Sourdough Bagels

We love bagels. We love them. My kids are amazed that I didn’t have my first bagel until college. What can I say?

This is, of course, a sourdough twist on standard bagels. It wasn’t hard to make, requiring little active time. This recipe is a bit of a conglomeration of various sourdough recipes that I read online. All props to those who have gone before me!


  • 200g active 100% hydration starter at its peak
  • 315g cool water
  • 30g agave syrup
  • 750g all-purpose flour (or 400g APF and 350g bread flour)
  • 10g fine salt
  • Semolina or fine cornmeal

Additional Ingredients for Boiling

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

The first afternoon…

  • Whisk together your starter with the water and agave syrup until the starter has dissolved.
  • Add in the flour and salt and mix with a stand mixer and dough hook. Knead on the lowest setting for about 6 minutes. This may make your mixer unhappy because it is a VERY stiff dough. Take breaks as needed. By the end, the dough should be smooth and pliable but firm. If you need to add a couple of extra tablespoons of water, do so, just do it slowly. You can knead this by hand. Get some Icy Hot first.
  • Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. I weighed them because that’s how I roll (get it). They were about 163g each. Shape each piece into a ball then cup the dough in your palm and roll on the countertop. *Do not use flour for this.*
  • Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap and rest another 15 minutes. They will get a tad more soft.
  • Select the dish/pan that you’ll use for proofing. An extra-large cake pan with a lid or cake carrier works well. I didn’t do this and had to make a whole tent system out of thin glasses and plastic. Don’t be a Lorin.
  • Place a sheet of parchment paper in the pan or sheet and sprinkle generously with fine cornmeal or semolina.
  • To shape the bagels, poke a hole with your finger directly through the centre of the dough ball. This works better if you don’t have any length on your fingernails. If you do, use the handle of a wooden spoon. Once you have a small hole through the center, insert your index fingers – one from each side – into the hole and circle them around each other to stretch the hole until it’s about the diameter of a quarter. It’s sort of fun. Do not fret if they are a little imperfect and wrinkled.
  • Place the shaped bagels in your proofing container, leaving ¾-1 inch of space between them to allow for rising. Let them proof in a warm place for 2.5 – 4.5 hours, or until they get puffy. They might take a little less or more time. You can check by taking one bagel and placing it in a bowl of cold water. If it floats, they are done!
  • Once proofed, you could proceed to day 2 instructions if you want less sourdough flavor. Otherwise, cover the pan or put the lid on and refrigerate 12 – 24 hours.

The next morning…

  • Preheat oven to 450°F.
  • Prepare your baking sheet(s) by adding a layer of cornmeal and then a sheet of parchment paper. The cornmeal will absorb some of the heat and prevent your bagels from getting overdone on the bottom before the top is cooked.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add the baking soda and brown sugar.
  • While the oven is heating and the water is getting to a boil, prepare the toppings on plates or in shallow dishes. You can use dried garlic, everything seasoning, sea salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, an egg wash if you are making them for non-vegans, and so on, or just have yours plain!
  • Place the bagels into the boiling water two at a time. Boil for 30-40 seconds on each side.
  1. Remove the boiled bagels with a slotted spatula to allow them to drain.
  2. Once the excess water has drained away, you can dip the top of each bagel into desired seasoning. Then place each bagel on the baking sheet.
  3. Place the baking sheet into the center of the oven and turn it down to 400°F.
  4. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the level of golden that you prefer. Cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.
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