Sourdough Bagels

Sourdough bagels are the very best kind of bagel; they are substantial, delicious and don’t go rock hard a few hours after being baked. The dough is quite firm and easy to work with so they are a good starting point for sourdough experiments. When the bakery opened, bagels were one of the baked goods most requested by our customers familiar with bagels from North London to New York and we started working on them early on. We keep increasing the numbers we make but it’s never enough – they sell out fast especially at weekends.

Serving Size

Makes 12 bagels


Stage 1: Refreshment

17 g wheat starter (8–12 hours after its last refreshment)
35 g water
35g strong white bread flour

Stage 3: Dough mix

530 g water
12 g malt syrup
450 g strong white bread flour
500 g plain white flour
1 tbsp sea salt
sunflower oil, for greasing
rice flour, for dusting

Stage 2: Refreshment

87 g water
144 g strong white bread flour
36 g caster sugar


For seeded bagels:
300 g poppy or sesame seeds.
For mixed bagels:
200 g sesame seeds
100 g nigella seeds
20 g caraway seeds
10 g fennel seeds
2 pinches chilli flakes
½ tsp sea salt

Malt syrup for cooking


Place all the stage 1 ingredients in a 500ml (17fl oz) jar or container with a lid, cover and leave in a warm place for 8–12 hours.

Mix the stage 2 starter ingredients into the same jar and leave in a warm place for 8–10 hours.

When you are ready to mix the dough, place the water, 303g (11 oz) of starter, malt syrup, flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix with a spoon or your hand until fully combined and then turn out onto a clean work surface and knead for 10 minutes. Do not add any extra flour to the work surface.

Use a dough scraper or stiff spatula to lift any sticky bits from the surface back into the dough. You can use a free standing mixer if you have one but because the dough is quite dry it may be too much for the machine. If you use a mixer, 10 minutes at a low speed will be sufficient. The dough is ready when is it is no longer sticky and feels smooth and strong.

Use the sunflower oil to grease a large mixing bowl or a rectangular flat bottomed glass or plastic container with a capacity of at least 3 litres (5¼ pints). Transfer the dough to the bowl or container, cover and rest for 3 hours in a warm place.

Lightly grease a large tray with sunflower oil. Divide the dough into 12 x 150g (5 oz) pieces and roll each into a rough sausage shape. Place in rows, with space between, on the tray, cover with baking parchment or a clean tea towel and allow to rest for 30–40 minutes. This allows the gluten to relax and will give a nice shape to the bagel.

Line a large tray with baking parchment and dust the parchment with rice flour. To shape the bagels, take one of the pieces and lay it horizontally in front of you.

With both hands together, on the middle of the piece of dough, start rolling with outwards pressure so the pieces extend evenly. You may need to repeat this, starting again from the middle – don’t pull the dough to make it longer. When it is about 18–20cm (7–8 in) long, wrap the strand around your four fingers with the join in your palm and roll again on the surface to seal.

Lay the bagels on the lined tray and leave at room temperature for 1–2 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Then place in the fridge overnight or for up to 36 hours.

When you are ready to cook the bagels, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Place the seeds or mixed topping ingredients in bowls. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.

Pour enough water to into a large pan and bring to the boil. Add the malt syrup and then boil the bagels in batches of 3. Remove from the water after 30 seconds and place on a wire rack to drain. After a minute or two when they are tacky rather than wet (but don’t wait too long or they will be too dry to hold the seeds) drop the bagel into the bowl of seeds or mixed topping ingredients and then place on the lined baking tray. Repeat until all the bagels are boiled and coated.

Bake the bagels for 15 minutes. Then turn the tray and reduce the oven temperature to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 7 and bake for an additional 10–15 minutes.

Leave to cool on the tray.


Once cooled, the bagels can be frozen. Slice in half before freezing so you can pop them straight in the toaster!

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