the best cinnamon crunch bagels

the best cinnamon crunch bagels

I am OBSESSED with bagels, you guys. They are hands-down my favorite “breakfast-y” baked good. I don’t usually care for pastries in the morning (save for the occasional croissant or danish), but I will lose my shit over a good bagel. Normally, I’m an everything bagel sort of gal with a savory cream cheese. Maybe some avocado, tomato and arugula if I’m really going for it. However, every now and then I am all about a really good sweet bagel with some honey butter slathered over it while the bagel is warm and toasty. I can’t lie, I’m drooling a little at the thought. So that’s where these bagels come in. The base bagel recipe is my NY style bagel recipe, topped with a cinnamon-sugar-butter mixture that bakes up into a sweet, crunchy topping that doesn’t go overboard on the sugar. Just enough sweetness to satisfy a craving. I can’t get to New York to satisfy my bagel craving regularly (have you ever noticed how hard it is to find a great bagel?), so I made this recipe to be adapted for all you folks and your bagel cravings! This is a recipe that takes a little time, because so much of the flavor is determined by a slow rise in the fridge, but it is exceedingly easy and super fun! I had to test this recipe quite a few times to get it perfect, but I’m super happy with the results and I think you will be too! Read on below for my tips on getting the perfect bagels at home and happy baking!

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1. Flour. Using a flour with a high gluten content is absolutely essential. All purpose flour simply won't cut it and won't develop the appropriate amount of gluten for a nice, tight crumb. Find out which flour that's available to you has the highest protein content. I find that King Arthur flour has a good percentage and is generally readily available. 
2. Mixing your dough enough. Bagels require an extreme amount of mixing and thus I do not recommend doing this by hand unless you have kneading endurance like a beast. This will even be difficult work for your stand mixer, in the ballpark of at least 20-30 minutes. If you want to use a food processor, which will work the dough more quickly, that's possible. But you will have to do the initial rise with yeast, sugar, water and half of the flour. That mixture would then be added to the food processor with the remaining flour, diastatic malt powder, and salt and mixed until a smooth dough is achieved. I'm finicky and so I like to use my stand mixer, regardless of how this dough beats on the motor. 
3. Shaping your bagels. Now, there are plenty of experienced bakers who prefer the loop method. This is where each portion of dough is rolled into a rope and looped around your hand and rolled along the seam to seal the two sides of the dough together. I've attempted this method, and it works okay, but usually i end up with very ugly bagels--not smooth and glossy bagels. Therefore, I have found that the "hole poke" method is the easiest for the average person making bagels. Each portion of dough is rolled into a tight ball, allowed to rest (covered), and then you poke a hole through the center and use your fingers to enlarge it. The important part here is to make the hole large enough. It's going to look too large when you do it, but keep in mind that the bagels will swell when they boil and then when they bake. The Curious Chickpea has a great shaping tutorial here
4. Boiling your bagels. Boiling bagels is part of the secret to delicious NY bagels. The malt syrup coupled with the water helps to achieve the nice golden crust as well as the chew we most associate with a great bagel. It is extremely important that your water be lightly boiling so that it's hot enough to penetrate the dough. Adding your bagels to simply steaming water will result in small, dense, and tough bagels. 
5. Toppings. These bagels are topped with a cinnamon sugar but you could top them with anything from everything seasoning to sesame seeds to jalapeños with cheddar. The possibilities are endless!

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Products I used in this recipe:

Yield: 10 large bagels

the best cinnamon crunch bagels

prep time: 25 minscook time: 30 minstotal time: 55 mins


  • 375 g (about 1 2/3 cups) warm water, about 90 degrees (no hotter!)
  • 20 g (1 1/2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 3 g (1 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 325 g (about 2 1/4 cups) bread flour
  • 325 g (about 2 1/4 cups) bread flour
  • 30 g (about 3 tablespoons) diastatic malt powder
  • 10 g (about 2 teaspoons) kosher salt
  • all the sponge, from above
Boiling Solution
  • 3 quarts of water (should fill about 3" in your pot)
  • 1/4 cup barley malt syrup
Cinnamon Crunch Topping
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour


  1. To make the sponge: In the bowl for a stand mixer, mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap, transfer to a warm area and allow the sponge to rise until tripled in size with lots of bubbles. 
  2. After the sponge has fermented, add the remaining flour and the diastatic malt powder. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on medium-low speed until the dough starts to come together. Sprinkle in the salt and continue to mix. You'll need to mix the dough for about 20 minutes, so set a timer. The dough should be smooth and elastic at this point. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes. 
  3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with nonstick coating. Using a scale, portion the dough into 120g pieces and place them on the baking sheet and cover with a damp towel so that the dough doesn't dry out. Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape the dough into a tight ball. Cup the dough under your rounded hand, and working in tight circles on a work surface, roll until the dough is smooth and the seam on the bottom is sealed. Return to the baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth. Let the pieces rest for 10 minutes. 
  4. Using a damp finger, poke a hole through the center of the dough ball and enlarge the circle so that the bagel is about 4 inches in diameter with a hole that is about 1 1/2 inches. The hole might look large, but the bagels will swell when they rise. Transfer the bagels to the greased baking sheets (I found that I needed two to give the bagels adequate room), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 
  5. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F. To make the topping, mix together the sugars, flour, cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Fill a large pot or dutch oven with at least 3 inches of water. Add the barley malt syrup and bring to a boil. This is important, if the water isn't boiling, you'll end up with small, tough bagels. Working in batches of 3 or so, boil the bagels for 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (let the water drip off of them before transferring them). Brush the bagels with the remaining melted butter and liberally top them with the cinnamon crumb topping. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown, rotating the trays halfway through. Transfer the bagels to a rack for cooling. Serve with cream cheese or honey butter. Bagels will keep for 4-5 days in a sealed storage bag. 


The sponge is what helps to create better flavor and texture in the bagels. 

I really recommend an overnight rise with the bagels as it makes such a huge difference in the flavor. But if you can't wait, at least give them 4 hours in the fridge before boiling. 

Using a scale is very important in this recipe, especially for portioning the bagels. I have added the dry measurements, but they are just estimates as everyone measures ingredients differently. I highly recommend adhering to the weight measurements. I only use dry measurements for the yeast as it's difficult for a scale to detect. 

Find a good, strong bread flour with a high protein percentage. I personally like the King Arthur or Bob's Red Mill bread flours. The high protein flour is important for a strong, tight crumb.
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