The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Bagels

davidg618's picture

Saturday evening's dessert: Peach Upside Down Cake. (I had my piece sprinkled with a few drops of Amaretto.)

and Sunday morning's bagels. (Ciril Hitz Baking Artisan Bread, CHEWY Bagel formula converted to natural levain.)

David G

rossnroller's picture

I make these sourdough babies weekly, and over months have tweaked my recipe to the point where they turn out just how I like them every time. These ones were especially good, so couldn't resist taking a pic and posting.

Anyone interested in my recipe, you can find it here.

Aveagoodweegend all, and best o bakin' to you!


(Submitted to Yeastspotting - probably too late, though. Oh well...)






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!

taylork's picture

sourdough bagels

March 18, 2008 - 11:16am -- taylork

this was my first attempt at making bagels. i modified nancy silverton's recipe a little to make my own sourdough bagels. half of them i boiled in a lye-water solution and the others i boiled in a bakingsoda-water solution. I also boiled some for just 20 seconds and the others for upwards of 2 minutes. I did all of this because i have read many different recipes and theories about what make the best bagel. They all turned out great. however, i like best the ones that i boiled for only 20 seconds before baking. i think they have a better skin.

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rainbowbrown's picture

Sourdough Bagels



I made some sourdough bagels this morning. I used Bwraith's post, which was based on Susanfnp's post, as a guide: Sourdough Bagels Revisited. These were based on Silverton's recipe from _Breads from the La Brea Bakery_. After going back and forth reading Silverton's recipe and the modified ones, I decided to go with Bwraith's post exactly, well as exactly as I could. I made some slip-ups, which really affected my bagels. They taste great, but they are pretty open and bready and they puffed a little too much. I know precisely what my mistakes were and I thought I'd post them for others who might do some bagel making. All that I did wrong were small errors on my part, things like not taking notice of details in the write up and such. Anyhoo, here gos:

The write up called for 90% hydration starter. In my tendency to over look random details I refreshed my starter at 100%. I believe this is why they were bready. The idea of the dough having a slightly higher hydration was already blamed for breadiness in the discussions between Bwraith and Susanfnp and Bwraith discussed it throughout the comments, but it still went right out the other ear, since it was a difference in the starter.

I shaped some of them using the rope method used in the post and I shaped some of them using a method discussed in BBA where you make a roll and then poke a hole in it and twirl it around your finger. I think I like the rope method better, they were more consistently smooth. My mistake here though was I didn't make the center hole big enough and many of them closed up. Again, something discussed in the post, but I wasn't careful to take notice of it. They should have been about 2.5 inches and mine were only about 1.5 inches.

I believe I worked pretty quickly in getting them into the fridge after shaping and in going through the whole boiling baking process, but they still puffed too much. I think I'll blame this on the fact that my kitchen was 68 degrees and steamy. In fact my whole tiny apartment was steamy because of the big pot of boiling water. Next time I'll open the double doors next to my kitchen and let the chilly morning air in. I'm pretty sure the warm stuffiness of my kitchen gave them a good proofing environment for the four minutes that they sat out between the fridge and the oven.

I think that small slip-ups like these can be so easy to come across and I hope that discussing them will help them sink in more, making them easier to avoid in the future.

Now on to the good things:

I used 5% Giusto light rye flour, 15% Giusto whole wheat flour and 80% KA High Gluten flour, which all worked out great. They really taste quite awesome.

I used poppy seeds on some, ground flax seeds on some and kosher salt on some.

I refrigerated my parchment papered sheet pans before I did the shaping so that as I shaped I was putting the bagels on cold pans. I think this may have been a good idea, not quite sure though.

The only other time I have ever made bagels was about six years ago and was before I really began learning about baking. I just picked a recipe and followed it, not having any sort of understanding of what or why I was doing any of it. They turned out bad, real bad. So these bagels are pretty thrilling for me, and now that I know what I'm doing more in baking, I know what I need to do next time to fix it.

One more note is that I began kneading these in my Kitchen Aid and after three minutes the motor began to burn out, so I did the rest by hand. And this was with the hydration a bit too high.


Thank you Bwraith for your massively helpful write-up on your sourdough bagels. Reading it is actually what inspired me to try my hand at bagels again.

I also have a question about the KA high gluten flour. I don't have the Sir Lance A Lot, but the KA organic. The thing is it smelled a little odd to me. And I'm a little hesitant to admit that I know what it smelled like, but I smelled like Jiffy boxed blueberry muffin mix. Anyone know why? The flour was malted and I don't know if I've ever used malted flour before, so I think it could have been that. I don't know...just curious.

And one more question.  As I was shaping, I found that most, but not all of the ropes were a little, I don't know, hollow-ish as I rolled them which made it a little difficult.  Anyone have any insight on this?  

pebbles's picture

Sourdough Bagels

February 23, 2007 - 3:22pm -- pebbles

After more months than I want to admit, I finally made the bagel I have been aiming for - the ones I remember from long ago. This was a long learning curve as I never baked bread before. I tried an untold number of recipes but there always seemed to be something missing. I switched to no-knead bread, english muffins and experimenting with sourdough which ultimately lead to a bagel I am happy with. Especially as I made these in a cabin with no running water, with temps of -36 outside to haul water!




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