You get that same great sourdough flavor, but in a bagel form! It’s dense, chewy, and has a toothsome crust! Who doesn’t love that in a good bagel, am I right? Get your vegan cream cheese ready to shmear a thick layer over these babies! (Yes, I said SHMEAR!)
Levain (you will not use all of this)
- 80g – active starter, fed (100% hydration)
- 160g – warm filtered water
- 160g – flour (whatever mix you used to feed it)
- 500g – bread flour (I used King Arthur)
- 13g – kosher salt
- 200g – tepid water, around 60° F (15° C)
- 21g – barley malt syrup (sub for maple syrup/brown sugar/molasses)
- Toppings, optional (I used everything bagel seasoning)
- 10 cups – water
- 1 tablespoon – baking soda
- 1 tablespoon – barley malt syrup (sub for brown sugar/molasses)
- Stand mixer
- Cookie sheet
- Parchment paper
- Cooling rack
- Large dutch oven or large soup pot
- Slotted spoon
- Plate or bowl
- In the morning, make your levain. In a large jar, mix together 80g fed starter (not directly from the fridge, it has to be fed a couple days prior), 160g warm filtered water, 160g flour (use the flour mix that you use to regularly feed your starter). Let your levain ferment at 78°F/25°C until it has tripled in volume and “peaked”. The total weight will be 400g, but this recipe will require 350g of levain. So this will leave you with some left over to keep your starter going.
- In a cup or small bowl, measure out 200g of cold water (60°F/50°C) and mix in 21g of Barley Malt Syrup. (This syrup is very sticky, so to make it easier to work with mix it in with water.) In a bowl of a stand mixer, mix together 500g bread flour, 13g salt, the water syrup mixture, and 350g of levain. Using the dough hook attachment start by combining all the ingredients together on the lowest/stir setting for 1 minute. Increase to speed to 2 and let it knead for 15 minutes. Since this is a stiff dough, we want to knead the dough long and slow. It will also make your mixer work hard, so keep a close eye on it.
- When your dough is done kneading, you’ll notice it will be slightly sticky and have an elastic texture, but “dry” enough that it shouldn’t stick to your hands. Place dough on a work surface (you do not need to flour your work surface) and shape it into a taut ball, place it back into the bowl and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, place the dough onto a work surface. Divide the dough by weighing it into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece of dough into taut balls. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest again for 20 minutes. While you wait, cut out 8 large squares of parchment paper, and prep a baking tray. Set aside.
- After resting for 20 minutes, it’s time to shape the dough balls into a bagel. Here are two ways (You can refer to the videos I’ve provided in the body of the blog to get a visual idea):
Option 1, twist method*:
Roll out your dough into a 14-inch rope. Wrap the dough around your hand. Roll the dough on a work surface to seal it together. Pinch it together so the ends do not unravel.
*This is what I call the semi-traditional method. The traditional method requires a few more steps, but I find that this method gives the bagels a slightly chewy texture which I like!
Option 2, Punch method*:
Take one of your dough balls and poke your finger through the center. From there use both your index fingers to rotate in a circle, gently stretching out the dough.
*This is the modern/easier method.
Whatever method you choose, try to make the hole bigger than normal. As these bagels proof, the holes will shrink. Place each bagel on one square of parchment paper and place it on the baking tray. Do this for the rest of the bagels.
- Cover with a slightly damp cloth and allow the bagels to proof at 80°F/26°C for 2-3 hours. Unlike yeasted dough, these will not rise or double in size. Instead they will look puffy and the bagel holes should have slightly shrunk about 40%. The best way to tell is to take a before and after photo.
- Once your bagels are done proofing, place the entire baking tray with the damp cloth covering the bagels, into the fridge for an overnight cold fermentation about 15-18 hours. (I left my bagels to ferment in the fridge for about 16 hours.)
- The next morning, preheat the oven to 450°F/218°C and boil water in a large deep pot/dutch oven (leave enough space at the top, when you add the baking soda it will foam up and might overflow) While you wait, do a float test with one of your bagels. Fill a bowl halfway with room temp water and take one bagel and place it on top of the water, if it floats it is ready to boil, if not continue to proof in the fridge for an hour or two. Also set up a cooling rack to the side of your stove and place either another baking tray or kitchen towel underneath. Prep a plate or bowl with your toppings of choice.
- When the water is ready and boiling, prep the poaching liquid by mixing in the barley malt syrup and baking soda. Stir until the foam from the baking soda has reduced. Working in batches, add the bagels to the poaching liquid, parchment side up and with tongs or tweezers to gently peel it off. Boil each side for 1 minute and transfer to a cooling rack. While they are still wet, coat your bagels with your toppings. Repeat for the rest of the bagels. Some bagels might sink at first, but don’t worry they will float to the top in a few seconds.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper, place your bagels on top, and place them in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until you get a nice dark golden brown color. If you have toppings on your bagels, and you notice that they are getting very toasty, carefully place a piece of aluminum foil over top. This will prevent the toppings from getting burnt while you continue to bake the bagels (it will not affect the end product of bagels in any way).
- Remove the bagels from the oven and allow them to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Now you can serve and enjoy! These will last in a tightly sealed bag for a few days. To keep them fresh, once they are fully cooled you can bag these up and place them in the freezer. They will keep in the freezer for weeks. Microwave for a couple of seconds and toast when you are ready to serve.
- Use a food scale. This recipe is strictly using a food scale to measure out the ingredients. It’s way more accurate than using measuring cups and spoons. Unfortunately, I won’t be adding cup conversion.
- Make sure your starter is active! My starter is usually in the fridge, so I like to feed my starter twice a day for 2 days before I start to use it to bake.
- Wait to use your levain until it has tripled in volume and “peaked”. Mine usually takes around 5-6 hours, but this will depend on the strength of your starter, climate, etc. So just pay close attention to how your levain behaves.
- Use a stand mixer. Unfortunately this dough is quite stiff and it will be quite difficult to knead by hand.
- Pay attention to your weather/climate. The way your levain behaves and the proofing times will really depend on where you live. If you are living in a cooler climate or if it’s winter, I suggest using a cold oven with just the light on to help your levain activate and help proof your bagels. If you live in a warmer climate, or if it’s summer, you might need less time activating your levain and less time proofing your bagels.
- Put a sign on your oven! If you’re using your oven to activate your levain and to proof your bagels, PUT A SIGN ON YOUR OVEN! Let the people you live with know that you have something in the oven! They might accidentally turn on the oven without knowing and start baking whatever is in there. This also works if you are forgetful…Which…I admittedly have done. I accidentally killed my levain that I had in there…(DON’T WORRY I DIDN’T KILL MY ACTUAL STARTER).
- Take a before and after photo during the proofing stage. Why? Since these bagels are leavened with natural yeast, they will not double in size as they proof. Instead, they look puffier or fuller, and it might not look noticeably different to the naked eye, so I highly suggest taking a before shot at the beginning stage of when the bagels proof, and after for the end of the proofing stage. The holes of the bagels should have shrunk a little bit, and you should notice the difference in the photo.
- Float test. Before you start boiling your bagels, take one bagel and see if it floats in a bowl of room temp water. If it floats, it is ready to boil and bake. If not, allow it to proof for a couple more hours.
- Use an aluminum foil tent if you have toppings. Baking with toppings could cause it to get toasty and even burnt. To prevent this, halfway during the baking process, place a piece of aluminum foil over top. This doesn’t affect the way the bagels are baked.
Keywords: sourdough, sourdough recipe, bagels, vegan