Sourdough Bagels

by May 29, 2022

If you’ve been to our house this year you’ve probably had these bagels with cream cheese lox. The ingredients are easy to keep on hand and you can stir it together super fast or the day before.

This recipe is adapted from Maurizio Leo’s 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 mix your levain. I either mix the levain the night before and then mix, bulk ferment, form and bake the bagels late in the next day. Or I mix the levain in the morning, leave it to mature 7 hours then mix, bulk ferment, form, and set the sheet pan in the refrigerator until the following morning for baking. Either way is great.

Recipe updated: March 3, 2024

Sourdough Bagels

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


for the levain (needs 7 hours or overnight to mature)

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

for the dough

  • 850 grams all-purpose flour Wheat Montana blue bag
  • 500 grams water
  • 197 grams levain this should be weight of your levain after developing about 7 hours
  • 30 grams diastatic malt powder Anthony's; optional but helps with the browning
  • 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 at least 7 hours.

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). I do two or three sets of stretch and folds, but Maurizio's latest recipe in his book says they are not necessary.

form the bagels:

  1. After bulk fermentation, divide dough into 12 approximately equal pieces. Roll each into a rope, wrap it around your knuckles and palm of your hand to roll against counter and shape—check Maurizo's photos and/or YouTube bagel shaping for reference. If dough is sticking to your hand, lightly flour it.

  2. Sprinkle cornmeal on a sheet pan. Line up the shaped bagels, three rows of four. Loosely cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap—not overly tight so that the bagels have some room to rise. Set the sheet pan in a warm place to proof for 2–3 hours. Either proceed with baking or set sheet pan in the refrigerator to retard the fermentation overnight.

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 450° with convection. If you don't have convection, crank your temp to 475°.

  2. Set a large stockpot of water to boil.

  3. If you did the 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. Top your bagels with pretzel salt, poppyseeds, sesame seeds, or leave them plain.

  4. Bake bagels for 15 minutes at 450° (475° if no convection), lower temperature to 425° (450° if no convection) for an additional 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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