Sourdough bagels are flavorful and chewy, offering a distinct tanginess from the natural fermentation process. Boiled and baked to perfection, they provide a delicious twist on the classic bagel experience.
Is there anything better than warm, homemade sourdough bagels? I honestly don't think so! Where I live in New England, we really can't get good bagels. There are some that are decent, but if you want to make the best, make your own! I'll walk you step by step through this sourdough bagel recipe!
I should note that all of the ingredients in this recipe are measured in grams. It is more precise than cups and tablespoons.
How To Make Sourdough Bagels
When I first started making sourdough breads, I bought Emilie Raffa's book and I read her blog. If you are serious about sourdough, which a lot of people were in 2020, I recommend looking her up. She is a wealth of knowledge on the subject!
The first thing to do when making homemade sourdough bagels is to make sure you are using an active sourdough starter. That means it should be just fed and active and bubbly. You can make your own sourdough starter from scratch, buy one, or get one from a sourdough friend. Before making these homemade sourdough bagels, I will feed my starter twice to ensure that the starter is active enough.
These bagels will take at least 12 hours to make, so it is a bit of a time commitment just like whole wheat sourdough bagels. There's no rushing it, just like with any other yeast or wild yeast risen bread, you need to give it time. The dough can be prepared at night, let it rise overnight, and bake it in the morning.
If you wanted to make them really sourdough flavored, you could make the dough in the morning and let it sit all day. Shape the bagels and put them on a baking sheet in the refrigerator overnight. When you wake up in the morning you can boil and bake them and enjoy them for breakfast. They are so good that way!
Making the Sourdough Bagel Dough
Let's get started. First, you will add the starter, water, and sugar to a bowl. I suggest the bowl to a stand mixer. This dough is very heavy and dense, so if can be very difficult to mix by hand. It's not impossible to mix it by hand, it's just a lot of work. Make sure to mix that all together to combine all the ingredients.
Next you'll add the flours and salt to the bowl. I used a combination of whole wheat and bread flour, but you could use all bread flour if you prefer or if you don't have whole wheat flour on hand. The bagel dough should look like the picture below.
Cover that with a damp towel for one hour. When that one hour is done, take the top section of the dough and fold it over into the middle of the dough then rotate the bowl slightly. Continue to do that for about 20 seconds until you have rotated the bowl the entire way. The dough should look smooth and round. This is really the only kneading that we will do of this dough.
Cover the dough and let it sit at room temperature for 8-10 hours, depending on how cold your house is. If it's warmer, you won't need more than 8 hours, but if it's cold, you might need 10-11 hours until the dough doubles in size. Usually, you will let this rest overnight so you can bake them in the morning.
The next morning
When you wake up the next morning, place the dough onto a lightly floured counter and dimple the dough gently to make the dough into a square on your counter.
Let that sit on the counter for 10 minutes. This is called the "Bench Rest". After ten minutes, cut the dough with a large knife or a bench scraper into 8 pieces (10 pieces if you want smaller bagels).
Now it is time to take those pieces of dough and turn them into balls. I find it easiest to take the corners of the triangle and fold them under the dough, meeting in the middle. Continue to fold the dough into itself to make a ball. Place them onto a silicone baking mat or parchment paper lined baking sheet or sheet pan. Do that for all the pieces and then cover it with a damp towel and let that rest for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, poke a hole through the center of the dough ball and pull the dough apart gently to create a hole in the center. Do that for all the bagels and place it them back on the baking sheet. The dough may shrink back on itself slightly but that is normal. Don't stress about it at all. Cover that once again with the damp towel and now let's get ready to boil the bagels.
Let's Boil and Bake some Sourdough Bagels
While the bagels rest, get a large pot and fill it with water. Add 2 tablespoons of honey to the water. Sometimes people use barley malt syrup, but honey is easier to find. This gives the bagels a slight sweetness and aids in browning the bagels in the oven.
Bring the water to a gentle boil and add 2-3 bagels at a time, depending on the size of your pot. Boil the New York style bagels for 1 minute on each side, then flip all the bagels and boil for another minute on the other side. When they are done boiling, carefully dip them into the topping of your choice. You could use sesame seeds or everything bagel seasoning.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Once all the bagels have been boiled, bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes depending on your oven. Serve immediately.
What To Top Sourdough Bagels With
- Everything Bagel Seasoning
- Sesame Seeds
- Poppy Seeds
- Cinnamon and Sugar
- Shredded cheddar cheese
Sourdough Bagel FAQs
Yes! Leftover bagels can be sliced and frozen in a Ziploc bag. You can take out a half or a whole bagel and toast them as you need them. Freeze them for up to 3 months.
Sourdough bagels do not use commercial yeast in the bagel dough. They use wild yeast from an active starter. The natural fermentation process makes the dough rise instead of a packet of yeast.
They do have a little bit of that sour taste from the long fermentation process. To increase the sour flavor, let the dough sit in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
You can make this dough up to 24 hours before you need to bake it. Make sure it stays covered with a damp kitchen towel so the dough does not create a hard crust.
More Recipes To Try!
When making these bagels, be sure to check out what to serve with bagels for lots of different and delicious recipes!
Homemade Sourdough Bagels
- 175 g Fed and Bubbly Starter 100% Hydration
- 300 g Warm Water
- 24 g Sugar
- 275 g Whole Wheat Flour
- 275 g Bread Flour
- 12 g Salt
- 20 g Honey
- Make sure that your starter is bubbly and active for this recipe.
- Using a kitchen scale, measure the starter, warm water, and sugar in a stand mixer bowl. Mix that with a fork to combine the ingredients. Then add the whole wheat flour and bread flour to the bowl. Measure out the salt and add that as well. Mix everything with the dough hook of the stand mixer to combine. This dough is pretty heavy, so the stand mixer will help to get all the ingredients well combined. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use your hands, it just might take a little longer. Turn the stand mixer on and mix everything for about 2 minutes or until everything comes together and there is no flour on the bottom of the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place it in a warm spot for 1 hour.
- When the hour is up, using clean hands, fold the dough onto itself for about 20 seconds. Take the top of the dough and fold it into the middle of the dough. Rotate the bowl and continue doing that for about 20 seconds. Cover the bowl again with a damp towel and let that sit in a warm place for 8-10 hours, or overnight.
- After the dough has risen, it should be doubled in size. Place it onto a lightly floured surface and gently flatten the dough with your finger tips. Let that sit on the counter for 10 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces with a bench scrapper or a large knife. Take each piece individually and make a ball out of each piece. You can do that by folding the dough into itself and creating a ball. Put the dough balls on a parchment paper or silicon lined baking sheet and let that sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- When the 20 minutes is up, stick your finger in the center of the dough ball and gently pull apart the dough to create the signature bagel hole in the center. Do that for all the dough balls. The dough may shrink back on itself and that is totally normal.
- Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
- While the dough rests, preheat the oven to 425°. Fill a large pot with water and place it on the stove to boil. Add 2 Tablespoons of honey to the water and allow the water to boil. Once it comes to a gentle boil, add 2-3 bagels at a time and boil the bagels for 1 minute on each side. Once the 2 minutes are up, carefully place the bagels back on the baking sheet. If you would like, once the bagel is done boiling, carefully place the bagel in whatever topping you would like (sesame seeds, everything seasoning) and then place it on the baking sheet. Continue doing this for all the bagels.
- When all the bagels are boiled and topped with your seasoning of choice, bake the bagels for 30-35 minutes, depending on your oven.
- Serve immediately, or once they are completely cooled you can split them in half and freeze them for use throughout the week or whenever you would like a bagel.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links in which I receive a small commission on any items purchased