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  • Writer's pictureEmily Trotochaud

Zach's Sourdough Bagels

Makes 8 sourdough bagels, an overnight recipe

sourdough everything bagels, naturally leavened bagels

I've gotten a lot of requests for this bagel recipe - and given all that is going on in the world, it looks like I'll have time to share it, and you'll have time to bake it! These do call for some unusual ingredients, but once your pantry is stocked with them, you can become a regular bagel baker!

This recipe is from a college friend, Zach, a fellow ceramicist turned avid baker and cook! Thanks for sharing Zach!

Some quick notes about this recipe: I didn't follow it exactly and still had great results! The thing you definitely need if you're looking to truly achieve chewy bagel status is the vital wheat gluten. I didn't have bread flour, so I used AP flour, and gave my dough some extra time in the mixer to get more gluten development. The barley malt syrup is what gives these "bagel flavor" but I've used molasses in a pinch. Finally, I used active instead of instant yeast. Active yeast can be harder to keep alive, so just make sure it is before using it in this recipe! For more info about different types of yeast l would recommend this article.


Zach's Bagels

makes 8 bagels


400g bread flour

50g vital wheat gluten

200g active sourdough starter

12g salt

20g barley malt syrup

275g warm water (85F-105F)

1 tsp instant yeast

Semolina Flour or Coarse Cornmeal for baking sheet

For Boiling Bagels:

1/2 gallon water

1/2 tbsp baking soda

Bagel toppings: everything bagel seasoning, flakey sea salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds

Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add wet ingredients, and knead with the dough hook for 10-15 minutes. I like to start the mixer on low, and gradually increase the speed every 3 minutes or so. Use the window pane test to determine if the dough has adequate structure, and when it passes, cover and let the dough rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours, it might not double in size, but should looked proofed.

Dump dough onto lightly floured table, and divide into eight 120g sections. Pre-shape dough into balls. Working with one section of dough at a time, pull the edges of the dough in towards the center until a ball forms. Drag the ball in a circular motion, seam side up, to tighten the surface. Allow the ball to rest, loosely covered seam side down, and repeat with remaining dough sections and allow pre-shaped balls to rest lightly covered for 20 minutes.

There are two methods for shaping bagels. The easiest is to simply poke a hole in the center and stretch it until its about 2" in diameter. The second method is called the rope method, and while it is great for giving the bagels extra structure, it is definitely more work, and it might make your bagels a little lopsided. I would recommend trying both (4 and 4!) then you'll know which method is best for you.

To shape using the rope method, flatten the pre-shaped dough ball (seam side up) into a disk about 4-5" in diameter. Roll it up, like a burrito, then use your hands to roll the dough log into a rope about 9" long. Holding one end in place, lightly roll the other, creating a twist in dough log. Connect the ends, let them overlap a little, then with fingers inside the bagel hole, lightly roll the bagel over the seam so the two ends connect. Check out this excellent "how bagels are made" video to see how the pros do it.

Dust a baking sheet with cornmeal or coarse semolina flour, and place shaped bagels on it. Loosely cover with plastic, and allow bagels to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes, then place in the fridge and allow them to cold ferment overnight, about 12-16 hours.

The next day preheat your oven to 500F, with a pizza stone or baking steel if you have one. If not, leave an extra baking sheet in your oven. I also like to add a cast iron skillet in during preheating, so I can add ice when I bake the bagels to create steam.

Fill a large pot with at least 1/2 gallon of water, make sure there are a few inches at the top, when the baking soda gets added to the water it will foam.

When the water has reached a rolling boil, add the baking soda and boil the bagels 1-3 at a time (depending on the size of your pot) for 30 seconds on each side. Let them drain on a rack, or on a bed of cornmeal or semolina flour.

Place boiled bagels on a clean baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper (if using parchment, you'll have to cook at a slightly lower oven temperature, drop it to 475F when you put them in the oven.) I usually cook mine on a rack but am considering changing this method. You can also cook them directly on your pizza stone, if you're comfortable using a pizza peel to slide them into the oven.

Sprinkle bagels with your topping of choice, and place baking sheet (if using) directly onto the pizza stone or the baking sheet waiting in the oven. Optional: Toss a few ice cubes into the hot cast iron skillet and close the oven, trapping the steam. Drop the oven temperature to 475F and bake for 7 minutes, then rotate and cook an additional 7-10 minutes until bagels are golden brown.

Remove bagels and allow them to cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Fresh bagels don't need to be toasted, and are great nice and warm from the oven with your spread of choice. Bagels are best eaten day of, but are pretty great on day two, especially if you toast them.


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