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Super Soft and Chewy Sourdough Bagels

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It’s hard to believe that during my 18-year sourdough journey I had never made a real boiled and baked sourdough bagel.  

Long Pinterest collage image showing baskets of sourdough bagels with text.

I’ll be the first to admit I was always a little intimidated, knowing that the bagels needed special shaping, boiling, and baking. My intimidation was unfounded. The process is so much easier than I expected, and once I started playing around with developing this recipe I realized just exactly what I had been missing out on all these years!

Basket of soft and chewy sourdough bagels.

Soft and Chewy Sourdough Bagels

I want to start this post by making it clear that my intention was not to develop a dense and doughy bagel, but instead a soft, light, and fluffy bagel, with the classic chewy texture of sourdough.

If you are looking for a dense and doughy bagel this might not be the recipe for you. Yes, I know that many people prefer a dense bagel, I’m just not one of them. I like the versatility of a softer bagel that can be sliced, toasted, cream cheesed, buttered, used as a bun, as a sandwich, with toppings, without … not to mention I just can’t keep my sourdough starter down. The puff and rise on this recipe is exceptional!

These sourdough bagels come out as soft and lofty as pillowy clouds with a shiny chewy exterior that becomes delightfully crisp when toasted. 

Basket of soft and chewy sourdough bagels.

Topping Your Sourdough Bagels

My personal favorite is probably the toasty sesame seeds, but I’ve also made onion, plain, yuzu, everything, salt, cheese-stuffed, and even bagel dogs! Some of the more technical recipes like cheese-stuffed, bagel dogs, blueberry, and cinnamon raisin I hope to publish in the future!

Basket of soft and chewy sourdough bagels.

Basket of soft and chewy sourdough bagels.

Super Soft and Chewy Sourdough Bagels

Super Soft and Chewy Sourdough Bagels

Yield: 16 Bagels
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 1 hour 30 minutes

A fluffy, super soft, and chewy sourdough bagel. These fully fermented bagels are boiled and baked for the best crust, taste, and texture possible.

Ingredients

  • 1000 grams bread flour 
  • 600 grams water
  • 250 grams sourdough starter
  • 60 grams avocado oil or light olive oil
  • 40 grams honey or coconut sugar
  • 20 grams salt

Boiling Water

  • 2 quarts water
  • 20 grams (1 tablespoon) honey
  • 20 grams (1 heaping tablespoon) baking soda
  • 7 grams (1 teaspoon) salt

Instructions

The Night Before

  1. Using a dough whisk, wooden spoon, or silicone spatula, mix all the bagel ingredients in a large bowl. Once the dough comes together let it rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Do a few rounds of stretch and fold in the bowl, resting the dough for 5 minutes between each round. Once the dough is smooth and stretchy cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it ferment overnight.

The Next Morning

  1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut and weigh the dough into 16 equal pieces, about 120 grams each.
  2. Lay a large sheet of parchment paper off to the side of the work area.
  3. Preshape each piece of dough into a tight ball the same way you would for buns. Set them seam side down on the parchment.
  4. Once all the dough is formed into balls, cover them with a damp flour sack towel and let them rest for 1 hour.

Boiling and Baking the Bagels

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F with two baking racks evenly spaced in the center.
  2. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. I use the half sheet pan size (18 by 13-inch).
  3. Have your desired toppings ready.
  4. In a large pot bring the water and other boiling ingredients to a strong boil. I use my 8-quart stockpot.
  5. Uncover the dough and drop a large pinch of dry flour on the top and center of each dough ball.
  6. Working one at a time, push the thumb of your dominant hand down through the center of the flour and dough until it reaches the paper underneath.
  7. With your thumb against the paper, gently swirl your hand, spinning the dough around your thumb until the hole is fully coated with flour.
  8. Lift the bagel from the paper, and without deflating it, use your other hand to gently stretch the hole to about 2 inches wide. Rotate the dough during stretching to get an even circle.
  9. Gently drop the dough into the boiling water with the top side down first. Cook on the first side for 1 minute. If you can work fast enough, add two to three more bagels to the water. This is also dependent on the size of the pot; the bagels should not be touching.
  10. Use a slotted spoon to flip the bagels starting with the first one in the pot. Cook the bagels on the second side for 1 more minute.
  11. Remove the bagels from the pot, letting excess water drip off them. Slip them onto the parchment-lined baking sheet with a little room around each one.
  12. Once all the bagels from that batch have been removed, top the wet bagels with your favorite toppings, or leave them plain.
  13. Start boiling the next batch of bagels and continue this process until they have all been boiled with toppings added.
  14. Place the bagels in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.
  15. When the timer goes off, rotate the pans and switch their positions in the oven, allowing for even baking.
  16. Bake the bagels for 10 more minutes or until golden brown.
  17. Remove the bagels from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool.

