Better Baking Academy: Pumpkin Spice Bagels

Pumpkin Spice Bagels

Our latest module of the Better Baking Academy with Bob’s Red Mill explores an American breakfast staple with a fall flavor twist: Pumpkin Spice Bagels! Now, we all know bagels can be a little bit daunting; they’re one of those Goldilocks breads everyone has an opinion about. They must be chewy, but they can’t be dense. They should be a little bit soft and light but definitely should not be pillowy. So, how do you strike this perfect balance? Using a high-protein flour like Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour is a crucial first step, as it provides the necessary structure to allow for a tight gluten network to form in your dough. In this module, we also walk you through every step of the bagel-making process—from mixing and shaping to boiling and baking—to ensure your bagels come out flawless every time. And trust us, once you’ve tasted homemade bagels straight from the oven, it’ll be impossible to go back to store-bought ever again. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson.

Ingredient Breakdown

Great recipes require great ingredients. Here’s how each of our recipe’s simple ingredients contributes to making the best bagels.

Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour: To achieve chewy bagels, you need protein-rich flour. Strong flour with a high protein content (11% to 13% protein) is what helps create that fundamental starchy chewiness. Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour offers plenty of protein to create a tight network of gluten and provides the sturdy structure necessary to help each bagel hold its signature shape. 

Kosher salt: As a rule of thumb, the ratio of salt to flour in breads is 1.8% to 2% of flour weight. It’s important to weigh your salt because different salt crystals measure differently. Dough without enough salt easily overferments. Salt also helps with crust color and enhances flavor.

Ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves: These spices combine to form a well-balanced pumpkin spice blend. This combination of spices provides the perfect amount of warmth and depth of flavor, with cinnamon that’s slightly sweet, ginger that’s a little sharp, nutmeg that’s earthy and nutty, and cloves that are both bold and astringent.

Instant yeast: In contrast to active dry yeast, instant yeast contains 25% more living yeast cells because it’s processed more gently. Also, because instant yeast particles are smaller and dissolve more rapidly than active dry yeast, they can be added directly to the dry ingredients without requiring time to proof and bloom in warm water. A single-celled organism, yeast will grow and multiply when it receives the following: moisture, food (sugar and carbs), and warmth. It leavens the dough by converting carbohydrates into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol.

Canned pumpkin: The addition of canned pumpkin in this recipe gives these bagels a beautiful golden color; a rich, almost earthy sweetness; and a little extra moisture, which helps to keep them chewy and moist. Keep in mind that we are using canned pumpkin, not canned pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling often contains sugar and spices, which will affect the overall flavor of your bagels.  

Water: Moisture, in the form of hot water, is needed to activate the yeast and hydrate the dough so the gluten can develop. Bagels are often made with a low-hydration dough, which creates the tighter crumb and chewy texture they’re known for.  

Honey: The honey in this recipe serves three main purposes. First, it’s the only sweetener used in this recipe and gives these bagels a subtle sweetness and flavor. It also serves as the sole source of sugar for the yeast to feed on. And finally, it’s added to the water in which the bagels boil in order to lightly coat them in honey. This light coating of honey caramelizes and browns the exterior of the bagels as they bake in the oven, helping give them their signature shiny golden finish.

 

Pumpkin Spice Bagels

These bagels encapsulate everything we love about fall in a single ring of pumpkin spice deliciousness. They’re wonderfully crisp and chewy thanks to Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour and full of fall spices and rich pumpkin. And if that alone doesn’t sound tempting enough, they’re crowned with an Oat Cinnamon Sugar Topping that adds an irresistible earthy sweetness and a little bit of bite using Bob’s Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats. Slathered with simple but delicious Spiced Cream Cheese, these bagels are sure to be a highlight of all the crisp fall mornings to come.

Pumpkin Spice Bagels
 
Makes 8 bagels
Ingredients
  • 3½ cups (445 grams) plus ⅓ cup (42 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) instant yeast
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ cup (183 grams) canned pumpkin, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup (160 grams) hot water (120°F/49°C to 130°F/54°C)
  • ½ cup (170 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (21 grams) honey, divided
  • Water
  • Oat Cinnamon Sugar Topping (recipe follows)
  • Spiced Cream Cheese (recipe follows)
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 3½ cups (445 grams) flour, salt, cinnamon, yeast, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves by hand. Add pumpkin, ⅔ cup (160 grams) hot water, and 1 tablespoon (21 grams) honey; using the paddle attachment, beat at low speed until a shaggy dough forms, about 30 seconds.
  2. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until dough is smooth and slightly tacky and pulls away from sides and bottom of bowl, about 14 minutes, stopping halfway through mixing to scrape sides of bowl and turn dough over in bowl; add up to remaining ⅓ cup (42 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if dough is too sticky. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth ball.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Place a large piece of parchment paper on a work surface in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C), and dust with flour.
  5. Divide dough into 8 portions (about 105 grams each). Shape each portion into a smooth ball. Place 1 ball in your hand. Using the thumb of your other hand, poke a hole in center of ball; stretch hole to about 3 inches. (Once the dough contracts, the hole should be about 1 to 1½ inches.) Place on prepared parchment. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until puffed, 15 to 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat. (Alternatively, lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.)
  7. In a large stockpot, pour water to a depth of 2½ inches. Stir in remaining ½ cup (170 grams) honey, and heat over medium-low heat just until bubbles form around edges of pot. (Do not boil.)
  8. Working in batches, carefully drop bagels, bottom side down, into honey water. Cook for 10 seconds per side. Remove bagels from honey water, letting excess water drip off, and place, top side up, on a large piece of parchment paper. Place 1 bagel, top side down, in Oat Cinnamon Sugar Topping, and swirl bowl to help coat top of bagel. Lift out, and place, bottom side down, on prepared pan. Repeat with remaining bagels.
  9. Bake until lightly golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted near center registers 205°F (96°C), 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on wire racks. Serve toasted and warm or at room temperature with Spiced Cream Cheese.

