If you’d like to learn how to make soft chewy flavorful sourdough bagels from scratch at home then this is the course for you!
2022 Update: I’ve decided to make my sourdough e-courses open and accessible to all and have moved all of the course materials to blog posts. The following instructions and recipe for my homemade sourdough bagels are from 2020. This is still the same recipe and method I use today for the best bagels made at home.
What You’ll Get From This Course
- 3 detailed videos breaking down every step of the process and recipe
- A printable recipe and baking schedule
- Recommended equipment links
Intro to Making Sourdough Bagels:
Welcome to my sourdough bagel mini-course. In this course I will teach you how I make sourdough bagels from start to finish, breaking up the process into 3 detailed videos.
In part 1 we will go over the ingredients, mixing the dough and bulk fermentation.
In part 2 we will divide the dough, shape the bagels and let them prove.
In part 3 we will go over boiling the bagels, adding toppings and baking them.
Let’s get started!
Part 1: Mix Bagel Dough and Bulk Ferment
In this video we will go over the ingredients, mixing the dough, and bulk fermentation.
Then add 40g of honey and 450g of water. Give it a little stir with a fork.
I like to mix this dough in a stand mixer with a dough hook because the dough is quite stiff, but it can be done by hand as well.
Mix it on the lowest setting for about 5-8 minutes.
If your dough tries to escape, stop the mixer and push it back down.
The dough will be soft and tacky.
After the dough is done mixing, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface then shape it into a smooth round ball.
If you’re doing this by hand, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it comes together into a soft smooth ball.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover it tightly with a wrap to keep it from drying out. I’m using beeswax wrap but plastic wrap or a plastic shower cap will work as well.
Since the dough is tacky you can also lightly oil the bowl and underside of the wrap.
We’re going to let this bulk ferment until it doubles in volume which will take about 8 hours at room temperature.
Bulk fermentation could be faster in warm climates or slower in cold climates. If you’re making the dough in the evening you can put it in the fridge overnight to slow the fermentation and take it out in the morning to finish bulk fermenting so that it does not overproof.
In the following video, I’ll show you how to shape the bagels.
Part 2: Shape and Proof Bagels
In this video, we will shape our dough into bagels and let them prove.
The dough has finished bulk fermenting and has doubled in volume.
Turn the dough out onto the work surface.
Lightly dust the dough, the work surface, and your hands with flour if the dough feels too sticky.
Weigh the dough then divide the total weight by 12 to get the weight each bagel should be.
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. You can also divide the dough by eye rather than weighing each portion out if you’d rather.
Lightly dust your hands with flour and start shaping each portion of dough into balls.
Use the same techniques you would use to shape a round loaf of bread. Pinch the dough into the center then turn it seam side down and roll the dough in your palm against the work surface to help form it into a ball.
Tuck and nudge it into a tight round.
Keep note of the order and transfer the balls of dough to 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
By the time you’re done shaping the last ball of dough the first one you did should be rested enough to shape into a bagel.
Cover the sheet you’re not working on with a kitchen towel to keep the dough from drying out.
Dust the balls of dough and your hands with flour before you start shaping.
Start with that first ball you formed, then by the time we get to the last ball of dough it should also be rested enough.
To form each ball into a bagel, poke your thumb through the center of the ball and use your fingers to stretch the opening. Then barrel roll both sets of fingers to stretch out the dough. Once the opening is stretched out pretty far, you can snake roll the ring of dough between your palms to smooth it out.
Stretch the opening out pretty far because it will shrink back when you place it back down on the baking sheet.
Cover the bagels with kitchen towels and let them prove for about 1 hour at room temperature or until they look and feel puffy and the dough slowly bounces back after it’s pressed.
In the next video, we will boil and then bake the bagels.
Part 3: Boil and Bake Bagels
In this video we will go over boiling the bagels, adding toppings, and baking them.
First, preheat the oven to 450˚F or 230˚C.
Bring a pot of water to boil, about 3 quarts or so. This is a 4-quart saucepan. If you’re using a larger pot add more water.
Once the water is boiling stir in a spoonful of honey. The amount does not have to be exact here. Again, if using more water add a bit more honey.
Set up your station with a plate, folded paper towel or cloth towel, and a kitchen spider aka skimmer. Get your toppings ready. We love poppy seed the best so that’s all I’m going to use here. I like to add the toppings to a shallow bowl, but it is not necessary.
