The perfect balance of cinnamon and sugar takes this breakfast favorite to the fair! Churro bagels are a perfect sweet breakfast treat, and leftovers freeze well for later.
I didn’t know this, but the Godfather and I grew up bagel snobs! Apparently, it’s what happens when one is raised in an area like South Florida with plenty of ex-New Yorkers who demand decent bagels. When I talk about “decent bagels”, I’m referring to bagels with flavor, a chewy crust, and a soft yet still chewy center, not that round bread with a hole nonsense sold at most chain bakeries. You can imagine the culture shock when we left our South Florida bubble and moved to Georgia. The Godfather mentioned the lack of bagel options to a co-worker and she recommended a freezer brand. He didn’t know how to reply. We momentarily lost hope.
Of course, we don’t stay hopeless for long here, and I decided to research and take matters into my own hands. Time to make the bagels! Thankfully, I came across Peter Reinhart’s bagel recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and after a successful batch of plain and sesame topped bagels, all was right in the world, especially since the bagels freeze well and so we had enough for a little while. We never did end up moving back to a place with good bagels, so I kept making them, experimenting with flavors, and making my own tiny little modifications here and there to the Peter Reinhart recipe.
I didn’t think much about my bagel baking “hobby” until one weekend I decided to offer a “bagel day” via the bakery. I picked a few flavors, including these churro bagels, took pre-orders, and baked fresh for pickup.The first event was such a success, I started offering bagels every few months. Churro bagels were a required menu option as I had a few families that always ordered cinnamon sugar for everyone, or they wanted cinnamon sugar for the kids and Asiago cheese for the adults.
I never actually used the name “churro bagels” on the menu though. When I was finalizing the recipe, I tried one with a bit of Nutella and instantly thought of the Nutella stuffed churros sold at carnivals. When I told a friend who was also “testing” with me, she agreed and that became the unofficial name for the cinnamon sugar bagels.
We moved, and my bagel families are all scattered across the country now, but I think about them every time I bake for our home. Pick a weekend and bake some bagels, darlings. The final result is something truly special. If you aren’t an experienced bread baker, don’t worry! Bagels are very friendly for novice bread bakers, and a lot of the work is hands off. You know how to reach me if you have questions. 😉
Be sure to read the instructions first, it’ll help you schedule. I hope you enjoy!
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 4 cups bread flour, see notes
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp salt
- 5 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 3 3/4 cups bread flour
Baking and Topping
- 6-7 cups water, for boiling
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
- cornmeal for lining pan
First Day: Make the sponge
- Combine the sponge ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined. This should look like a thick batter with no dry bits of flour.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature 2 hours until almost doubled in size and quite bubbly.
First Day: Make the Dough
- If you used the bowl of a stand mixer, place the bowl into the mixer and attach the dough hook. Add the yeast, salt, sugar, and cinnamon to the sponge and stir to combine.
- Add the flour one cup at a time until a thick dough forms. Knead for 6 minutes by machine or 10 by hand. The dough should not be sticky, but shouldn't be dry either. Adjust tablespoon by tablespoon with either flour or water as needed.
- Transfer to a lightly floured surface and use a kitchen scale to weigh out your dough into equal sized portions. I measure each to 3.5 ounces and get about 16 bagels per batch. Cover the dough balls with a slightly damp kitchen towel or paper towel and allow to rest 10 minutes before shaping.
- Line 3 baking sheets with parchment and spray lightly with oil or a nonstick spray. This is where the bagels will rest once shaped.
- To shape, roll each piece of dough into a ball, then use your thumb to puncture a hole in the center. Gently shape the edges to form an even "tube" and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Allow the bagels to sit another 10-15 minutes, then spray lightly with oil or nonstick spray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least overnight, up to 2 days.
- On baking day, preheat your oven to 500 F with two oven racks positioned in the middle of the oven. Bring your water to a boil in a large stock pot.
- When the water is at a rolling boil, remove the first tray of bagels from the refrigerator. Add the baking soda to the water and drop 2-3 bagels into the pot. Boil for 1-2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the baking sheet with a little cornmeal to prevent sticking.
- Place the boiled bagels on the prepared baking sheet. Place the first sheet of bagels into the oven on the lower rack and set the timer for 5-6 minutes. Boil the second sheet of bagels.
- When the timer rings, your second baking sheet should be ready to go, so move the currently baking tray of bagels to the top middle oven rack and rotate. Place the second batch of bagels in the bottom middle oven rack. Set the timer for another 5 minutes. Start boiling the third baking sheet of bagels. The top rack of bagels is done when the bagels are a light golden brown. Remove the top pan from the oven, rotate the pan on the bottom rack to the top rack, add freshly boiled bagels to the bottom rack. Repeat until all bagels are baked.
- Mix together your cinnamon and sugar for the topping. While the bagels are still warm, brush the tops with the melted butter and dip into the cinnamon sugar. Enjoy! We like to top these with a bit of chocolate hazelnut spread or butter.
*To get the closest texture to "bagel shop" bagels, you'll need a high gluten flour. I have never been able to find a labeled "high gluten" flour where I've lived, so I typically use bread flour and add a tiny bit of gluten. You can find gluten in the baking section of most grocery stores near the flour. I add about 1/2 tsp of gluten per cup of flour when using bread flour or 1 tsp if using an unbleached all-purpose. This recipe will work using just regular bread flour though if you don't bake bread often and don't want to purchase gluten.
**Bagels are best within a day or so of baking, so we freeze leftovers. To reheat place in a cold oven and warm to 350 F. By the time the oven is warm, the bagels have typically thawed, warmed through and have a light toast. Slice carefully and enjoy!