Sourdough Bagels

Another round of snap lockdown here in Melbourne called for some more indulgent breakfast options, and bagels were number 1 on the list this time. There’s something so addictive in that chewy boiled crust of theirs. As they are made with a sourdough starter you will need to start prepping them a couple of days in advance, but they seriously do not require much active time, just some rest & ferment time in between, and as with everything sourdough- totally worth it. As with my Cinnamon & Hot Cross Buns‘ recipes, I suggest you start on evening of day 1 (36h before baking), put the dough together in the morning of day 2, shape them in the early afternoon, and then after their final rise just let them rest in the fridge till morning on day 3 when they are ready to be boiled and baked. If you roll them in sesame generously enough they are just amazing with only some butter smeared on them, but you can of course go all in and serve with some smoked salmon, avocado, pickled onion and cream cheese or my new favourite swap for cream cheese – labneh (so easy to make, just scroll down for a quick recipe on how to make it).

Ingredients:

  • 850g high protein flour (I asked my local bakery what they would suggest and bought their one, but surely you can find something similar at a nearby grocer)
  • 470g water
  • 200g levain (100% hydration)
  • 30g coconut sugar (or any other sugar)
  • 30g barley malt or molasses syrup
  • 18g salt

Method:

Day 1, evening:

  1. Feed a tablespoon of your active sourdough starter with 120g flour and 120g water – I used some stone-ground whole-grain spelt flour for this last feeding, but you can stick to the same flour you will be using for the bagels or any other type or mix of flours. This is your levain, leave it on the kitchen counter overnight, as you will use it the next morning.

Day 2, morning:

  1. Mix the flour, water, sugar, molasses or barley malt and levain. You can either do this by hand or let your mixer do its thing for around 5 min on low speed. Let it rest for 30min.
  2. Add the salt and mix for another couple of minutes. Let it rest on your kitchen counter for 1-2 hours for your bulk rise. After 2 hours, give it a strech and fold every 30min for another 2 hours (3-4 h of total rise time after adding salt).
  3. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll them into little balls. As this dough is pretty “dry” you should not have any issues with it sticking to the counter so don’t worry too much about dusting it with flour. Let the balls rest for 15min.
  4. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. I dusted them with semolina slightly, but you can use a tiny bit of flour instead, to make the bagels easier to remove off the paper the next day.
  5. Roll each ball into a 25cm long snake shape. Hold one end of the snake between your index finger and thumb and wrap the other end around your other fingers to create ring that encircles your fingers all the way from your index to your pinkie. Pinch the two ends together so you get a nice bagel shape. The hole will look quite big but it will shrink once placing the bagels on your baking tray.
  6. Place all the shaped bagels on your baking trays, cover with a kitchen towel and let them rise for 2 hours. They will puff up a bit but again, this dough is quite firm and dry so don’t expect them to be all puffy. After 2 hours, gently wrap your trays in cling wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

Day 3, in the morning:

  1. When you’re ready to bake, get your trays out of the fridge. Bring a big pot of water to boil, add 1 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp of molasses or sugar – you will use this to boil your bagels. At the same time, preheat the oven to 240C fan forced. To get the best result, place a tray with boiling water on the bottom of your oven to steam it up and get an even nicer crust.
  2. You can boil 3 bagels at the time for around 45s on each side, then transfer to a rack to drain. Once you’ve boiled them all, you can generously roll all of them in sesame seeds or a mix of other seeds if you wish, or leave them plain. Make sure to place clean baking sheets on your trays for your baking.
  3. Once your oven is nice and hot, place both trays in. Bake for 10min, then remove the water tray if using it, swap the trays around to have the other one on top this time and bake for another 5min. Then lower the temperature to 220C and bake for another 5min.

Labneh:

  • 1kg greek or goat/sheep yoghurt
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • Optional: zest of 1 lemon

Mix the yoghurt and salt together and add the lemon zest if using. You’ll need a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, place it on a sieve and add the yoghurt mix on the cloth. Cover and place in the fridge overnight. Press down if needed, to squeeze out the rest of the whey – you should be left with a cream cheese like spreadable goodness and a glass of whey, which you can use in smoothies, pancakes,…

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