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 “T minus two” days before the morning you want to eat bagels—that day is easy, you just mix the levain (using a tiny amount of your fed sourdough starter) before you go to bed. The next day, T-1, is bread making day where you mix, bulk ferment, shape the bagels, proof, then retard overnight. Then it’s baking day and it goes really fast—set a pot of water to boil and preheat your oven to 475°—the bagels go straight from the refrigerator to a 40 second boil each side then into the oven, no more rising or waiting required. I hope you’ll try this recipe, it really isn’t hard and the bagels are very good.

Sourdough Bagels

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


for the levain (day T-2)

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

for the dough (day T-1)

  • 848 grams all-purpose flour Wheat Montana blue bag
  • 483 grams water
  • 197 grams levain this should be weight of your levain from T-2, 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.
  • 32 grams diastatic malt powder Anthony's is good
  • 29 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 (T-2):

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

making the dough (T-1):

  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, 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. Cover the sheet pan of bagels with plastic wrap—not overly tight, so that the bagels have some room to rise. Set in warm room temperature place to proof for 2 hours. Then transfer the sheet pan to the refrigerator to retard the fermentation overnight.

baking day!

  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. Remove bagels from the refrigerator. 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.

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