Serve these warm, cinnamon sugar pumpkin bagels toasted with butter or a hearty whipped maple cream cheese. They're so perfect for fall!
I'm going to level with you, folks. This is not the recipe I originally planned on writing. My goal, my ultimate ALL TIME IDEAL version of this recipe would have resulted in pumpkin bagels that were also shaped like pumpkins. You know, like these dinner rolls everyone starts making as soon as October 1 rolls around.
Unfortunately, that was easier said than done. I came close to getting it right a couple times, but not in a way that was reliable enough to be able to recommend to anyone else.
After much trial and error, I landed on a gorgeous, twisted wreath shape, which makes for a unique tear-and-share approach to bagel-eating.
UPDATE 10/2021 — I've overhauled this entire recipe!! New photos, a streamlined version of the recipe itself, and, after much frustration trying to follow my own instructions, I've nixed the twisted wreath shape. I've left the original directions below if you're interested in giving it a go. But pursue it at your own peril!
As with all my bagel recipes, these pumpkin bagels are a riff on my plain bagel base recipe. I've replaced some of the water with pumpkin puree and and have perfected the blend of fall spices to make the pumpkin flavor shine.
Topping it all off is a light dusting of cinnamon sugar that coats the bagels' chewy exterior. The cinnamon sugar adds a hint of sweetness that compliments the otherwise warm, savory bagel flavor.
🥘 Ingredient notes
Here's what you'll need to make these cinnamon sugar pumpkin bagels!
- Bread flour - While you can use all-purpose flour for these pumpkin bagels, you'll get much better results from using bread flour. Bread flour has a higher protein content and gives you smoother, stretchier dough and chewier bagels.
- Pumpkin puree - Make sure you're using 100% pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. Sometimes the cans look alike!
- Warm water - Warm, not hot. If you want to be precise, just make sure it's no more than 110F. Any higher and it will kill the yeast.
- Instant yeast - Instant yeast can be added to the flour directly and doesn't need to be bloomed in water separately. If you only have active dry yeast, you can use it the exact same way; it might just take a little longer to rise.
- Brown sugar - I like dark brown sugar because it adds more molasses-y flavor, but light brown or plain white sugar will work too.
- Kosher salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. Use half as much salt if you're using a different brand.
- Pumpkin spice - You can use a store bought pumpkin spice blend or use the specific measurements of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg I've included in the recipe. Always grate whole nutmeg fresh for maximum flavor.
- Cinnamon sugar - I prefer store-bought cinnamon sugar blends because they tend to be finer than if you make your own, but it's really your preference.
🍽 Mise en place (aka "the setup")
Mise en place is a French culinary term which literally translates to "putting in place."
It basically means: Measure all your ingredients and make sure you have all the right tools and equipment ready to go when you need them before you start working.
This can make a huge difference in a) how enjoyable you find the baking and cooking process and b) the success of your recipe!
Here's the mise en place you'll need for this recipe:
- Mix flour and yeast together in your stand mixer bowl.
- Mix the water and pumpkin puree together until no lumps remain.
- Mix the salt, sugar, spices, and 1 teaspoon water together in a small bowl. The water helps the salt and sugar start dissolving so they incorporate evenly into the dough.
Once you have your ingredients prepped, the first step is to autolyse the flour, yeast, pumpkin puree, and water.
Autolyse is a technique more commonly used in artisanal breads. It gives the starches in the flour time to hydrate and start building structure in your dough before you incorporate anything, like salt, that can slow gluten development and absorb water. (Note: Many people don't include yeast in their autolyse, but its okay here!)
And while the term autolyse might sound fancy, don't let that intimidate you. All you're doing is mixing the flour, yeast, and water/pumpkin mixture together into a rough shaggy dough (see photo below).
Then cover and let it rest for 10 minutes.
My other bagel recipes don't incorporate an autolyse step. I've added it here since it takes the flour longer to absorb the water from the thick pumpkin puree. A quick 10 minute rest will make your dough so much easier to work with. You're also less likely to need additional water in the mixing stage.
While the dough rests, mix together the salt, brown sugar, and pumpkin spices with 1 teaspoon warm water. The water helps start dissolving the sugar and salt so they incorporate neatly into the dough.
Pour the sugar-salt-spice over the dough and attach the dough hook. Mix with the dough hook on low-medium speed until the dough comes together. This can take 3-5 minutes, depending on how absorbent your flour is.
If your dough is still very dry and floury after 3 minutes, you can add a teeny tiny splash of water. Start with half a teaspoon, and drop it directly onto any dry bits of flour in the bowl. Resist adding more water than you need to — there really is more moisture in the pumpkin puree than you think.
