The Fresh Loaf

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XIII - Sourdough Bagels with Wholemeal Flour

lumos's picture

XIII - Sourdough Bagels with Wholemeal Flour

……just so that you know I do not live by baguettes alone. :p


Before I start...... Hope all you US-based TFLers are safe and unharmed in any way in the hurricane.  Please know that my prayer is with you.  (Let's forget just for now that I'm an atheist....)



Never been to New York (or USA, for that matter, unless you count the island of Guam as a part of American soil), so, very regrettably I’ve yet to experience the true glory of famous New York Bagels.  You can buy so-called ‘New York Bagels’ here in UK, which noisily claims its authenticity on their plastic bag that’s suffocating 5 bagel-like soft bread rings; sure sign that it is anything but authentic….

 Coincidentally, two of the largest Jewish communities in UK are both within 30-minutes driving distance from me, so I have had a few of their bagels from the bakeries there in the past, but most of them seem to pride themselves and compete each other for the ‘authentic fillings,’ like salt beef or lox, in their bagel sandwiches rather than the bagel itself. I have found a good review about a new bagel shop in another area about 20-25 minutes drive away from me, that is run by a baker who came from Israel quite recently and claims his ones are the authentic bagels, but I have yet to try his…..and his shop is quite near the area which was badly damaged in the recent riot.  I’m desparately hoping his shop was alright. If not, that’s another reason I want those ******* ***** ******* rioters to be properly punished for meddling with my potential foodie-heaven before I get my hands on. 

So in short, I really don’t know if I have ever tasted authentic bagels or whether my bagels are any good at all.   But I’ve been baking these for some friends for a while; one of them (and her husband) who used to live in New York for several years and quite happily buy my bagels very regularly, and the other friend who is an American-Jewish (his parents are immigrants from Russia after WWII) and told me they are the best homemade bagels he’d ever had. (Though I really doubt he’d ever had so many ‘homemade’ bagels before. I suspect he and his family have been buying their bagels from their local Jewish bakeries….)

 Anyway, they seem to like it, and I like it, too. So whether authentic or not (though I suspect any possible claim for ‘authenticity’ will be down the drain the instant I add WW flour in the mix…:p.), this is the one I’d like to share with you. Hope you like it, too.





Ingredients  (makes 12 bagels)

Sourdough (70% hydration)  200g ---  Fed twice during 8-12 hrs period before use with 120g High Gluten

White Flour* (see note below) + 80g water  (1st feed = 40g flour + 25g water,  2nd feed = 80g flour + 55g water)


High Gluten White Flour   450g * (see note below)

Strong Wholemeal flour  120g

Non-diastic malt powder  12g

Organic cane sugar  14g 

Skimmed Milk Powder (optional)   2-3 tbls

Instant Dry Yeast (Easy Blend Yeast)  2g (about 1/2 tsp)    optional (Note: Without added yeast,it needs longer fermentation and the crumb is slightly denser)

Good quality sea salt   12g

Filtered water or bottled spring water   300-310g


For boiling water …..Malt extract/syrup or light brown sugar and bicarbonate of soda


* Note :  High Gluten White Flour …. I use Waitrose Very Strong Canadian Flour (from Canadian Red Spring Wheat, protein 15%)



  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Mix sourdough and water in a separate bowl and stir to loosen the sourdough.
  3. Pour the sourdough/water into the dry ingredients and mix until no dry bits is left.  Rest for 15 minutes or so to let the flour absorb water.
  4. Knead for 15 – 20 minutes (it may take longer) until the gluten fully develops.
  5. Divide into 12 equal pieces and shape them into nice, neat balls with smooth, tight skin.  Put a damp (but not wet) tea towel over them and rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Shape them into bagels.  (I use,  possibly,  Japanese-style 'rope-method which has one extra-step before you elongate the dough into a rope-shape, which is similar to this video, but whatever a method that works for you should be fine)
  7. You can either final-proof at room temperature (around 1-2 hr or so, depending upon the temperature) or cold retard in a fridge overnight -24 hrs.  Be careful NOT to over-proof, or you’ll end up with soft, fluffy bagels that doesn’t ‘bite back.’
  8. Boil in the water (with malt extract/sugar and 1-2 tsp bicarbonate of soda) for 1 minute each side. 
  9. Drain on a tea towel until you boil the rest. (Better not leave for more than 5-6 minutes or you may end up with bagels with wrinkly skin)
  10. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes at 200 C.




