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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:49 pm    Post subject: Sourdough Bagels Reply with quote

My recipe was originally based on that in Nancy Silvertonís Breads from the La Brea Bakery:
If you bake with sourdough, you should have this book. And if you havenít baked with sourdough, why not raise a starter and dive in?

The dough is very stiff, so if youíre not sure what your mixer can do, I suggest halving the recipe the first time around. I know some people mix bagels by hand, but I havenít spent enough time at the gym to get my delts in sufficient shape for that. If youíre a bodybuilder, though, go nuts. Remember that youíll need to adjust the water temperature upward to compensate for the lower amount of friction you get with hand mixing. And if you use a mixer, be aware that the stiffness of the dough means the mixing friction is higher than for most breads, which is why I use ice water to end up with the dough at the right temperature.

Did I mention that these are really chewy? If you like a less dense bagel, feel free to increase the amount of water.

This recipe contains only white flour. Iíve got it on my list to experiment with making a portion of it rye or whole wheat, and adding other ingredients to the dough (Iím a sucker for Noahís cracked peppercorn-potato). Even with this plain dough, the flavor can be varied by using a variety of seeds to top the bagels. I like a mixture of two parts each black and white sesame seeds, one part each anise and fennel seeds, and a pinch of coarse salt.

High-gluten flour (about 14% protein) can be ordered from here:
If you do not have it, you can substitute 675 g of your regular bread flour plus 18 g of vital wheat gluten, available in most natural food stores.

Non-diastatic malt powder is also available here:
or you can substitute a tablespoon of barley malt syrup, sold in natural foods stores and some supermarkets. Malt is the key to that bagel-y flavor that I love.

Cornmeal can be used in place of the semolina for dusting the parchment, but semolina is finer and interferes less with the texture of the bagels. Brush it off the bottom of the bagels before boiling to avoid getting the water too gritty.

Sixteen bagels require two cookie sheets. If you bake them at the same time, you may need to rotate the sheets halfway through to ensure even browning. If you bake them separately, keep the second batch in the fridge and start boiling them when first ones have about 10 minutes of baking time left.

These freeze exceptionally well, pre-sliced and individually wrapped.

Sourdough Bagels

Yield: 16 bagels, 85 grams each


Mix: 10 minutes

Rest: 10 minutes

Divide/shape: 20 minutes

Refrigerate: 8 Ė 12 hours

Boil: 20 minutes (includes heating the water)

Bake: 20 minutes

Desired dough temperature: 78F
NOTE: An instant-read thermometer is a good investment:


693 g high-gluten flour

304 g ripe 100%-hydration sourdough starter

308 g ice water

2.5 g (7/8 t.) instant yeast

13.5 g (2 1/4 t.) salt

18 g (1 T.) sugar

15 g (4 1/3 t.) non-diastatic malt powder

47 g milk powder

Seeds for topping (optional)

Semolina flour for dusting

1 T. baking soda for boiling


Combine the flour, starter, water, yeast, salt, sugar, malt, and milk powder in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed to combine.

Mix on medium-low speed until the dough is very smooth and strong, almost rubbery, about 7 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto an unfloured counter and work a few turns by hand. Form the dough into a smooth ball; the surface should feel satiny and tight.

Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into 16 pieces of about 85 g each. Form each piece into a light ball, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and dust them with semolina.

To shape each bagel, roll the dough into a cylinder about 8 Ė 10 inches long without tapering the ends. Wrap the cylinder around your hand, with the ends overlapping by about two inches in your palm. Roll your palm on the (still unfloured) counter to smash the ends together. (Note: if the dough is a little dry, give it a quick spritz of water with a fine spray bottle before shaping. This helps it roll more easily, and the ends stick to each other.)

Place the bagels on the prepared cookie sheets, slip into a large food-grade plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 450F.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Do not remove the bagels from the refrigerator until you are ready to boil them. Add the baking soda to the water once it is boiling.

Meanwhile, place a cooling rack on the counter with a dishtowel underneath it, and place the topping seeds, if using any, on a small plate in a shallow layer.

Drop the bagels, three or four at a time, into the vigorously boiling water for 20 seconds. They may or may not float right away, but they should float by the time the 20 seconds are up. If they float right away so the tops are not submerged initially, flip them over about halfway through the boil.

Remove the bagels from the water to the cooling rack with a slotted spatula. Let them drain for about 30 seconds before pressing them, top down, into the seeds and replacing them back onto the semolina-dusted, parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Turn the oven down to 400F once the bagels are in. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

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Location: Utah

PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Raising a starter seems to be something that is perceived as mysterious, complicated, or hard. But in my experience, itís not; it just requires attention and patience.

I did this a couple of times, once with rye and once with whole wheat flour. Both worked, but the rye worked better, so thatís the one Iím summarizing. (Note: this ends up as a white starter. The rye is just in the beginning, to get things going.)

Ready to try it?

Sourdough Starter from Scratch


White flour (bread or all-purpose), preferably one that contains malted barley flour. Most white flours do, but some do not, especially if they are organic. Check the label.

Rye flour.

