Soft, chewy, slathered in cream cheese, and topped with a crisp, crumbly cinnamon crunch topping, these homemade Cinnamon Crunch Bagels will fool you into thinking your kitchen has transformed into a Panera.
A personal, private Panera bakery. Now, that’s what dreams are made of (especially if a vat of Panera-style Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup is included).
I have fond memories of these cinnamon sugar-coated orbs of heaven.
Back in high school, I worked for my school’s newspaper. Every Saturday before we went to print, the staff gathered in our classroom “office” and worked until the pages were ready for press.
Our fuel: adolescent energy, bad 1990s pop, and an endless supply of Panera cinnamon crunch bagels (mine topped with a solid inch of obligatory hazelnut cream cheese).
Today, I’m making high school Erin’s dreams come true with a homemade version of (arguably) everyone’s favorite Panera bagel
(Try my version of Panera’s Spinach Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing next).
How to Make Cinnamon Crunch Bagels
Swirled cinnamon bagel dough topped with a crackly cinnamon crunch topping. If you’re a lover of all things cinnamon, then this Panera cinnamon crunch bagel recipe is for you (as are these Cinnamon Blondies).
Making Homemade Bagels is Easy
Don’t be intimidated. If you’ve never made homemade bagels, they are surprisingly simple (and this cinnamon bagel recipe is a great place to start).
The dough is firm and easy to work with, and although the additional step of boiling the bagels might sound daunting, it really only adds about 8 minutes to the overall prep time and is completely worth it. A good bagel must be chewy, not dense, and boiling is an important step to achieve that perfect texture.
- Cinnamon + Sugar. You can’t have a Panera cinnamon crunch bagel without a
healthyridiculous amount of cinnamon and sugar. Not only are these bagels topped with a divine cinnamon sugar topping, but they’re also swirled right into the dough too (like this Cinnamon Swirl Bread with Hazelnuts).
- Flour. For this recipe, I like to use a blend of all purpose flour and white whole wheat flour. It allows you to sneak a little whole grain goodness into the bagels that’s nearly undetectable.
- Vital Wheat Gluten. My secret to softer, tender bagels that still have the right amount of chew. It’s totally optional but totally worth it in my opinion. (It’s also my secret to my go-to Whole Wheat Pizza Dough.)
- Instant Yeast. Allows you to mix the yeast right into the dry ingredients without needed to activate ahead of time.
- Cream of Tartar. Gives the dough a subtle tang.
- Water. Warmed and mixed into the dry ingredients to activate the yeast and also needed to make the water bath each bagel is simmered in prior to baking.
- Brown Sugar. Is mixed with the cinnamon and sugar for our crunch topping and also dissolved into the water bath which infuses the bagels with a light malty molasses flavor. YUM!
- Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, set aside.
- Combine the remaining dry ingredients and stir in the warm water.
- Knead the dough until a smooth stiff dough forms. Then, knead in the reserved cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Let the dough rise.
- Divide the dough into 8 portions, roll each into a smooth ball, and let rise again.
- Shape the bagels by poking a hole through the center and stretching them into rings.
- Transfer the bagels to a deep, wide pot filled with the water and brown sugar. Cook for several minutes on each side, then transfer to a baking sheet.
- Combine the topping ingredients, then sprinkle generously over the bagels.
- Bake the bagels until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. ENJOY!
- To Store. Bagels are best enjoyed the day they are made but can be kept at room temperature in a zip-top bag for up to 2 days.
- To Freeze. Bagels may also be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge to defrost before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Instead of all purpose and/or the white whole wheat flour, you may use an equal amount of bread flour instead. If you use bread flour, you may omit the vital wheat gluten since bread flour is a stronger flour that already contains a higher amount of protein.
A water bath sets the crust of a bagel before it goes in the oven. This added step is critical for achieving a bagel’s iconic chewy exterior. Brown sugar, honey, or malt syrup is often added to the water to subtly enhance the flavor of the bagels too.
Yes. If you choose to use active dry yeast for this recipe, I recommend activating the yeast in the warm water for 5-10 minutes prior to incorporating the water and yeast into the other dry ingredients.
Cinnamon Crunch Bagels
For the Bagels:
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 2 cups all purpose flour or substitute bread flour
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour or substitute all purpose or bread flour
- 3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten optional—will yield a softer bagel; omit if using bread flour
- 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
For the Water Bath:
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
For the Cinnamon Crunch Topping:
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, all purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, cream of tartar, brown sugar, and salt. Place the water in a microwave-safe measuring cup, then heat to the temperature specified by the yeast manufacturer (usually between 100 to 125 degrees F). Add the water to the dry ingredients, then stir to moisten the flour.
- Knead the dough, in a mixer fitted with a dough hook, for 10 minutes on medium-low speed (or knead by hand for 10 to 15 minutes) on a lightly floured work surface. The dough should be very stiff, smooth, and hold its shape.
- Clear your work surface, then sprinkle it generously with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Knead the dough on top of the cinnamon sugar by a few turns to incorporate the mixture and form a swirl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased mixing bowl, then cover and set aside to rise until noticeably puffy, 1 to 1 1/2 hours (the dough may not double).
- Divide the dough into 8 portions, then roll each into a smooth, round ball. Set the balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet, then cover with plastic wrap lightly misted with cooking spray and let rest for 30 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath. Bring the water to a low boil in a deep, wide pot. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper or a silpat mat.
- Once the dough has rested, use your index finger to poke a hole through the center of each ball, then lift the ring and twirl it around your finger to stretch the hole until it is roughly 2 inches in diameter (the entire bagel will be about 4 inches across). Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough.
- Working in batches, carefully transfer the bagels to the simmering water. If necessary, increase the heat to return the water to a gentle boil. Cook the bagels for 2 minutes on the first side, flip, then cook for an additional minute. With a slotted spoon or spatula, remove the bagels from the water and place them back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
- Combine the topping ingredients (brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon), then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the bagels, using the full amount.
- Bake the bagels for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- TO STORE: Bagels are best enjoyed the day they are made but can be kept at room temperature in a zip-top bag for up to 2 days.
- TO FREEZE: Bagels may also be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge to defrost before serving.
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