Sourdough Bagels

by May 29, 2022

Sometimes I wonder if the upkeep of my sourdough starter is worth it. But then I’ll bake something, usually with a recipe from Maurizio, and I’m reminded: it’s so worth it! This recipe is adapted from his Sourdough Bagels and if you are at all confused by my abbreviated instructions, please refer back to his impeccably thorough original.

I made these yesterday and baked them this morning and, as is usually the case, I learned something new. Look at this bagel here:

See that texture change on the crust delineated by a line? That’s where the plastic wrap I used to cover the sheet pan full of formed bagels didn’t quite cover this one and that exposed area dried out during the overnight retard. Isn’t that interesting? Not as bubbly, chewy, or browned in that part. So covering the bagels is important.

So, here we go. Make sure you have plenty of cream cheese on hand and start this process the night before you want bagels. I have switched from a three day process to two, because I like how the bagels proof and get puffier without the overnight retard in the refrigerator. If you live in a warm climate, you might want to extend the fermentation time to further develop the flavor, but in Montana, enough sour develops by leaving the dough out at room temperature during bulk fermentation and proofing—we need all the warm we can get!  I hope you’ll try this recipe, it really isn’t hard and the bagels are very good.

Recipe updated: February 23, 2023

Sourdough Bagels

makes 12 bagels; recipe adapted from Maurizio Leo at The Perfect Loaf


for the levain (night before)

  • 23 grams ripe sourdough starter
  • 116 grams all-purpose flour Wheat Montana blue bag
  • 60 grams water

for the dough (next morning)

  • 850 grams all-purpose flour Wheat Montana blue bag
  • 500 grams water
  • 197 grams levain this should be weight of your levain after developing overnight, if not and it is close, use it all and proceed with recipe. if way off on the low end, add equal parts additional starter and flour and water to build to 197 grams.
  • 30 grams diastatic malt powder Anthony's is good
  • 30 grams granulated sugar
  • 18 grams sea salt

for the sheet pan for rising:

  • ¼ cup cornmeal

optional toppings: poppy seeds, coarse salt, or sesame seeds


making the levain:

  1. Mix starter, flour, and water in a pint sized container. Cover loosely and let sit at room temperature overnight.

making the dough:

  1. Mix the flour, water, levain, malt powder, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl with a dough hook until the dough comes together and then mix for 5 more minutes on medium speed.

  2. Start 3 hours of bulk fermentation at warm room temperature with the dough bowl covered (use a towel, plastic wrap, or a bowl cover). About every 30 minutes, 30/60/90, do a set of "stretch and folds", either in the bowl or by removing dough from the bowl and doing it on the counter.

    How to do a set of stretch and folds in the bowl: Wet your hands and starting at the "noon" position of your bowl, scoop the dough from the bottom of the bowl up and fold it over towards the middle of the dough ball. Repeat this every quarter turn around the bowl—from "noon" to "3 o'clock" bottom stretch to middle, "6 o'clock", "9 o'clock"—one complete trip around the clock equals one set of stretch and folds. Aim for at least 3 stretch and folds within the 3 hour bulk fermentation time but you can do it as frequently as every 30 minutes for a total of 6 times.

form the bagels:

  1. After bulk fermentation, weigh your dough and divide by 12. Portion into equal amounts and roll each into a rope, wrap it around your knuckles and palm of your hand to shape—check Maurizo's photos and/or YouTube bagel shaping.

  2. Sprinkle cornmeal on a sheet pan. Place each shaped bagel on the cornmeal covered sheet pan. Loosely cover the bagels with lightly oiled plastic wrap—not overly tight so that the bagels have some room to rise.

    Now is the time to either transfer the sheet pan to the refrigerator to retard the fermentation overnight or set the sheet pan in a warm place to proof for 2–3 hours (sometimes I go to 4 hours, it just depends...if they proof to a puffier state they make puffier bagels, not as dense.)

boil and bake:

  1. If you have a baking stone, set that in on the middle rack of your oven, if not don't worry about it. Preheat oven to 475°.

  2. Set a large stockpot of water to boil.

  3. If you did an overnight retard, remove the sheet pan of bagels from the refrigerator, otherwise your room temperature proofed bagels are ready to go. Once water comes to a boil, drop in the bagels (4 at a time works for the size of my pot) and boil 40 seconds on side one, flip, and 40 seconds on side two. Scoop bagels out using a strainer or slotted spoon and transfer to a Silpat-lined or parchment-lined sheet pan for baking, 6 per sheet pan. This is the time to top your bagels if you are going for something other than plain.

  4. Bake bagels for 15 minutes at 475°, lower temperature to 450° for final 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes / Tips

  • If you're looking for pretzel salt, I have plenty to share if you are in Bozeman, please just ask! I ordered a bag from, I think it's a pound. Ha!
  • Also for Bozeman, if you ever need some starter, just let me know! 

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