(For this batch, only had time to retard for 5-6 hrs. Longer retardation will give you more birds-eyes.)




Best wishes and  Shalom.......just to compensate for the lack of authenticity of my bagels. :p







Floydm's picture

Your bagels are lovely, lumos.  Would you mind if I featured them on the homepage for a bit?


lumos's picture

.............................I'm speechless..........................


Of course, Floyd.  You can do anything with it, it's all yours!  I just feel so honoured beyond my belief. Thank you.  ::bows::

ananda's picture

Hi lumos,

These are as good as any I've seen, alongside LindyD's

and they were really exceptional.

I wish I could get excited by bagels, but it hasn't happened yet.   Maybe one day?

Well done on the feature

Very best wishes


lumos's picture

Thanks, Anydy!   ..... Yes, one day, definitely.  

There're so many people who rave about bagels, especially in US, so we've got to think there must be something in it.  Actually bagels are very popular bread among Japanese homebakers, too, in recent years, perhaps one of the top 5.  As I wrote, I really don't know what 'the authentic' bagels are like. Maybe both of us need to taste the real McCoy one day. ;) 

I have seen LindyD's bagels when it was posted (Beautiful bagels, Lindy! :).  I used to make yeast-based bagels like that before, but since I started my sourdough,  my priority is almost always how to use it as regularly as possible to keep it healthy, hence switching to sourdough bagels.  Would love to make yeast-based one again sometime, because it'd give you more chunky, fat bagels.  Could be just me, but sourdough ones tends to get slightly flatter than yeasted ones.

best wishes,


SylviaH's picture

On your beautiful front page post!  Those are some very fine looking bagels indeed!  One of these days,  I will bake bagels : )


lumos's picture

Thanks, Sylvia!

   I only started making bagels because my sister in Tokyo who is just a very, very occasional baker told me it's one of the easiest bread to make. Yes, one of these days, for you,  too. ;)

best wishes,


breadsong's picture

Hello lumos,
I just read through your recipe and method - thanks for sharing - the shaping video is so helpful!
I sure do appreciate what you contribute.
:^) from breadsong

lumos's picture

Hi, breadsong!  Thank you. :)

Yes, the Japanese method may look slightly more tedious than more conventional  rope-method, but building the tension on the surface like that difinitely helps to get shiny, smooth skin.  The only difference of my way to that video is that I use a short rolling pin to flatten the end of the rope (just like this), rather than bashing it down with the heel of hand as in the video.  Once you get used to this, it's just so easy to do and the end result is (almost) guaranteed.

best wishes,



dmsnyder's picture

I like that technique. I learned it from Maggie Glezer, I believe, for shaping ropes for braiding challot. However, the flattening of one end before bringing the ends together is new to me. I'll try it!



lumos's picture

Thanks, David! :)

As I said to breadsong above, my flattening technique is slightly different from that video (Sorry, that was the only video I could find with similar techniques for other parts of shaping).  Please refer to the link I pasted in her post above.

Once you get a hang of it, there's no return!........I think. :p

best wishes,


ww's picture

hi lumos,

great-looking bagels. I think you're being too modest, if you have willing buyers for these, they must be as good as they come. If ever i feel like making wholewheat bagels, i'll look to your recipe. And lovely smooth surface too. The one time i tried bagels, they did come out of the hot bath looking like shrivelled skin, but smoothed out nicely in the oven. thanks for the recipe!

lumos's picture

Hi, ww! Thank you for your kind words. :)

The friend (and her hubby) who buy those bagels from me is a big fan of wholemeal bread, so this is the recipe I conjured up for her.   The propotion of WW is than 20%, so it does give the depth of flavour but not heavyness.  I tried with higher propotion of WW before, but I found if you increase it more than this, bagels don't 'bite back.'  Also their kids are not a huge fan of ww-heavy bread (unlike their mum), so this is a sort of compromise for them which, luckily, worked for both. 