Notes

You can substitute up to 50% whole wheat or heirloom flour in this recipe without a very noticeable change in texture. 100% whole grain will result in a denser bagel and may require 5% (30 grams) more water in the dough.

Pinterest image of a basket of soft and chewy sourdough bagels with text overlay.

Abigail

Tuesday 1st of June 2021

this is such a good recipe, we make it almost every 2 weeks or so. no more store bought! also, is it true sourdough bread has a lower CARB count, since it is fermented? any idea about how much this recipe would be per bagel weighed as you suggest? thank you!

Butter For All

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

Hi Abigail!

Thank you! I'm not 100% sure about how much of a carb reduction there is but I'm sure there is some. You could loosely calculate it by finding out how many carbs are in your specific flour and multiplying by the amount called for in the recipe. Then depending on how fermented your bread is, reduce the carbs by 25% (lightly fermented) to 50% (very sour). At that point divide the number by how many servings you make. This should give you a loose estimate of carb count. There is unfortunately no way to be exact with fermentation.

My very best to you!

Courtney

Bonnie

Saturday 22nd of May 2021

I have made these twice now and they turn out AMAZING! The first time I used 1 cup starter, 6 cups flour, 2.5 cups water, 3 Tbs olive oil, 2 Tbs honey and 1 Tbs salt. Second time I used 1 cup starter, 4 cups flour (plus a bit more for dusting hands and counter) and 2 cups water with the rest of the recipe the same. So good and so easy to follow. Thank you!!

Butter For All

Saturday 22nd of May 2021

Hi Bonnie!

I'm so happy to hear it! Thank you so much for coming back and leaving a review!

Happy Baking!

Courtney

Kirstyn

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

I never comment, but feel I need to so that people make these bagels. I tried multiple recipes from Pinterest and this by far the best bagel recipe. They are chewy and you can taste the sour flavor. I do let mine proof sometimes longer than overnight and they still turn out amazing.

Butter For All

Monday 19th of April 2021

Hi Kirstyn!

I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment! Thank you so much :)

Courtney

Kathie

Thursday 11th of March 2021

I made these today. My starter was puffy & bubbly & had more than doubled in size when I started the bagels. I had not checked the recipe beforehand so did not realize the dough needed to ferment overnight, so I let it sit on the counter for 5 hours & then proceeded. When I made the dough into balls they were light & puffy. When I made the holes in the middle I followed the directions of another recipe & made the holes 2" wide, pulling on the dough over & over again. After they were boiled & baked they were almost completely flat. I was so disappointed. Do you think not fermenting them overnight made the difference or do you think I worked the dough too much? Or both? They sure don't look like yours! They do taste wonderful though, and SOFT, like you promised. The previous batch of bagels from another recipe I made were so hard I could hardly bite into them. I want to get these right & have a beautiful finished product.

Butter For All

Friday 21st of May 2021

Hi Kathie! It sounds like you might have deflated them with the pulling. I'd try again, just making sure to handle them very gently. If you have a fast starter then there is no need to proof overnight, or you can do so in the fridge to slow things down a little bit. But just make sure they do double twice, once during bulk ferment and again after shaping. You'll get the hang of it! It just take a little practice and careful observation of the dough.

Happy baking!

Courtney

Patricia

Saturday 6th of March 2021

Tried the recipe. Like it that the dough was easy to handle and they were nice and poofy. Still hot, hv not tried them yet

Butter For All

Saturday 6th of March 2021

Awesome, Patricia!

I hope you love them!

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