NY Sourdough Bagels

NY Style Sourdough Bagels

If you’d like to make a tough, hard-boiled New Yorker cry on the West Coast, give them one of these bagels with a thick layer of authentic cream cheese schmear and watch them turn into a blubbering mess. I know, quite the boast, but I’ve tested this with real live New Yorkers and it is fun to watch them light up and get teary-eyed reminiscing about their home on the East Coast and the bagels they came to love.

Not the easiest recipe to tackle, but well worth the effort. This is the result of trying several different recipes to achieve the most authentic bagel possible. With no preservatives, chemicals or additives these are not only good tasting but good for you as well. They freeze up really well and can be made as onion or blueberry or whatever you want bagels. As an added bonus, you can use this recipe to make pretzels and pizza dough as well. It just doesn’t get any better than this! So if you are sufficiently enticed, let’s get going!


n 50g Active Sourdough Starter. (100% hydration)

n 5g Ghee or butter melted.

n 150g Warm water

n 250g Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour. (Use a high protein flour.)

n 50g Whole Wheat Flour.

(Substitute whatever percentage of flours if you like. Try some rye flour.)

n 8g Salt

n 12g Barley Malt


  1. Start by adding your starter to the warm water and mix well.
  2. Add the melted Ghee or butter and again, mix well.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix up your blend of flours, the salt, and barley malt.

  4. Add the starter mix to the flour and using your hand like a claw, start mixing everything together. Once you have incorporated all the dry flour with the starter, let it autolyze for twenty minutes.

  5. Turn out onto your board and knead for ten minutes. This is a 46% hydration dough so it will be tough to get it into a nice tight ball of dough. I recommend kneading for a full ten minutes, let it rest for ten minutes and knead again for ten to fifteen minutes. Depending on your particular circumstances, you might have to add one more go but that should be enough to form up a nice tight ball of dough. I rarely get the dough to pass the windowpane test but strive to get it so it stretches a bit before it breaks or when the dough will not spring back when gently pressed.

  6. Once you are happy with the dough, perform a tension pull and place in a proofing basket for two hours. The dough ball may not rise very much at all.

  7. Divide the dough into 4 balls and shape into your preferred bagel style.

  8. Pokey method VS. Rolly method. What would sourdough baking be without each baker having their own way about forming a bagel.

    The Rolly method – The purist would have you roll the dough ball out into a cigar shape about 10” to 12” long, form a circle, overlap the ends and roll to seal the seam where they come together. Roll the dough out and let it rest for a few minutes and roll it out some more to get the desired length. If you do not seal the seam securely, the bagel will fall apart.

    The Pokey method – Take your dough ball and roll it into a flat ball and poke a hole in the middle while stretching it out into a doughnut shape. Gently work it out to your optimal bagel size but don’t stretch it out too much.

Both methods work just fine, but being in California, not New York, I’ll take the easy way and poke my way to some great tasting bagels.

  1. Place the formed bagels onto parchment paper on a baking sheet leaving some room for the bagels to spread out. Brush the tops of the bagels with ghee, butter or olive oil and cover and let rest for about an hour. If you aren’t ready to start the baking process, you can refrigerate overnight.

  2. It’s Go Time!

Put a large pot of water on the stove to start boiling and set your oven to 500F. Add two tablespoons of barley malt once the water is boiling. If you are going to seed the bagels, get a small flat dish and place the seeds ready for the bagels.

  1. Once the water is at a roiling boil, place the bagels in the water flat side down. Don’t crowd them so they can move around a bit. Depending on several circumstances, they should fall to the bottom of the pot and float after less than a minute. Give them a nudge if they don’t float as they might get stuck to the bottom of the pan. If they never float the bagels didn’t rise enough or if they float right away, they rose too much. Adjust your preparation process as needed. Give them a minute and flip the bagels for another minute in the boiling water. Remove and place the rounded topside onto the plate with the seeds. I use tongs with big claws to maneuver the hot bagels.

  2. Remove the bagels from the seed plate and place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, seed side up. Again, don’t crowd them and place them in the oven for about 20 minutes. Yet again, it depends how hot your oven gets so keep an eye on them until you figure out your optimum temperature and timing. Place a small pan of water in the bottom of your oven for some steam which will keep your bagels moist. Bake until they have a deep golden-brown crust. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

There you go!

With a little bit of effort and experimentation, you will produce bagels, unlike anything you can get outside of New York or your local bakery. Try different seed combinations, spices or flours to mix things up. Make blueberry or cinnamon bagels or how about the world’s most popular, the Everything Bagel. Of course, the onion bagel and just a plain bagel are always a staple for any kitchen. I’m looking forward to trying my hand at a pumpernickel bagel just because I can!


We are experiencing an unprecedented situation in our lives because of the Coronavirus COVID-19 disease. We at Sourdoughboy.com hope and pray that all of us can survive this pandemic and come together in the near future to celebrate our diversity and strength as a nation and a grateful people.

If anyone is stuck at home and looking for things to do, email us at: info@sourdoughboy.com and we will send you some dehydrated starter to get you up and running. All you will need to get is some flour and a few baking implements, and with a lot of patience and practice and you will be making the best bread you can eat in a short while.

Keep it Happy, Make it Sour!