After you boil the bagels, you have to put it in the oven within just a few minutes, at most, or you could end up with wrinkly skin.   This is how I do it :

1. I use a large, deep roasting pan to boil the bagels. It can take 6 bagels at a time which is exactly the number my baking sheet can take to bake them.  

2. When the first batch is boiled on both sides, I put it on a tray with a tea towel on to drain, while I put the second batch in to the boiling water.

3. Once they're all in, I transfer the drained bagels (the first batch) on to a baking sheet and put it in the oven. (higher shelf)

4. And when the second batch has finished boiling, I just transfer them directly on another baking sheet (make sure it's drained well) and put it in the oven (lower shelf).   Put the fan on to ensure both batches are baked as evenly as possible (which never do, as you know....:p).

5.  Take the first batch out of the oven when the time is up (or they 'look' baked enough) and move the second batch to the higher shelf and bake for a few more minutes.

Hope this helps. ;)


Syd's picture

Beautiful looking bagels, Lumos.  They are all so perfectly shaped.  Very well done! :) 



lumos's picture

Thanks, Syd!

I think maybe Floyd just wanted a photo with black background to go with the picture of your beautiful loaf. :p

best wishes,


Foamheart's picture

Those are amazing looking Bagels. I make bagels about once a month since in South Louisiana we have a hard time finding real bagels. People looked down their nose when I started, now I get friends asking for them. Never thought of Sourdough, 'course I have not progressed to that stage yet.

When I attempted WW, I used a 75/25 mix and I immediately went back to the old tryed and true, but they made good toothing rings for the neighboors kid!  May have to try WW again w/ a lessor percentage like yours.

When I take 'em out of the boil I set them on the tea towel a moment and then flip them over into a pan of seseme seeds or poppy seeds. I just like the crunch, I just can't help myself. 

Really impressive Lumos, thanks for sharing.


lumos's picture

Thank you so much for your kind word, Foamheart.  :)

Yeah, I think bagels don't really work with too much WW.  The above ratio is the highest I could go without losing its typical 'bite-back' characteristic.  If I go for a more authentic texture, I'd rather have much less WW or even none, but this formulae was made for the friend who loves bagels AND ww, so it's a sort of compromise. 

The above recipe can be easily converted to dry yeast based, too, though the flavour won't be as complex or deep as sourdough based.  It's nearly my bed time (in UK) and my brain's already half asleep, so if you're interested, let me know. I'll give you the converted recipe.


teketeke's picture

Hi lumos,

I tried your bagels today and it turned out great.  I followed your ingredients precisely except the flour. ( I used Arthur King bread brand flour instead) I started to keep sourdough besides raisin yeast water because I found out that I can feed the discarded sourdough starter to my chickens, especially for my sick chicken.

 The method was changed a bit because I was little busy to take care of our animals and kids.

Here are your bagels: My daughter who only likes white bread loves yours! Thank you very much, lumos.

P.S UKのGET-TOGETHERもうまくいきますように。


lumos's picture


Thanks for your kind words. Glad to hear your daughter liked it inspite of WW in it. 

How high is the protein level of King Arthur flour you used? It's worth using the highest gluten flour you can get your hand on for bagels, especially for this one because of WW.



teketeke's picture

こんにちは、lumosさん。 ^-^:

Here is another good news that my husband said that he LOVES your bagels! He ate it for breakfast right now. We all love your bagels!!  

I took some pictures of the Nutrition Facts of King Arthur whole wheat flour and bread flour.

 Arthur King bread flour:

King Arthur whole wheat flour:

Here is my husband's breakfast today.



lumos's picture


Doubly glad your husband liked it, too.

