Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sourdough Surprises #4 - Sourdough Bagels

I can't believe that this is the fourth month for Sourdough Surprises - I am having so much fun!

And this month was something super special for me, because it was something I'd been wanting to try ever since I started my whole sourdough adventure - bagels! 

I have made bagels once before, but that was well before I started sourdough-ing. So I was very excited to try a sourdough version.  We found this recipe, which  was 100% sourdough (no commercial yeast), and I couldn't wait to get started.

The recipe calls for quite a bit of starter, though, so I had to do a little bit of pre-planning. At any given time, the amount of starter that I have on hand is equal to about 250 grams, give or take a few grams.  For these bagels, you'll need 301 grams.

Which means you may need to bulk up your starter before getting started. (And don't forget that you'll need some extra so you can feed it again and build it back up!)

But quantities aside, this recipe was actually super simple.  Add all of the ingredients into the bowl of your mixer and, well, mix. A couple of short rests (seriously - short. 10 minutes each.), and you're ready to shape some bagels.

There are two schools of thought as to how to shape bagels.  The method I used the first time was the thumb-poke method. Basically, roll each section of dough into a ball and, well, poke your thumb through the middle of it. Then carefully stretch the hole, rolling the bagel on your thumb and, if needed, against your work surface until it, well, looks like a bagel.

This recipe, however, called for the other method which I'd read before. Instead of rolling each section of dough into a ball, you roll each section into a snake, tapered at the ends.

Then wrap the snake around the palm of your hand.

And roll the overlap against your work surface to seal the ends together.

As you can see, I couldn't decide which method to use, so I did half and half. In the name of science, of course - to see which would work better!

So the shaped bagels proofed for several hours at room temperature, then overnight in the refrigerator.

And in the morning, we were ready to cook.

I was actually a little surprised that, when I took the tray of bagels out of the refrigerator in the morning, they didn't really look that much different... no real noticeable puffing or anything.

But I was not deterred.

The cooking process for these, like for the other bagels I'd made and as with our pretzels, requires two steps.

First the bagels are boiled in a baking soda bath.

Out of the boiling water, we gave half of our bagels a sprinkle of our multi-seed mix to make them everything bagels.

Then they baked in a nice, hot oven until they are beautifully golden brown.

Oh my gosh, how awesome are those? Seriously, how much better does breakfast get than one of these, fresh out of the oven?

They had a good crunch to the crust, a really nice chew to the inside, and were delicious spread with butter or cream cheese.

So were yours as yummy as mine? I can't wait to see them. So link up!

I am looking forward to trying a couple more variations of these - cinnamon raisin? Blueberry? The possibilities are endless, and tasty to imagine.

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting.

Sourdough Bagels
(from the Wild Yeast blog)

349 g high-gluten flour (or 339 g flour plus 10 g vital wheat gluten)
121 g cold water
28 g milk powder
16.4 g non-diastatic malt powder (I used barley malt powder)
10.1 g (1 2/3 teaspoons) salt
301 g active 100%-hydration sourdough starter
1 tablespoon baking soda for boiling

Combine the starter, water, flour, malt, milk powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed to combine.
Mix on medium-low speed until the dough is very smooth and strong, almost rubbery. How long this takes will depend upon your mixer. I mixed mine for about 5 minutes or so, while I was doing other things, checking on it a few times to see how it felt.
Turn the dough out onto an unfloured counter and work a few turns by hand. Form the dough into a smooth ball; the surface should feel satiny and tight.
Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rest for 10 minutes. I let mine sit longer, as we were busy around the house, but I don't think this was a problem.
Divide the dough into 8 even pieces of about 100 g each. Form each piece into a light ball, cover, and let rest for another 10 minutes (again, I let mine sit longer).
Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and dust it generously with semolina (I used regular corn meal).
To shape each bagel, roll the dough into a cylinder about 8 – 10 inches long without tapering the ends. Wrap the cylinder around your hand, with the ends overlapping by about two inches in your palm. Roll your palm on the (still unfloured) counter to smash the ends together. (Note: if the dough is a little dry, give it a quick spritz of water with a fine spray bottle before shaping. This helps it roll more easily, and the ends stick to each other.)
Alternatively, you can poke your thumb through the middle of each ball, then carefully pull and roll to stretch the hole and shape your bagel.
Place the shaped bagels on the prepared cookie sheets, and slip into a large food-grade plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap. Proof for about 4 hours at warm room temperature, until the bagels look and feel a bit puffy. Then refrigerate them for 4 – 8 hours (I left mine in the refrigerator overnight).
When you are ready to cook your bagels, preheat the oven to 425F and put a large pot of water on to boil.
When the water is almost boiling, place a cooling rack on the counter with a dishtowel underneath it. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator, brush the semolina off their bottoms, and place them on the cooling rack.
When the water has reached a rolling boil, add the baking soda (carefully - it will foam up when you add it!). Drop the bagels, three or four at a time, into the vigorously boiling water for 20 seconds. They may or may not float right away, but they should float by the time the 20 seconds are up. If they float right away so the tops are not submerged initially, flip them over about halfway through the boil.
Remove the bagels from the water to the cooling rack with a slotted spatula. Let them drain for about 30 seconds before replacing them back onto the semolina-dusted, parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Turn the oven down to 400F once the bagels are in. Bake until golden brown, about 24 – 26 minutes. About halfway through baking, open the oven door briefly to vent any steam.
Cool on a wire rack.



  1. Oh boy, lovely inner tubes! I prefer the snake shaping method myself, but the thumb-poke method makes really nice puffy rounds so next time, I'll do half and half like you!

  2. Blueberry, try blueberry and share the recipe, these look amazing!!!

  3. Beautiful bagels! Reading your post makes me want to start another batch RIGHT NOW! I'm definitely making cinnamon raisin next time. :)

  4. Awesome, Awesome job!!! All of your pictures are fantastic, and such good info on the differences between the rolling methods. Yours ended up with a beautiful golden sheen, and I love your everything seed mix! Delicious job, Shelley!!!

  5. Your bagels look amazing! Nice job :)

  6. Your bagels are so beautiful! Such a gorgeous crumb. And seeds! Mmm.

    I'm scrabbling for time this week, so I'm afraid my post is a bit on the small side, but I wanted to pop by and say thanks. I've always wanted to try bagels!


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