Add two bagels to the boiling water top side down. They should float right away. If they sink that means they should prove a bit longer. Boil them for about 30-45 seconds then flip them in the water with the kitchen spider and boil for another 30-45 seconds.
Then scoop them out of the water with the kitchen spider and dab them on the folded towel for a quick drain. If you like a lot of toppings then you can dump the bagel top side down right into the bowl of toppings. This is what I usually do but a note of caution here: the bagel is piping hot so if you don’t have a chef’s fingers then you may prefer to transfer the hot bagels right to the baking sheet and sprinkle the toppings on instead.
Keep going with batches of 2 bagels at a time.
Once the first tray is full we can start baking them while we continue boiling the second tray of bagels.
This is a cheap and handy trick to hold in steam… cover the tray with an inverted deep-sided disposable foil roasting pan. This step is not necessary but creates a better crust in my opinion.
Bake the first batch with the roasting pan cover for 5 minutes at 450˚F or 230˚C.
Then continue with boiling the second tray of bagels in the same manner as before.
After 5 minutes of baking, remove the roasting pan and lower the temperature to 425˚F or 220˚C. See the steam?! Put the timer on for 20 minutes and keep boiling the second batch.
When the second batch of bagels is ready to bake, transfer the first batch to a lower rack and turn the tray to promote even baking.
Place the second tray on the middle rack and cover it with the roasting pan. Give these 5 minutes with the roasting pan on. Make a note of the timer and do some calculations for bake time in your head or you may want to start a second timer for this batch.
After 5 minutes remove the roasting pan and give the first tray another turn while you have the oven open.
When the timer goes off for the first batch remove them from the oven and give the second batch a turn to promote even baking then close the oven and let the second batch finish baking.
Each batch should take a total of about 25 minutes, 5 with the roasting pan on and 20 with it off. That said, all ovens are a little different so look for a nice dark golden crust to know when they are ready. They will also sound hollow when tapped.
Let them cool a bit before cutting into them so the crumb does not become gummy. They can still be warm when you cut into them, though. The crumb should be soft and have small air pockets and the crust will be chewy.
Thanks for joining my sourdough bagel mini-course! Explore the rest of the course for a printable recipe, faq section, and more resources. Stay tuned for more mini-courses in the future featuring our favorite sourdough recipes!
Day 1: Mix dough in the evening and bulk ferment overnight at room temperature. If you think the dough may ferment faster, which may happen in a warmer climate, or if your house is warm, then check the progress before you go to bed and put the dough in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation if necessary. Take it out in the morning and let it come to room temperature or finish bulk fermenting if it needs to, before shaping the bagels.
Day 2: Shape, proof and bake the bagels in the morning.
How To Store Bagels
Just like any home-baked bread, bagels are best eaten the day they are made. To keep them fresh, slice and freeze them once they are cool. Store them in freezer-safe bags in the freezer for up to 6 months. Defrost them in the toaster for fresh-tasting bagels at any time.
- 200 g active sourdough starter 100% hydration
- 450 g water
- 40 g honey or barley malt syrup or brown rice syrup
- 675 g bread flour
- 75 g rye flour or whole wheat flour
- 16 g kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon honey barley malt syrup or brown rice syrup for boiling
- 1/4 cup poppy seeds or sesame seeds, onion flakes, caraway seeds, everything bagel mix, etc.
- Add water then active starter to a the bowl of a stand mixer or mixing bowl if mixing by hand. The starter should float in the water. Give it a quick stir with your hand or a fork to break the starter up.
- Now add the rest of the dough ingredients to the bowl and mix on the mixer’s lowest speed setting with a dough hook attachment for about 5-8 minutes. Or mix by hand and then knead the dough until it forms into a smooth ball. The dough should come together into a ball and will be soft and tacky.
- Turn dough out onto a work surface and form it into a smooth ball with you hands. Then place it into a mixing bowl (or back into the stand mixer bowl) and cover with a beeswax wrap or plastic wrap (or shower cap). You can optionally lightly oil the bowl and underside of the wrap so the dough releases easily after bulk fermentation.
- Bulk ferment the dough at room temperature until it doubles in volume (about 8 hours) and is soft and puffy. You may see 1 or 2 large bubbles form.
- After the dough has finished bulk fermenting turn it out onto the work surface. If you want perfectly portioned bagels weigh the entire amount of dough at this point and divide that number by 12. Then portion and weigh the dough into 12 pieces at that weight. You can also divide the dough into 12 portions by eye if you want. Press the dough into a disc and cut it into 12 equal wedges.
