I have been wanting to make apple cinnamon bagels for quite a while.  The idea popped into my head and I could not stop thinking about it.  However, I wasn’t sure how to go about making them.  I was worried that the apple flavor wouldn’t come through, or that the apples would add way too much liquid to the dough and it wouldn’t come together correctly.  I brainstormed and brainstormed some more, and eventually came up with my solution – caramelized apples.  Apples cooked until tender have far more flavor than before cooking, and also have much of the moisture removed.  Score!  I’m please to report, this technique was very successful and these bagels were every bit as good as I had hoped.  You could really taste the delicious cooked apples in every bite, and the streusel topping added some extra cinnamon flavor.

The amount of flour needed for the dough will vary a lot depending on how much liquid is added by the apples.  I added what seemed like a lot, and probably should have added even more.  I think these bagels need to bake a little bit longer than normal, maybe 12-14 minutes.  It did seem like the leftover bagels that I ate on subsequent mornings were slightly more moist than the fresh ones, but a quick burst in the toaster took care of that.  The streusel topping did have a weird consistency on the leftover bagels and I think for future batches, I will only top the bagels that will be eaten that day.  The rest could be topped and popped into the oven to rewarm/bake just until the streusel was baked.  These are truly a treat to wake up to and I know I will be making them again and again!

  • Yield about 10-12 bagels


For the sponge:
½ tsp. instant yeast
2 cups (9 oz.) bread flour
1¼ cups (10 oz.) water, at room temperature

For the apples:
1½ tbsp. butter
3-4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the dough:
¼ tsp. instant yeast
1¾ plus 2 tbsp. (8.5 oz.) bread flour, plus an additional ¾  cup as needed
1¼ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
2½ tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. dark or light malt syrup, honey or brown sugar
1 cup caramelized apples (from above), chopped

For the streusel topping:
½ cup sugar
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp. flour
4 tbsp. butter, cubed
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon

To finish:
1 tbsp. baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
Streusel topping (from above)


  • 01

    To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

  • 02

    To make the apples, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the apples, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Mix well until the apples are evenly coated.  Cook about 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and most of the liquid has cooked off.  Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the vanilla and set aside to cool.

  • 03

    To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add about ¾ of the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining flour to stiffen the dough. In the last couple minutes of mixing, add the chopped caramelized apples.  You may want to add some extra flour at this point to account for the extra moisture added by the apples.

  • 04

    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. There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F. If the dough seems 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.

  • 05

    Immediately divide the dough into equal sized, 4 ½-ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls. (Note: I have found that my personal ideal size for bagels is about 100 g of dough per bagel).

  • 06

    Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

  • 07

    Line two sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Proceed with shaping the bagels by pushing a hole through the center and stretching out the hole to 2 ½ inches in diameter.

  • 08

    Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pan. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

  • 09

    Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded 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 time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

  • 10

    To make the streusel topping, combine the sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon together in a small bowl and mix with a fork.  Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of a pea.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

  • 11

    The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500° F 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.

  • 12

    Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute flip them over and boil 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-line sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you decided to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.) Top the boiled bagels with the streusel topping if desired.

  • 13

    When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 6 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450° F and continue baking for about 6-7 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.

  • 14

    Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.