Cinnamon Swirl Bread/Homemade Bagels

Cinnamon Swirl Bread with the Bread Baker's Apprentice open in the background.
I've been slowly working on baking my way through Peter Reinhardt's Bread Baker's Apprentice. I definitely haven't been going in order, nor have I made much progress, but the recipes I have made have been delicious.

Since Valentine's day is coming up, I decided I better make some of D's favorite foods. I'd say his two favorite ingredients are probably garlic and cinnamon, so I decided to make one goodie with each.

He recently bought me two brand spanking new loaf pans, so those were obviously going to factor into the equation. Since cinnamon + loaf pan = cinnamon bread, I knew exactly where to start. I don't want to reprint the recipe, because you should really check out the book but here are the basics:
1. Make a lightly enriched white bread dough (some eggs, sugar, fat, etc. but not a lot), with about a teaspoon of cinnamon in the dough. (Too much cinnamon will slow down the yeast. Don't worry, there's plenty more in this recipe.) Knead in chopped nuts in the last two minutes if you want. (Reinhardt's recipe calls for raisins, but really, who likes raisins???)
2. To form the loaf, roll the dough into a rectangle a few inches narrower than your loaf pans and fairly long (12-16 inches long). Sprinkle the topside with cinnamon sugar and then roll the dough tightly, pinching the end shut to create a seal.
3. Bake as instructed. When the loaves come out of the oven, brush the tops with about 1T melted butter per 2 loaves, and sprinkle with any leftover cinnamon sugar to make a nice delicious crust.
That's an awesome bread knife in the foreground. I'll post on knives soon.
Yum!! We finished about a third of a loaf as an evening snack.

Yes, all of those slices (and more) went into our belly immediately after this photo was taken.
Next task: garlic.

I recently bought malt syrup at our local mom and pop grocery shop just so I could properly make the bagels from Reinhardt's book. I also bought some garlic flakes while I was there, and D requested garlic topped bagels about a week ago. Perfect!

I made some sesame/salt bagels for me, too.

Again, I don't want to reprint the recipe, but here are a few bagel tips:
1. Bagels get their chewy 'crust' from a pre-bake boiling. To withstand the uproar from boiling, the dough needs to be pretty tough, which means there will be very little water in the dough. This makes it wonderful to work with, because your final product shouldn't be at all sticky or tacky.
2. Add vital wheat gluten to your flour. This will also help form a gluten matrix that helps hold up during baking. It will also make your bagels delightfully dense and chewy. I added about a quarter cup for about 4 cups of flour. Next time I'll add a half cup.
3. Malt syrup or malt powder are used by real bagel shops to give bagels a distinctive flavor. Try it out! (It's kind of expensive, and you don't have to use it, but if you find it and eat a lot of bagels, it's a fun experiment.) Add about 2T for a recipe of 12 bagels. I could definitely taste the difference between this and brown sugar.
4. Make and shape the bagels the night before and let them rise shaped overnight in the refrigerator. This not only makes them taste better, it also means you can have freshly baked bagels for breakfast. What could possibly be better?
5. If you're adding garlic to the tops of bagels, soak them in water for a few hours before you put them on the bagels. Otherwise, they will get dangerous close to burning by the time they're baked. (Oops.. noted for next time. They were still really good, though.)

The smell as these were baking reminded me of Hamura Saimin, a place we used to go on Kauai when my family visited. It was really doughy and delicious. They also made the whole hall smell like garlic when they went into the oven.

What make your V-Day romantic?

Also, check out D's rebuttal to my V-Day baking on his Guest Post!

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