” Fill a large bowl with room temperature water. Unwrap one of the pans, grab a bagel and gently place it into the water.
If it floats right away or within then seconds, they are ready to hit the fridge. If it does not float dry off the bagel, place back on the pan, cover and allow to rest longer. Keep checking every 10-20 minutes until it floats.
Again, when the bagel floats, remove it from the water, dry it off, place it back on the pan, cover and place in the fridge.
Once in the fridge the bagels can stay in there overnight or for up to 2 days.
Now I don’t know about you all, but I don’t have that kind of patience. I kept smelling that cinnamon and I couldn’t resist. I wanted to eat them as soon as possible. So what I did was let them rest in the fridge for only 4 hours. Shhh don’t tell anyone. It’ll be our little secret. They tasted just as good, and no one will be able to tell the difference.
**Note: The longer the bagels stay in the fridge the more developed their flavor will be.**
On the next day (or after four hours, wink wink) you are ready to cook them.
As you may or may not know, bagels cook in two stages.
The first stage: The Boil.
Bring a large pot—the wider the better—of water to a boil.
Throw in the baking soda. Stand back and be careful when you do add it because it tends to bubble up and create quite the scene.
Why do we need to add baking soda to the water, you might ask? Well thank you for asking, you’re just full of great questions today, aren’t you? Well I’m no scientist but apparently the baking soda causes some sort of reaction that allows the bagels to brown more. So there you go. We both learned something new.
**Note: This same process is used when making pretzels. Like our Soft Pretzel recipe here.**
Carefully drop in a few bagels at a time. My pot held 4 bagels, comfortably. You don’t want to overcrowd the pot or else they wont boil evenly. Take your time. Do this right. After all, you’ve come this far in making homemade bagels. Might as well make them properly. Boil them in batches.
Boil the bagels for about 1 minute on each side.
**Tip: If you like chewier bagels, boil them for 2 minutes per side.**
Carefully flip the bagels, using a slotted spoon.
Flip and cook for another minute (or two if you want them chewier).
When the time is up, remove the bagels from the water, making sure to thoroughly drain them,
Place the boiled bagels back on the baking sheet lined with parchment.
**Tip: So that the bagels do not stick to the parchment, sprinkle a bit of semolina flour or corn meal onto the baking sheet before placing the bagels back on.**
Continue boiling the bagels in batches until they are all boiled.
The second stage: The Bake.
Bake in a 500º on the middle racks, for about 5 minutes.
After five minutes, lower the temperature to 450° and rotate the pans between racks and giving them a 180° turn. (This will allow for even browning and baking).
Bake for another 5 minutes or until the bagels are light golden brown all over.
Remove from the oven and allow the bagels to cool for about 15 minutes or longer.
Take a look at those bagels. You too can make them. You no longer have to stop by a bagel shop or the grocery store and buy those stale things in a bag, they call bagels. You can tackle them yourself. Homemade bagels. Yes, homemade bagels are the way to go. Not only because they are delicious, but because they are healthier. Healthier in the sense that you know exactly what ingredients are going inside these delicious treats.
They are now ready to be eaten. Grab one and just bite into it. Go ahead I let you. What are you waiting for?
Oh you need cream cheese. Of course you do! You’re not an animal. You need something to spread on it, I’m terribly sorry I should have said mentioned it before. We’re going to make a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread to go with these homemade delicious cinnamon raisin bagels.
Yes you heard me correctly, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread. “Stop the madness Jonathan!”
I can’t stop. I just can’t.
Now I know I said that November will be filled with nothing but pumpkin posts, and it is still October but I just couldn’t resist. I had to throw in a little pumpkin preview for you guys. It is autumn after all.
Let’s make this spread already so we can eat these bagels that took so long to make.
The main star of this attraction is the pumpkin purée. It’s not just any old pumpkin purée, no it’s homemade pumpkin purée. “But how do we make our own pumpkin purée Jonathan?” Oh have no fear it is rather simple to make it yourself. Why, wouldn’t it be so incredibly helpful if I had created a homemade pumpkin purée post just for you?! It would be! Well then you are in luck because I did! I did create such a post. The tutorial can be found here. Of course if you don’t have the time—how could you not it is so simple and fast to make—you can easily just use store bought pumpkin for this. No worries.
We start with cream cheese. Softened cream cheese. And of course our homemade pumpkin purée.
To that we’ll add the spices and sugar.
Cinnamon. Nutmeg. All-Spice. (You could just use pumpkin pie spice). And granulated sugar.
Dump it all in and turn on the mixer.
Mix on medium-high for a few minutes until everything is smooth and evenly blended.
And that’s all folks. There you have it, the easiest and yummiest spread for you homemade cinnamon raisin bagels.
I can’t think of anything tastier than this.
I know that bagels are supposed to be a morning treat. Especially one as sweet as cinnamon raisin, but I could have these all day long. They’re that good. You have to make them for yourself to determine if I’m right or wrong. Of course I’m right.
You can definitely eat these bagels with good ol’ regular cream cheese, and that would be just as fantastic. However, why not bring a little autumn into your life and try something different? Try it with the pumpkin spread. I can guarantee you that you will become addicted to it. I was trying to find other things to spread it on.
As always, I’ve enticed you with a kajillion photographs. I hope that it’s given you inspiration and motivation to make these yourself. You can do it. And with all these step-by-step images, it’ll be a walk in the park for you. A piece of cake.
What’s more, if you’re not digging the cinnamon raisin, then just omit all the spices and the raisins, and guess what….you have plain bagels!! Yum!
OR you can omit all the spices and raisins and top the plain bagels with sesame or poppy seeds. BOOM, I just blew your minds didn’t I.
Whichever flavor you decide, you have to make them. Don’t let all the steps and work deter your from becoming bagel masters. It’s a lot of fun! Get the kids involved. Enjoy.
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
Adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice and Smitten Kitchen.
You can easily omit the spices and raisins and make plain bagels with this same recipe. You can even top the plain bagels with sesame or poppy seeds if you’d like. These bagels can be made in two days, making them on the first day and allowing them to chill in the fridge overnight. On the next day you can boil and bake them. Or you can make the sponge early in the morning and allow the bagels to chill in the fridge for 4 hours, boiling and baking later on in the day.
Yield: 12 jumbo, 16 regular, or 24 mini bagels.
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 -1/2 cups water, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 3-3/4 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 5 tablespoons 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 with hot water
To Boil and Bake:
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
Day one: To make the sponge, in a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast and flour. Add the water and whisk, only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter. It should resemble pancake batter, but slightly thicker. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a damp cloth and leave at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly.
To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl, add the remaining 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 attachment) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough. In the last two minutes of mixing, add the raisins.
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. If the dough seems too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
Immediately divide the dough into 12 (4 1/2 ounce) pieces for jumbo-sized bagels, 16 (3.375 ounce) regular-sized bagels, or 24 (2.25 ounce) mini bagels. Roll the pieces into balls.
Cover the balls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for 20 minutes.
Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Poke a hole in each dough ball and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter for a supersized bagel, two inches for a large one or just slightly more than one inch for a miniature. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots.)
Place each of the shaped pieces two inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the cooking spray and cover each pan loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
Check to see if the bagels are ready to be placed in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to chill in the fridge 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 following day or 4 hours later: preheat the oven to 500° 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.
Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). Do not overcrowd the pot. After 1 minute, flip them over and boil for 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-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour.
When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on two middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately five minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only one pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450° and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.
Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving. Serve with a pumpkin cream cheese spread (recipe follows). Enjoy.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread
Perfect on top of muffins or breads.
Yield: 1-1/2 cups
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon all-spice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Enjoy.