I think you’re going to love these sourdough bagels. They are delicious and thick with that iconic chewy crust that you get with New York-style sourdough bagels.
This sourdough bagel recipe is super easy to make. Read on for homemade sourdough bagels with step by step instructions or see the video showing the whole process.
Don’t have a sourdough starter yet to make this recipe? Check out my sourdough starter guide to get an active sourdough starter ready for baking with!
I fell in love with these sourdough bagels from the first time I made them. They’re so flavourful and I was so happy with how they turned out!
Unlike dinner rolls which have a light and fluffy texture, New York style sourdough bagels are denser and chewier.
A strong flour with a high protein content is needed to develop the structure and give that texture.
It means it’s easy to knead it by hand, but it needs a thorough working! A good 10 minutes of gluten development.
Then it’s proofed overnight and rolled, boiled and baked in the morning. I’ll go through my timings and process and show videos along the way.
I make a seperate levain for these bagels, one that I feed at 1:1:1 and expect it to double within 4 hours at a room temperature of around 21°C.
I use it once it has doubled or tripled but before it passes the peak and collapses.
My starter is always getting refreshed so it has low acid content.This is crucial to all my sourdough bread recipes as an acidic starter can break down the proteins in the gluten.
You can avoid creating an acidic starter by refreshing it often, using it before it passes its peak and keeping the seed starter amount small.
Mixing The Dough
Once the starter is ready to go it is added to a bowl with the rest of the dough ingredients – flour, water, sugar and salt. Once combined, it’s very thick, a much lower hydration level than my sourdough bread.
Once worked, it is placed in a lightly oiled bowl and covered with a plate to stop the dough drying out. It’s left on the bench for 2-4 hours depending on your room temperature.
In a warm kitchen with temperatures above 25°C a 2 hour ferment may be sufficient, whilst dough in a kitchen with a temperature below 20°C will be better with a 4 hour ferment.
The dough is not expected to rise much at all. Once fermented, it is placed in the refrigerator overnight ( a minimum of 10 hours.)
The next day the dough is removed from the fridge and placed on a clean work bench.
I use my dough scraper to cut the ball into 6 'even' pieces (I guess these because I don't mind my bagels a bit rustic, but weigh them if you like.) You can also make 8 pieces if you want slightly smaller bagels.
The dough pieces are shaped into tight balls and placed on the bench. I let these sit for 10-15 minutes whilst the glutens relax.
Once they've relaxed, it's time to shape them into bagels.
Shaping Sourdough Bagels
Grab a large baking sheet and generously dust it with semolina flour, or line it with baking paper.
I use my thumbs to make the hole in the middle of the dough ball and roll the dough ball around my thumbs and fingers to widen the hole. Then it's placed on the baking sheet and the rest of the dough is shaped.
Now the bagels need to sit and proof for 2 hours, again dependent on room temperature. They shouldn't rise much, only puff out slightly.
When they have nearly proofed enough, bring a large pot of water to the boil and preheat the oven to 220°C fan-bake, or 240°C regular oven.
Poaching the Sourdough Bagels
Once the water is boiling, stir in a heaped tablespoon of honey. This is going to help set the chewy crust and gives the bagels a golden sheen without the need for egg wash. Trust me, it's good!
Drop the bagels in the water one at a time. If your pot is small, boil them in batches, but work quickly.
Let them poach in the water for 1 minute, flipping them after 30 seconds.
Drain the bagels on a rack and sprinkle over any seeds for toppings whilst they are still sticky from the water.
Baking the Sourdough Bagels
Generously flour a baking tray with semolina flour or use baking paper and gently place the bagels on it.
Place them in the oven and let them bake for 2-3 minutes before turning the oven down to 200°C fan-bake, or 220°C regular oven. Bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown.
If they are baking unevenly, turn the oven tray around after 15 minutes of baking. Remove the baked bagels from the tray and let them cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
They are delicious when served fresh on the day, but when eating them on the following days they are best toasted. Bagels freeze very well, and it helps to slice them first before freezing so you can pop the bagel halves in the toaster when you want to defrost them.
Have you made this sourdough bagel recipe? Tag me and let me know! @home_grown_happinessnz
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Step by Step Sourdough Bagels
- 50 grams sourdough starter
- 50 grams strong white flour with a protein level of at least 11%
- 50 grams water
- 450 grams strong white flour with a protein level of at least 11%
- 220 grams water
- 12 grams salt
- 12 grams sugar
- 1 heaped tbsp honey
- sesame and poppy seeds optional
- Mix together the levain ingredients. Leave it to rise. It should at least double, if not triple within 4 hours (but not collapse). See the post for more information.
- Once the levain has risen, add it to a bowl along with the dough flour, water, sugar and salt. Knead it together to make a ball, then tip it onto a clean bench.Knead the dough for 10 minutes to develop the gluten. If you get tired, take a break and let the dough sit, then come back to it after a few minutes.Once kneaded, place it in a greased bowl, cover the bowl with a plate and let it proof at room temperature for 2-4 hours dependant on the room temperature. (see post for more details.)Place the bowl in the fridge to cold proof overnight (a minimum of 10 hours.)
- In the morning, pull the dough from the bowl and place it on a clean bench.Cut it into 6 even pieces.Shape each piece into a tight ball and let it sit and relax for 10-15 minutes. Take a large baking sheet and generously dust it with semolina flour, or line it with baking paper.Take a ball of dough and use your thumbs to make the hole in the middle of the dough ball and roll the dough ball around your thumbs to widen the hole. Place it on the baking sheet and continue with the rest of the dough balls.Let the bagels sit at room temperature for around 2 hours to slightly puff.
- When they have nearly finished proofing, bring a large pot of water to the boil and preheat the oven to 220°C fan-bake, or 240°C regular oven.Once the water is boiling, stir in the tablespoon of honey. Drop the bagels in the water one at a time. If your pot is small, boil them in batches, but work quickly.Let them poach in the water for 1 minute, flipping them after 30 seconds. Drain the bagels on a rack and sprinkle over any seeds for toppings whilst they are still sticky from the water.Generously flour a baking tray with semolina flour or use baking paper and gently place the bagels on it.
- Place them in the oven and let them bake for 2-3 minutes before turning the one down to 200°C fan-bake, or 220°C regular oven. Bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown.If they are baking unevenly, turn the oven tray around after 15 minutes of baking. Remove the baked bagels from the tray and let them cool and soften for 30 minutes before slicing.