Oat Cinnamon Sugar Topping
 
Makes about 1 cup
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a small wide bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon until evenly combined. Stir in oats.

Spiced Cream Cheese
 
Makes 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces (226 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon (12 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons (10.5 grams) honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and all remaining ingredients, and whisk until well combined.

 

Mixer Magic

How to mix the best bagel dough

 1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 3½ cups (445 grams) flour, salt, cinnamon, yeast, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves by hand. Add pumpkin, ⅔ cup (160 grams) hot water, and 1 tablespoon (21 grams) honey; using the paddle attachment, beat at low speed until a shaggy dough forms, about 30 seconds. 

2. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until dough is smooth and slightly tacky and pulls away from sides and bottom of bowl, about 14 minutes, stopping halfway through mixing to scrape sides of bowl and turn dough over in bowl; add up to remaining ⅓ cup (42 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if dough is too sticky. Check dough using the windowpane test after addition of flour. To use the windowpane test to check dough for proper gluten development, pinch off (don’t tear) a small piece of dough. Slowly pull the dough out from the center. If the dough is ready, you will be able to stretch it until it’s thin and translucent like a windowpane. If the dough tears, it’s not quite ready. Beat for 1 minute, and test again. Keep in mind that too much flour will make it harder to shape and will create a denser final crumb.

3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a large bowl.

4. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Shaping Your Bagels

They wouldn’t be bagels without a signature shaping technique

 1. Place a large piece of parchment paper on a work surface in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C), and dust with flour. 

2. Divide dough into 8 portions (about 105 grams each). Shape each portion into a smooth ball. Place 1 ball in your hand. Using the thumb of your other hand, poke a hole in center of ball; stretch hole to about 3 inches. (Once the dough contracts, the hole should be about 1 to 1½ inches.) Place on prepared parchment. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until puffed, 15 to 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat. (Alternatively, lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.)

Boiling Your Bagels

A quick bath in lightly bubbling water is essential to creating bagels with a classically chewy texture and shiny outer shell

1. In a large stockpot, pour water to a depth of 2½ inches. Stir in remaining ½ cup (170 grams) honey, and heat over medium-low heat just until bubbles form around edges of pot. (Do not boil.) 

 2. Working in batches, carefully drop bagels, bottom side down, into honey water. Cook for 10 seconds per side. Remove bagels from honey water, letting excess water drip off, and place, top side up, on a large piece of parchment paper. Boiling is crucial to giving your bagels their signature chew and dense crumb. Why? The hot water causes the dough’s starchy surface to gel and form a skin, which then bakes into a glossy, chewy crust. The longer the bagels boil, the bouncier and more puckered they’ll be—every second counts. If the hole at the center of the bagels shrinks while they boil, feel free to gently stretch it out before continuing on to the next step.

Topping & Baking

These bagels get a quick dip in a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and oat before baking to golden perfection

 1. Place 1 bagel, top side down, in Oat Cinnamon Sugar Topping, and swirl bowl to help coat top of bagel. Lift out, and place, bottom side down, on prepared pan. Repeat with remaining bagels. 

2. Bake until lightly golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted near center registers 205°F (96°C), 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on wire racks. Serve toasted and warm or at room temperature with Spiced Cream Cheese.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Wait a minute, wait a minute! It’s a good thing I read the tutorial after the recipe because there is a clear contradiction. In the recipe itself it specifically states, DO NOT BOIL water. “Stir in remaining ½ cup (170 grams) honey, and heat over medium-low heat just until bubbles form around edges of pot. (Do not boil.)” And yet, in tutorial it says the longer they boil the better. “Boiling is crucial to giving your bagels their signature chew and dense crumb. Why? The hot water causes the dough’s starchy surface to gel and form a skin, which then bakes into a glossy, chewy crust. The longer the bagels boil, the bouncier and more puckered they’ll be—every second counts.” So WHICH one is correct? Some things I can usually figure out but not this type of difference. Now I thought bagels WERE boiled but its YOUR recipe that states, DO NOT BOIL.

    • Hello Pamela,

      Thank you so much for your question! With bagels, you don’t want them to be puckered or bouncy, which is why time is of the essence when they’re in the water. The instruction “every second counts” refers to the fact that if you boil your bagels for too long, they will overbake/overproof and lose their signature texture. For lack of a better term, we refer to the process of cooking the bagels in lightly simmering water as “boiling.” This does not mean that the bagels should be cooked in water that is boiling, simply that they need to cook in heated water before being baked. We’re so sorry for the confusion in this recipe!

      We hope this helps, and happy baking!

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