Water. I use bottled (not distilled) water because I donít want the chlorine in tap water, and I do want the minerals that are removed by my water softener. If your tap water is not softened, you could let some sit out for a few hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate. All the water should be at about 85F; the yeast you want to nurture likes warmish water. I heat a small amount of water in the microwave and mix it with room temperature water, checking it with an instant-read thermometer. If you donít have one, the water should feel about neutral to the touch.


A 1-quart or larger container with a lid, preferably transparent and with straight vertical sides (this makes it easier to gauge the activity of the culture).

A kitchen scale. If you donít have one, get one. In the meantime, Iíll give the approximate volume measurements. But just this once; really, weigh your ingredients! (I never said I wasnít opinionated.)

An instant-read thermometer is useful for checking water temperature.

A rubber spatula or plastic dough scraper.

Transparent tape.

A way to heat water.

A warm(ish) place, preferably around 80F. The room I used fluctuated from low 70ís to mid 80ís. A room thermometer is helpful.

General process:

The stuff youíre growing is a ďcultureĒ before it is mature and stable enough to bake with, at which point it becomes a ďstarter.Ē

The volume measurements Iíve given do not corresponding exactly to the weight measurements, but the proportions are the same. Donít mix weight and volume measurements.

You will initially leave the culture alone for 24 hours, after which you will ďfeedĒ it at 12-hour intervals; choose your starting time accordingly. I arbitrarily assume youíre starting in the morning.

Feeding involves removing and discarding a portion of the culture, and adding water and flour to what remains: first mix the culture and water together thoroughly, then add the flour and mix until thoroughly blended.

Before you begin, itís helpful to mark the weight of the container on the bottom with a Sharpie, or note it elsewhere. Then when itís time to discard some of the culture, you can just keep taking some out and weighing the container until you know that the remaining culture is the right amount. I do not wash my container between every feeding.

Contrary to a somewhat popular belief, it is OK to use a stainless steel spoon for mixing.

After mixing, use a spatula or dough scraper to squeegee the sides of the container so theyíre nice and clean. This helps you see how much the culture has risen, and keeps things tidy.

When youíre done mixing, smooth the top of the culture flat as much as possible. Place a piece of tape running straight up the outside of the container, and mark the level of the culture. This is how you will know how much it has risen.

Replace the container lid when youíre done mixing. If itís a screw on lid or mason-jar type, you may want to leave it a little loose to give accumulated gas an escape route. If it is a plastic snap-on lid, you can snap it tight; the lid will pop off if the pressure inside gets too high.

Day 1 (Morning):

Make sure your container is clean, well-rinsed, and dry.

Mix 100 g water, 50 g rye flour, and 50 g white flour (or 1/2 c. water and 3/8 c. of each flour.)

Leave the culture in its warm spot for 24 hours.

Day 2 (Morning):

Hopefully you will see signs of life. Has the culture risen a little? Are there any bubbles in it, even one or two? (These are sometimes best seen by picking it up and looking at it through the bottom of the container.)

Pyrex containers amd cookware are all great for this:

It is possible that you will see a large rise (50% or more) at this point. Donít be fooled; this does not mean youíve birthed a miracle baby. In the initial stages of a culture, a type of bacteria called leuconostoc may predominate; it produces a lot of gas and causes the rapid rise. This bacteria is not desirable, but not harmful either, and it will eventually die out as the beneficial critters settle in and the culture becomes more acidic. You may also notice that the culture has a rather unpleasant odor; donít worry, this too shall pass.

(If you see absolutely no sign of life whatsoever, I suggest leaving it alone for another 12 hours before proceeding. If there is still nothing, why not forge ahead anyway and see what happens?)

Discard all but 75 g of the culture. Feed this with 75 g water, 25 g rye flour, and 50 g white flour (1/3 c. starter, 1/3 c. water, 5 teaspoons rye flour, and 1/3 c. white flour).

Set it back in its warm spot for 12 hours.

Day 2 (Evening):

You may see signs of activity, but the culture may be either more or less lively than what you saw this morning. Anything from a single bubble to a 100% rise is good.

Again, feed 75 g of culture with 75 g water, 25 g rye flour, and 50 g white flour, and return it to the warm spot.

Day 3 (Morning):

Your culture may appear dead, but itís probably not. Donít worry, just go ahead and feed as before.

Day 3 (Evening) and every 12 hours thereafter:

Continue to feed as youíve been doing. At some point things should pick up steam, and you will notice that the culture gets a little more vigorous with each feeding.

When the culture at least doubles itself in 12 hours and is looking nice and bubbly, start feeding with only white flour (75 g culture / 75 g water / 75 g flour). This happened for me around the end of Day 4.

After about 5 Ė 7 days, hopefully you will observe that the culture can double itself in 8 hours or less, smells pleasantly sour, and is full of bubbles. Congratulations, you have raised a 100% hydration starter thatís ready to bake with!

At this point you can also start decreasing the amount of culture in relation to the feeding flour and water, and use room-temperature instead of 85-degree water. You have been mixing 1:1:1 culture:water:flour at each feeding. Now try 1:2:2 and see if the starter can still double in 8 hours or less.
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