- Form each portion into a ball keeping note of the order as you go. To form a ball, stretch the dough out and pinch the edges into the center, then flip it seam side down and roll it on the surface, applying slight pressure under your palm. NOTE: The balls of dough should rest for about 10 minutes before shaping them into bagels, and it takes about 10 minutes to form them all. If you remember the order in which you formed them, the first ball should be rested enough to shape by the time you’ve finished forming the last ball.
- Transfer the balls to two parchment paper lined baking sheets and cover one sheet with a kitchen towel, while you work on shaping the other sheet into bagels. Lightly dust the dough and your hands with flour if the dough feels tacky.
- To shape the bagels, pick up a ball of dough and press your thumb through the center to form a hole. Stretch out the opening and barrel roll your fingers though the hole, stretching the dough into a ring with about a 2″ opening. The opening will shrink back a little when you place it back down on the sheet pan. Repeat this with each ball of dough until the sheet is completed, then cover it with a kitchen towel and move on to the other sheet.
- Once all the bagels are formed cover them with kitchen towels and let them proof at room temp or slightly warmer until they are puffy and the dough slowly bounces back when pressed. This will take about 1 hour.
- Towards the end of proofing bring about 3 quarts of water to boil in a deep saucepan and preheat the oven to 450˚F or 230˚C.
- Set up a plate with a folded paper towel and kitchen spider/skimmer and get your toppings ready.
- Once the water is boiling stir in a tablespoon of honey, barley malt syrup or brown rice syrup.
- Boil 2 bagels at time, carefully dropping them in by hand top side down. They should float right away. If they sink it means they need to proof a bit longer. Boil them for 30-45 second on one side then flip them over with the kitchen spider and boil the underside for another 30-45 seconds.
- Transfer the bagels from the boiling water with the kitchen spider and gently dab them on the paper towel lined plate to quickly drain off any dripping water. Then slide them back onto the baking sheet. Repeat boiling the bagels in batches of 2.
- Sprinkle toppings onto the boiled bagels after you transfer them back to the baking sheet.
- When the first tray is filled you can start baking it while you keep boiling the second tray of bagels.
- Place the baking sheet into the oven on the center rack and optionally place a deep sided disposable roasting pan inverted on top of the baking sheet to hold in steam. Bake for 5 minutes at 450˚F or 230˚C then remove the roasting pan and lower the temperature to 425˚F or 220˚C and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the crust is dark golden brown and the bagels sound hollow when tapped.
- The second tray of bagels should be done boiling around the time the first 5 minutes of baking is up on the first tray. So what I do is transfer the first tray to a lower rack and pop the second tray on the center rack with the inverted roasting pan and bake for 5 minutes, now at 425˚F or 220˚C . Every time I open the oven door I turn the trays to promote even baking. You’ll have to do some calculations in your head for timing each tray or set a second timer for the second tray.
- When the bagels are done baking transfer the sheet pans to cooling racks and cool for about 15 minutes before slicing into them. You can leave the bagels on the pans or transfer them directly to the cooling racks.
- Serve them warm from the oven or slice and freeze for later use.
- Day 1: Mix dough in the evening and bulk ferment over night at room temperature. If you think the dough may ferment faster, which may happen in a warmer climate or is your house is warm, then check the progress before you go to bed and put the dough in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation. Take it out in the morning and let it come to room temperature or finish bulk fermenting if it needs to, before shaping the bagels.
- Day 2: Shape, proof and bake the bagels in the morning.
- Flours: I like to add a bit of rye or whole wheat to this dough for flavor but you can use only bread flour of you like or if you don’t have rye/whole wheat available to use.
- Sweeteners: I prefer honey for this recipe and in breads in general but barley malt syrup is the traditional sweetener used in bagels. You can also use brown rice syrup which has a similar taste and viscosity.
- The use of a disposable roasting pan is not necessary but does help make the crust extra delicious!
- Bulk fermentation may be faster or longer depending on the climate and temperature. Follow 8 hours as a guide but check its progress periodically. If you’re bulk fermenting the dough overnight and are worried it might over-proof before you get to it in the morning then you can always pop it in the fridge before bed to slow the fermentation. Take it out when you wake up and bring it to room temperature to finish bulk fermenting.