Once the dough clears the sides of the bowl, increase the speed to medium and knead for 3 minutes until it's smooth, elastic, and slightly tacky to the touch. It shouldn't be sticky. If the dough seems wet or sticks to your hands, briefly knead in an additional tablespoon of flour.
Shape the dough into a ball, and let it rest in a lightly greased bowl, covered, in a warm spot (72-75F) for 1 hour. The dough should just about double in size.
TIP: If your kitchen runs cold, put the bowl in your OFF oven with the oven light on. This gives the yeast a nice warm environment to work in.
🥯 How to shape a bagel
Divide the dough into equal portions. If you're combining a few pieces together to make a portion, stack the smaller pieces on top of the bigger pieces. Tuck the edges up so the dough is smooth against the counter with a seam pinched together on top. Repeat until the dough ball feels fairly tight. Don't tear the dough, just stretch it.
Then, flip the dough over so the seam side is down against the counter. Cup your hand around the dough and slide it toward you. The dough will take on an oval shape. Rotate it 90 degrees and repeat to turn the oval into a round circle.
(Or, cup your hand around the dough with your pinkie-side flush against an unfloured counter and your thumb and forefinger making an O- or C-like shape above the dough. Move your hand in quick circles without picking your pinkie off the counter, and the dough will quickly shape itself into a nice smooth ball of dough.)
Once the dough has been shaped into balls, coat your hands in flour and stick a thumb through the bottom seam of the dough. Slide your other thumb in and gently squeeze and stretch, rotating the dough through your hands until the bagel hole is at least the same width as the sides of the bagel if not bigger.
You may want to repeat the stretching process again before boiling to keep the hole from closing up in the oven.
♨️ Boiling and baking
Boiling the bagels gelatinizes the outside crust and gives your bagels their classic shiny, chewy crust. If you don't boil them, they're not bagels!
Boil bagels in a shallow, high-sided pan for about 1 minute per side, then remove to the parchment or silicone mat lined sheet pan you plan to bake them on.
If you're using the cinnamon sugar topping (and you should), there's no need for an egg wash. The gelatinized crust is sticky enough. To get the tiger stripes pattern, move your hand back and forth in a quick zig zag over the bagels as you sprinkle the cinnamon sugar.
If you're skipping the cinnamon sugar blend, brush the bagels with egg wash before baking to get a gorgeous, shiny crust.
Bake the bagels for 20 minutes at 425F. Let them cool slightly, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.
🍾 ADVANCED — Shaping bagel wreaths
10/2021 — I don't recommend doing this. I tested many, many, many different ways to get this wreath shape to work consistently when I was retesting the recipe. I came close, but never quite nailed a method that I could reliably recommend to you. I've cleaned up my original wreath-shaping instructions below based on my latest tests, but I can't promise you'll have a 100% success rate. If you want to challenge yourself and figure out a way to make it work, please let me know what worked for you in the comments!
Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Instead of shaping them into balls, shape the dough into logs. Flatten each piece, then roll it up, pinching it shut to seal. Cover and let the logs rest for 5 minutes.
Divide each log in half, then roll each half into a rope approximately 10" long. If the dough resists or starts to tear instead of stretching, cover and let it rest 5 minutes, then resume rolling.
Once you have two 10" ropes, cross one over the other to form an "X" shape. Starting from the middle and working outward, continue crossing one rope over the other until you have one long twisted rope.
Join one end of the twisted rope to the other, overlapping by about half an inch or so.
Squeeze gently to press the ends together (if you want to get fancy, interlock the rope strands). Then, with your hand inside the bagel hole and the joined ends on your palm, press down against the counter and roll to seal the ends together.
Resting: Place the shaped bagel wreaths under a damp paper towel and let rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight (8-12 hours) before boiling. If you rush this step, your bagels are VERY LIKELY to come apart when you boil them. The longer you can let them rest, the better.
Boiling: Given the delicate nature of the wreath shapes, these bagels boil for less time. Thirty seconds per side. Be gentle with them here. The bagels expand as they boil; If you let them boil too long or jostle them too much, the joined ends will come apart.
If the joined ends of your pumpkin bagels come apart, use a spoon to gently pin the open end against the side of the skillet. This won't seal it, but it will prevent it from stretching further. Once you take the bagel out of the skillet, use a wooden toothpick to reconnect the open ends and bake the bagel with the toothpick in place.
Eating: The wreath shapes are tricky to slice the way you'd slice a normal bagel. They're great for tearing into chunks like a pretzel and dipping in maple syrup, or slathering with bacon cream cheese.
💭 Practical tips and recipe notes
- Resist adding water to your pumpkin bagel dough unless you absolutely need to. Bagel dough is low hydration by design and if you add too much you'll end up with an airy interior with lots of big air pockets.
