Happy Sunday Bread Heads! Back when I was haunting the University of Michigan campus there was a fabulous bagel bakery, called the Bagel Factory. It was located on South University just steps from the big lot where the Mud Bowl was played every year. One of the things that made the Bagel Factory famous was the Fragel. It was a cinnamon raisin bagel that was deep fried then rolled in cinnamon sugar. Fragrant, sweet as all get out and filling it was a Saturday morning tradition for many starving college students.
When I broke out my bagel recipe a few weeks ago I started thinking about Fragels. I had never worked at the Bagel Factory, but really how hard could it be? Well the answer is harder than you think, if you don’t have a recipe to follow. However after six batches with different combination’s I am ready to hand you all the secret of the homemade Fragels.
This recipe is going to be split. Up the point where we start to prepare the oil it is a recipe for a cinnamon raisin bagel. I am going to provide the instructions to finish it that way, then the instructions to go on to make the Fragels. Don’t get confused.
Cinnamon Raisin Bagel Dough
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 packages (4 ½ teaspoons) dry yeast
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ cups hot water (120 -130 degrees)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup raisins
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon water and beaten
3 quarts peanut oil
1 ½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, measure out 3 cups of flour and stir in the dry ingredients except the raisins. Pout in the hot water and stir strongly with a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer for two minutes.
Add the rest of the flour in small increments, stirring each in before adding more. Stir in the raisins.
If you are doing this by hand turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for ten minutes with a strong push, turn, fold motion; don’t worry if you wind up smashing the raisins occasionally. . If you are using a stand mixer, replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and knead for 10 minutes on medium low speed.
Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. This is the point where the recipes diverge. Let’s start with the bagels.
Forming Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
While the bagels are rising, bring 3 quarts of water to a bare simmer. Add the 1 ½ table spoons of sugar to the water (this will give your bagels a nice shiny surface).
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees for at least twenty minutes.
Prepare a baking sheet by greasing it and dusting it very lightly with corn meal. I usually tell you to use parchment paper, but it really is not the best choice for this recipe.
When the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a floured work surface and punch it down with your fingertips. Divide it into 10 roughly equal pieces. Shape each into a ball by rolling between your palms. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 4 minutes.
Flatten a ball between your palms. With your thumb press a deep depression in the dough. Tear it open with you fingers and then widen it to about 2 inches. Smooth the edges of the tear under. Repeat this process with all of the dough balls, returning them to the work surface when they look like bagels. Cover with a tea towel and allow to proof for 10 minutes.
Drop two of the formed bagels in the simmering water. They may or may not sink. In any case using a slotted spoon, turn them over after 1 minute. Allow to cook for 1 more minute (a total of 2 minutes) then using the slotted spoon remove them from the water. Hold each over the water for a few seconds to remove any extra water. If you notice the bagels are really puffing up, the water is too hot, so turn it down a little.
Place each bagel on the prepared baking sheet. Just before baking brush with the egg-wash.
Bake in the middle of your hot oven for 20 minutes. Then take them out and flip them all over, this will keep them from being too round on one side. Bake for another 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
Now, lets get to the star of the show, the Fragels!
Before we get into the how to of this, we have to talk safety. Deep frying can be dangerous. My Mom managed to burn up our kitchen when I was 10, trying to make French Fry’s. There were two reasons that this fire happened and one reason that it was worse than it had to be. First off she did not use an oil with a high smoke point. DO NOT attempt to deep fry in any old oil that you have in the house. Use peanut oil. It is a little more expensive, but it has a very high smoke point which means it is less likely to burst into flames if you let it get too hot.
Which brings us to the second thing that Mom failed to do; she did not have a thermometer. It is very easy to let your oil get too hot, and if you don’t know what the temperature is you will not only have badly cooked food, you will risk a fire. A good thermometer will cost you about 20 buck, go buy one if you don’t have one (when I start teaching you how to make candy, you will need it anyway!).
Lastly, once you start the oil heating you are going to be in the kitchen. No excuses no leaving. Mom went outside for two minutes while there was hot oil on the stove. When she returned the kitchen was on fire. It can happen that fast. If you stay there, and keep your eye on the oil you won’t have this problem. If at any time your oil gets hotter than 390 degrees, put on oven mitts and move the pot off of the burner until it cools down to 365.
It is always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, but if you don’t have one that does not mean you can’t make this recipe (I did not have any fires) but you should consider getting one just in case. We had to throw baking soda on the kitchen fire at Mom’s, you never want to try to put a grease fire out with water!!
Now that I’ve made everyone nervous, lets get on to the fun part and make some Fragels!
Pour three quarts of peanut oil in a 4 ½ quart pot. Attach your thermometer, and turn the heat on to medium high. It will take about 20 minutes to get the oil to 360 degrees. You want to fry your Fragels in oil that is between 360 and 380. No cooler; no hotter.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a large pie plate or plastic container.
Place your wire cooling rack on a baking pan and set near the stove. Place your container of cinnamon sugar near the rack.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and punch down with your fingers. Lightly flour the top and roll the dough out until it is about 1 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter (a floured round rocks glass can stand in for this) cut out circles of dough. Use your fingers to punch a hole in the center of each fragel. The holes should be about 1 ½ inches thick. Depending on the size of your cutter you will get about 12 -14 Fragels.
Cover the formed fragels with a tea towel until your oil is ready. Using a long pair of tongs, place two fragels in the hot oil. Cook for 2 ½ minutes then carefully turn them over. Cook for 2 more minutes. Keep a close watch on the oil temperature. Be ready to turn the heat down or remove it from the burner for a couple of minutes. Take your time and be safe with this!
Remove from the oil and then using the tongs roll them in the cinnamon sugar then place on the wire rack. Continue until you have fried all your fragels.
These are best when they are warm, but they are still good up to 24 hours later. Do not store in a plastic bag, this will make the sugar melt. Store in a brown paper bag.
There you have it Bread Heads, one of the best treats that can be had. Yes, they are more than a little work, but if once you have had them you will be more than willing to put in the time and effort to have a great Ann Arbor tradition!
The flour is yours.