The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

sourdough bagels recipe

rossnroller's picture

In his recent thread, Bagels From BBA, David (dmsnyder) responded affirmatively to my offer to post my sourdough bagel recipe. I’m very pleased to be able to repay him, just a little, for the many fantastic bread recipes of his I have baked over the past months. So here’s the recipe, and hope you like these bagels as much as I do, David!

Acknowledgements: I think the original source was a bagel recipe posted on Dan Lepard’s forum, but adapted for sourdough and re-posted on the Sourdough Companion forum.  Unfortunately, I have so far been unable to retrace my steps to the post in question. Once I do locate it, I’ll post the URL here.

I have been baking these bagels just about weekly for the best part of a year, and during this time have made multiple small tweaks to arrive at the recipe I am about to post.

I have to admit to being a sourdough nut, and probably biased towards sourdough as a leavening agent, but I do take the point that some types of bakery products are not ideally suited to sourdough and turn out better with dry yeast. That bias acknowledged, my firm opinion is that this sourdough bagel recipe yields better flavour – actually, an all-round better bagel - than I have encountered in any commercially yeasted version (and I speak as a committed bagel consumer from way back, not just as a home baker). 

What does ‘better’ mean? Well, for me, a lovely caramelised thin shell of a crust that crackles a little when you bite into it, and a crumb that is tightish and firm, as it should be, yet not dry – and of course, full flavoured and delicious. (I like a touch of rye nestled in amongst the flavours, so often use a starter with 30% rye/70% white flour.)

These babies are best fresh, but toast up well the day after baking, and work beautifully with butter and honey (and a nice cup of good leaf tea brewed for 4 minutes!), as well as the more traditional savoury toppings.

I usually make only 6 bagels per bake, as my partner and I prefer to have them fresh as a once weekly treat, rather than freezing any that are not consumed on the day of the bake or toasted the next day. I suspect others might prefer to make more in one batch, so the following recipe is for a dozen bagels.


  • 400g starter* (100% hydration)

  • 150g filtered water

  • 550g flour (plain flour if you’re in Australia, AP in the US)

  • 38g oil (I use non-GM canola oil)

  • 25g malt extract (I think this is referred to as malt syrup in the States?)

  • 10-12g salt (15g if you are not used to lower salt doughs)

*As mentioned, I like a suggestion of rye in the flavour, so I use 30% whole grain organic rye and 70% organic white plain flour in my bagel starter. However, I’ve quite often used an all-white flour starter, and the end result is just as good.



  • Hand-mix all ingredients in bowl.  Will be quite a dry dough, but persist in mixing for a few minutes and only add a little extra water if the dough won’t come together. No need to rest the dough once mixed.

  • Do a couple of short kneads (say, 2 or 3 minutes) at 10 minute intervals. Use conventional-style kneading: this dough is too stiff for stretching and folding. Leave to rise for 3-4 hours.

  • Divide into 12 equally weighted portions, and pre-shape into balls. Flatten them a bit, then poke a hole in the middle with a skewer and work it around until you can use your finger to take over and create a bagel-sized hole (I prefer to keep the hole small so toppings don’t fall through, but I take full responsibility for this idiosyncrasy and don’t expect anyone else to take it on!).

  • As you complete each bagel, place it in a lightly oiled container large enough to allow the batch to sit there shoulder to shoulder, so to speak. Rub both sides of bagel on the oiled container surface to coat lightly with oil. Put ‘good side’ up.

  • Retard overnight in fridge (cover bagels with plastic, and put entire container in a plastic bag)

  • Preheat oven to 215C (420F). Fan off if you have a convection oven.

  • While oven heats up, bring about three or four inches of water to boil in a large pot, then add a couple of good dessertspoonfuls of malt extract and stir it in to dissolve. The colour of the boiling liquid should resemble weak tea (unmilked, of course!).

  • When oven is ready, plop into the pot as many bagels as will fit in the boiling malty water without piggy-backing on each other – I manage 3. Flip after 30 secs (so, each bagel gets a malt bath of 1 minute in total). Drain on cake rack or similar for a few minutes.

  • Line a baking tray with baking paper (‘parchment paper’ in the States, I believe) and sprinkle lightly with semolina.

  • Sprinkle on toppings – sesame or poppy seeds or whatever – if you want. (I prefer my bagels plain). Transfer bagels to baking tray, and put in oven.

  • Bake @ 215C (420F) for 18 mins. I don’t use steam for these bagels.

  • Let your bagels cool for 30 minutes or so before topping and attacking them.

  • Yeah, I know - I said I make the holes small!


    Whoops - this hole has closed up completely.



    Sans hole, too - but this is the best crumb shot (despite the camera angle warping the shape of the bagel), so it stays in. My photographic standards are low.


    Cheers all, and best of bageling to you!

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