The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can Bagels from Reinhart Be Made With Sourdough?

TastefulLee's picture

Can Bagels from Reinhart Be Made With Sourdough?

So.....I've been making the bagels from Peter Reinhart's ABED for about 6 months now with great success. My entire family is ruined for any storebought bagels (including the crisp, chewy ones we adored from the authentic NY bagel store in town, which have now been declared ''flavorless") and everyone is happily munching away singing my praises.

Of course, being me, I can't leave well enough alone, so every time I whip up a batch of bagel dough I'm eyeing up my sourdough starter. I have read several posts on converting recipes and there's great info out guys are AMAZING...however, being me, I am on information overload and all I've become is confused. I am new at baking bread (less than a year) and am having trouble keeping up with you experts...:)

Anyway--I wondered if anyone had ever converted this particular recipe, and if so, how much starter to use in place of the 2 1/2 tsp. ADY I've been using.

Also-I wondered if there is a rule of thumb such as x-amount-of sourdough starter = 1 tsp. active dry yeast.

Any insights, thoughts, suggestions, or information would be greatly appreciated. :))) Lisa


P.S. Since it's already posted in several places on the internet, here's the recipe I'm using - I doubled the original so it makes 12 good sized bagels:


908 g bread flour

510 g water

2 1/2 tsp. ADY

2 T. barley malt syrup

5 t. kosher salt

(somewhat of a convoluted recipe I know but my scale is funky on the low end of weights so I prefer to use the volume measurements for the small amounts, and it's working fine)

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Or somewhere slowly.

Any recipe, including that one, can be adapted to use a sourdough starter, but since your sourdough starter is different from every other one on the planet (as is your local environment), it really would come down to guesstimates and a bit (or a lot) of trial and error.

Or you could just use a sourdough bagel recipe that many have already authenticated, adjudicated, and masticated:

TastefulLee's picture

...for your suggestions and the recipe referral. Unfortunately I am working with 100% hydration starter and since this recipe calls for 90% hydration and I am not sure I'm ready for bakers' percentages and such, I'm a little leary of jumping in. 

I think I'll just jump in with my tried-and-true and dump a bunch of sourdough starter into a batch instead of yeast and see what happens. If I remember that since I started baking even my 'disasters' have been edible at worst, I should be ok. Thanks!

Of course, I still welcome comments, ideas, information and suggestions...:) Lisa

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Use your 100% starter. It won't make that much of a difference.

If the dough feels 'wetter' than usual, add a bit more flour. Bagels are usually 58-60% hydration, me thinks. Could be wrong on that, but too lazy to check right now. :)

proth5's picture

to think about converting formulas from yeast to sourdough is to think in terms of the percentage of flour prefermented (I will have to say that this is where spending the time to learn baker's math really pays off - it isn't really math  it's just arithmetic, but I digress)

The percentage of pre fermented flour hovers in the 20-30% range in most (but not all) formulas - so this is a good starting point.  With sourdough, the more pre fermented flour (within reason) the faster the stuff will rise - so gauge for yourself.

So let's take the above formula and your 100% starter.

If you want to pre ferment 20% of the total flour, this means that you will pre fement 182g (908*.2 = 181.6 - rounded up) of flour.  If your starter is at 100%, this means that you will use 364g (182 g flour +182g water) of starter.  You will subtract 182 g of flour from the total formula so you will have 726g (908-182) of flour in the final mix and 328g (510-182) of water in the final mix (along with the other ingredients - even including some yeast if you would like). 

Easy as pi.

Do not fear the math.

There is always trial and error involved when working up a sourdough formula - but at least you will know what you did and can consider how to adapt it.

I'm just surprised that Thomas didn't whomp up a spreadsheet to show you how it is done...

Hope this helps.


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

But I'm engaged with a flat bike tire that seemingly wants to stay that way.

Would much prefer to be dealing with a similar shaped object like a bagel, but have to get cycling now because it's going to be a scorcher today (+ smoke from a wildfire).

proth5's picture

I am far, far from the Front Range and will be for some weeks - but from the news reports one considers that this is a really nasty fire.  I rememeber a few years back that ash fell all over downtown from a wild fire.  Hope they get this under control - soon.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

It's a bad, bad fire.

If it hits the pine beetle-ravaged areas to the west/northwest of its current location, all bets are off.

Guess which direction the wind is coming from today? Yup, southeast (blowing to the northwest).

I should probably get some loaves ready for baking in (what's left of) the forest.

Rocky Mountain National Park is just to the southwest of the fire too! :(

TastefulLee's picture
TastefulLee sorry to hear about the fire - sounds very scary!!! Hope you and your family are safely away. 

After much debating and searching I finally settled on Mike Avery's recipe for sourdough bagels...2 batches of 6 bagels each (hopefully), one with 20% rye flour and one with 10% - I will taste test my family tomorrow and see if these stand up to the Reinhart bagels they know and love. 

I figure if I'm going to try something new why not go all out??? LOL Thanks everyone - Lisa

autopi's picture

you can keep using the formula you have now, if you like. the math is really quite simple. one of the posters above explained it well. i use reinhardt's formulat to make sourdough bagels (w/a 100% hydration starter) on a semi-regular basis, and it's quite easy. if you don't want to bother figuring out the percent of pre-ferment, just dump out as much starter as you want into your scale, and divide that by 2. then subtract the resulting figure from whatever amount of flour and water you would normally put in -- e.g. if you have 200g of starter, then subtract 100g from the flour you would normally add and ditto for the water. if you don't have much starter, it will just take longer to rise. but it's pretty straightforward. (you can spike with a very small amount of commercial yeast, too.)

breadforfun's picture

This is a sourdough bagel recipe that I have made several times.  It is based on Reinhart's recipe but is very forgiving, especially for timing and for shaping after retarding the dough.  If you are not familiar with the Chocolate and Zucchini blog, you should check it out.  It is mostly food rather than bread, but it is fun to read.  She has a decent sourdough bread recipe, too.


rossnroller's picture

Hi TastefulLee

You'll find a link to my regular SD bagels recipe here (better pics than on the original recipe page, otherwise I would have linked directly to that). My version uses 100% hydration starter and the results are consistently excellent, so you might like to try it some time.


TastefulLee's picture
TastefulLee everyone who contributed their experience, suggestions and references. I'm so grateful for the time you took to answer my question. You've all given me many options to choose from, and I'm sure I will have a great time trying them all out in my quest for a great sourdough bagel for my family.

Cheers all, have a wonderful, blessed weekend, and HAPPY BAKING!!! Lisa :)