- When shaping pumpkin bagels, if the dough fights you or feels like it's tearing rather than stretching, cover it and let it rest. Even just one minute of resting can give the gluten strands some time to relax and get used to their new shape so you can continue stretching them without them breaking.
- For more savory pumpkin bagels, skip the cinnamon sugar; brush the pumpkin bagels with egg wash and top with green pumpkin seeds!
- A lot of people don't include yeast in an autolyse step, but it's okay to do so here!
👩🏻🍳 Recipe FAQ
Yes. If you don't boil them, they're not bagels. You'll just have round pumpkin bread.
It's more accurate and you'll get better results from the recipe. Because of the pumpkin puree it's super important that you get the ratios of water and flour just right! Kitchen scales are super affordable and a worthy addition to your kitchen. <<Read more in my website FAQ!>>
I tested these with Wegman's store brand pumpkin puree. Different pumpkin purees do have different moisture content, which is why the autolyse step is so important. Giving the flour time to absorb as much water from the puree as possible before you start mixing will allow you to more accurately assess if it actually needs more water in the mixing process.
Whip softened cream cheese with a hand mixer or with the paddle attachment in your stand mixer. Drizzle in maple syrup and whip well until it looks and tastes good to you!
If you want to do this I recommend reducing the amount of yeast by half. Cover the shaped bagels with a damp paper towel and let them cold proof in the fridge overnight. In the morning you can boil and bake them.
Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bagels
- 500 grams bread flour
- 200 grams warm water
- 100 grams pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons diamond crystal kosher salt (use half as much of another brand)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon whole nutmeg (freshly grated, always!)
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar (for topping)
- Autolyse. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour and yeast. In a separate container, mix together warm water and pumpkin puree until no lumps remain. Add pumpkin mixture to flour and mix with a spatula or dough whisk until dough is shaggy and quite messy. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
- While the dough rests, combine brown sugar, salt, and pumpkin spices. Stir in 1 teaspoon water, just until hydrated.
- Mix dough. After 10 minutes, pour spice mixture over the dough. Attach the dough hook and mix on low-medium speed until dough comes together. Be patient; this can take 3-5 minutes.After 3 minutes if the dough still looks very dry, add ½ teaspoon water directly onto any dry bits and continue mixing. Repeat only if absolutely needed; It's better to have a bagel dough that's too dry than too wet!
- Knead dough. Increase speed to medium and knead for 3-4 minutes. Dough should clear the sides of the bowl and be smooth, elastic, and slightly tacky to the touch.If the dough seems sticky or wet, add 1 tablespoon flour and knead briefly to incorporate. Repeat if needed.
- Rise. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Let rest for 1 hour, covered, in a warm spot until roughly doubled in size.
- Deflate. Gently punch down the dough to deflate. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 425°F and bring a large, high-sided skillet filled with at least 3 inches of water to a boil.
- Shape dough balls. Divide the dough into eighths (using a kitchen scale for precision) and shape each piece into a ball.(Gently flatten the piece of dough against a clean work surface, then tuck the edges up into the middle, pinching them together to form a smooth surface on the underside of the dough. Flip the dough over, cup your hand around it, pinkie against the counter, and drag your hand towards your body. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat as needed.)Cover your shaped dough balls with a damp paper towel and let rest 10 minutes.
- Poke holes. Dust your hands well with flour. Flip the first dough ball you shaped over and push your thumb through the seam at the bottom and out the other side. Slide your other thumb in next to it. Rotate the dough through your hands, gently squeezing as you go, to stretch it out. Stretch, don't tear. The hole should be at least the same width as the sides of the bagel. Arrange bagels on a lined sheet pan to rest while you shape the rest.
- Boil. Boil bagels 60 seconds per side. If they stick to the bottom of the skillet, use a wire spider or slotted spoon to gently loosen them — the bagels should float. Place boiled bagels back on the sheet pan when they're done.
- Dust the boiled bagels with cinnamon sugar. To get tiger stripes move your hand back and forth in a quick zig-zag motion.
- Bake. Bake for 20 minutes at 425°F. Let cool slightly on baking sheet, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.
- Individual spices can be adjusted to taste — omit or reduce ones you don’t like. Or, use 2 tablespoons store-bought pumpkin pie spice to keep it simple.
- Make ahead: Reduce yeast by half, cover shaped bagels with a damp paper towel, and let rest in the fridge overnight (8-12 hours). Boil and bake in the morning!
- For larger bagel holes, stretch again immediately before boiling.
- If measuring by weight, you need 7 grams of salt, regardless of salt brand. If measuring salt by volume, use half as much of any other brand of salt (including other brands of kosher salt).
This recipe was originally published on 10/22/2019.