When I was a youth, I hated breakfast. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t tasted the glorious taste of coffee yet (that was at age 15 and I haven’t gone a single day since without it, save a few weeks early in my pregnancy when I couldn’t stomach it but I’d rather not talk about those dark, caffeine-free days), or because I never knew the magic that is a soft scramble or over-easy egg, or because I had one too many run-ins with those chewy chocolate chip granola bars that, at the time, I sort of liked but now I can’t really stand because I’m a food blogger/food snob and I need me only homemade granola bars, thankyouverymuch.
Now that I’m old and wise (er, older and wiser), breakfast has become my favorite meal of the day. I crave it before I go to bed at night. I dream of it in my sleep. I plan my breakfasts days in advance with great zeal — not even kidding. And that’s why I was extra-excited about my breakfast plans this week: Because this week, every breakfast is a French toast bagel. (!!!)
Have you ever tried the French toast bagel from Panera? They were my inspiration for this recipe. I used to eat them all the time (like seriously at least weekly, because one of my high school teachers would bring them to class every Thursday and it was like a pizza party only with bagels and schmear), but now, now I know that I can make them at home and the homemade version tastes so much better — and truly just like French toast. I say this humbly because I still love you, Panera, you and your bread bowls and hazelnut coffee. But these bagels win.
While the Panera version is flavored with maple and cinnamon chips, this version, though also infused with maple and cinnamon flavors, is done so with pure maple syrup and ground cinnamon along with brown sugar and vanilla. There’s also an egg added to the dough that not only imparts even more of that classic French toast flavor, but it also yields softer, fluffier bagels. And the crunchy cinnamon-sugar topping? It’s the business.
Actually, the entire bagel is the business. A business that I want to make part of my breakfast routine forever and ever.
If you’ve never made a bagel from scratch before, this is a great recipe with which to start your homemade bagel journey. The dough is easy to make, the ingredients simple and the process relatively quick and definitely painless (thanks, in part, to the awesomeness that is Red Star Yeast). Basically, you’ve got a mix, knead, rise, boil, bake and eat situation here, the entirety of which you likely will salivate, as I did, over the smells and scents of warm cinnamon and maple syrup and brown sugar and vanilla. The flavors of French toast in the final product are subtle, but so delicious. And I can’t even tell you how best to eat them: I’ve gone the toasted with butter/toasted with cream cheese/untoasted straight from the oven to my mouth routes and all of the above are amazing, BUT — you and I are both thinking it, right? French toast bagel FRENCH TOAST. This will be in my near future. And I hope soon in yours, too.
I am already so excited about breakfast tomorrow, I could shed a tear.
- 4 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided
- 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) Red Star active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
- 3½ cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, divided
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar mixed with 1½ teaspoons cinnamon, for topping
- In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons brown sugar with yeast. Add ½ cup warm water; stir until yeast dissolves. Let mixture stand 10 minutes until foamy.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook attachment, stir flour, salt, cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar until combined. Add yeast mixture along with ¼ cup warm water, maple syrup, vanilla and 1 egg. Stir until a dough forms.
- Knead dough in stand mixer on medium speed 5 minutes, adding just enough of remaining ¼ cup warm water until dough is smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky; OR, knead dough by hand on a lightly floured surface 10 to 15 minutes, adding just enough of remaining ¼ cup warm water until dough is smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place 1 to ½ hours until doubled.
- Punch down risen dough; let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large, wide pot two-thirds full with water. Heat water to just below a simmer. Heat oven to 425 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Use fingers to poke a hole in center of each ball, stretching each hole until it is as big as half the diameter of entire bagel (it might look too big at first, but it will shrink when you boil/bake it). Place bagels on prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel or lightly greased plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.
- Once bagels have rested, use a slotted spoon to lower a few bagels at a time into simmering water. Allow bagels to float to top. Leave bagels in water 1 to 2 minutes, then flip over and leave in water another 1 to 2 minutes (the longer they stay in the water, the chewier they become). Remove bagels with slotted spoon and return to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bagels.
- Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water, then brush egg wash over tops of bagels. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes until bagels are golden brown and baked through. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.
Disclosure: I received compensation from Red Star Yeast for recipe development purposes. All opinions are my own.