Thanks for the photos. Quite a revelation even the basis of  nutritive values on the packets in US are on cup measurements! :p

The high gluten flour I always use for any bagel recipes is 15% protein. And my regular wholemeal flour is 13.6% protein. (yours are a bit over 13%)   I think you really need high gluten (=very strong) flour to make bagels to get chewy texture. So next time you make bagels (anybody's formula), try using flour with higher protein level.  I think you'll find the texture more satisfying (as any good bagels should be ;) ) and get more volume.


teketeke's picture

 Hi lumos,

Thank you for the detail of the high gluten flour you use, which is very helpful.  I thought that the dough was softer for the bagel while I was kneading. Usually I hardly get to knead the dough for bagels so that I use FP or my feet to stamp the dough like making UDON..  I will use high gluten flour like yours next time, or I may try to use less water like 50% hydration as to 100% total flour using King Arthur brand one.

I wanted use the Japanese language to type udon and ashibumi and so on, but my computer is not working correctly to type Japanese right now.  Kochirakoso doumo desu.^-^:


lumos's picture


cranbo's picture

lumos, those bagels look very good, and thanks for sharing that shaping video in the OP. I ended up with some wrinkly bagels last night, and I think it's because my dough was not degassed well enough before shaping. That video really makes it pretty clear: all the air is really knocked out before the shaping is done. 

That shaping technique is interesting compared to the many videos of commercial techniques I found on YouTube. In those, they slice a long rope from a big piece of dough, and starting from the right of the rope to the left: pre-roll with the left-hand, tighten and extend the roll with the right hand (RH), and the RH closes and pinches it off...all the while the LH is pre-rolling the next rope for a bagel. They don't degas at all per se, and yet their bagels appear to come out smooth and tight. I guess that's what happens when you make 900 bagels a day! ;)

lumos's picture

Really happy if any of my post was useful to someone in any way. :)  I'm only paying back a huge debt I owe to this forum for all the info and tips I've been getting from this wonderful community.

Not quite sure how wrinkly your bagels were, but if it's not bumpy with obvious air pockets underneath but really 'wrinkly' like old people's skin (excuse for the description. :p) it might be due to the time lag between boiling and baking.   If you leave boiled dough for too long before loading it into the oven, you can sometimes get wrinkly skin.  

Yeah, I've seen a few videos of professional making hundreds of bagels. They're absolutely fascinating!  The video in my opening post is really for home bakers who can afford to spend a liiitle longer time to shape each bagel, I think. ;)


teketeke's picture

 Hi lumos,

I came back to tell you that I tried your bagels again after I bought Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten flour... The protein 23g per 1/4 cup or 30g which is 76.6666...%    I calcurated it to get to close your protein percentage this time.

Unfortunately, I had to do some household to take care of our animals during the time that I had to preshape and shape the dough...  

 We also have one large dog inside the house and 4 more chickens are outside.

 After finish kneading the dough, I couldn't go next step to preshape the dough.. so I put it in the plastic bag


and left it for 1 hour ( my plan was 30 minutes..) I felt that the dough rose too much for  bagels... While kneading the dough, I felt the dough was stronger  than the day I used only KA bread flour. 

I proofed them at 75F for only 30 minutes and baked. I tested if they were ready to bake like this.

My daughter joined to shape the dough too...  She loves to do that so...

   After shaping

     After baking...

The texture was different from the other one I baked. It is chewer and more volume for sure.  Very nice flavor as same as the others I tried above, lumos. Next time, I better make sure to get the right time for the bulk fermentation. 

Thank you for your lovely bagel recipe, again.  If you have any suggestion, Please let me know because you know a lot  about bread.

P.S I respect your bread baking as well as your language skill,

Best wishes,


Laura T.'s picture
Laura T.

きれいなベーグルです!私はグルテンフリーのバージョンを焼くためにいします! ^-^

lumos's picture

どうもありがとうございます。However, so  sorry, I didn't quite understand what you were trying to say, I'm afraid. Can you please tell me what you meant  by「いします」?  

Good luck with your  gluten-free version, anyway. Let me know how it turned out.  :-)