Monday, January 31, 2011

Sourdough Bagels

If you've been following this blog you know I am baking a lot with sourdough now, as I talked about it in this post and why.  I am actually keeping two sourdough starters right now: both a whole wheat and a white flour one.  The white flour one I made to give to someone who works for us and was asking me how to make this "bread without yeast" that I make all the time.  She never took her starter home, but I have maintained it & use it for two reasons.

One: my kids, especially the Rwandan ones, are not huge fans of whole wheat (ok, the Rwandan kids don't like it at all- it's not used here).  So, I usually go half & half with whole wheat and white flour in my baking, just to compromise.  I need the white flour starter to do this when I make sourdough pancakes & also because of reason number Two: whole wheat flour is not sold in stores here.  I get mine (lucky for me) from a friend who gets it directly from the flour mill in bulk.  But sometimes I run out before I can get more from her.

You will notice in the picture that these bagels are all white flour- this is one of those weeks when I was completely out of whole wheat flour for several days.  Oh, how my kids loved having all white bread, but that's over now, I've got my whole wheat flour again- ha!

Back to the bagels- bagels really are easy to make- just as easy as bread, with only one extra step and that is to boil them before you bake them.  Simple & yummy!  The depth of "sourness" in these will depend on how long you let the dough rest.  The minimum of 6 hours will not be near as sour as say the 10 or so hours mine had.  Mine had a defnite "San Francisco sourdough" twang to them.  We had ours with fried eggs for breakfast, sandwich style.  Yum!

I cruised the internet quite a bit looking for a bagel recipe which did not require me to measure flour in grams & such, and finally found this recipe archived at a cute blog called WillowTreeCreek Farm which now has moved to

Sourdough Bagels

1 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup oil (I used olive)
1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups flour
1 egg
optional: spices or seeds for topping
1/8 cup salt for boiling water

In a medium mixing bowl stir together the starter, oil, water, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 cups of flour.  Add more flour if needed to make a smooth, not sticky, dough.  Knead dough for a few minutes.  Place dough back in bowl & cover well.  Allow dough to rest for 6 or more hours (note: my dough did not rise very much, so yours may not either).

Prepare your work area: either dust your counter with flour or lay out a piece of parchment paper.  Divide your dough in half, each half in half again, and each of those in half again.  Now you have 8 equal pieces of dough to shape into bagels.  If you prefer bigger bagels you may want to only make 6.  Roll each piece of dough into a ball.  Poke your finger into the middle & work it around to make the size of hole you want. Set on the flour dusted counter top or parchment paper.  Once all bagels are formed, cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap (or damp towel?) and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 and put water into a large pot to boil.  You may also get out toppings if you're using any.  Once water has come to a rapid boil, add 1/8 cup salt & stir to combine.  Gently drop the bagels into the bowling water, up to 4 at a time if your pot is big enough.  Boil for about 2 minutes and remove to a rack using a slotted spatula (I don't have a rack, so I just placed them on the clean counter).  Repeat with remaining bagels.

In a small bowl whisk an egg.  You can either brush the egg on top of the bagels, or do what I did: pick up the bagel & dip the top half into the egg.  If using toppings, dip your bagels into those.  Place on a baking sheet lined with cornmeal or parchment paper (or a Silpat in my case).  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden in color.


This recipe is a part of Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist
GNOWFGLIN's Tuesday Twister.
Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade


  1. I used to make bagels all the time, but have never tried them using sourdough starter~I can't wait for my starter to be ready to try these!!! Yum!

  2. Awesome! I've been wanting to try sourdough bagels for a while now, thanks for this post!

  3. @Kim & Jill- thanks & I think I need to make some more now too!

  4. I just got a sourdough starter up and going again and I can't wait to try these!!!

  5. I am taking an e-course on sourdough right now and so I have also been doing lots and lots of sourdough baking. I haven't tried bagels yet. I'm bookmarking this. Thanks!

    I came over from Fight Back Friday :)

    The Nourishing Homemaker

  6. My mom had a 12 year old sour dough starter that was soooo wonderful. It went bad recently while she was out of town for a while. ;(
    I really need to figure out how to make a good starter!

  7. @Leah & Lisa- thanks for stopping by!
    @ Healthy Mamma- in my post from October there are links to "Carl's friends" sourdough starter or also the pineapple juice method. A lot of people also get starters from Cultures for Health (see animated banner on the right). Good luck!


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