Sourdough Sesame Bagels

This dough is a semi-sourdough, meaning it contains a very small amount of commercial yeast alongside the starter to boost its leavening power. You’ll notice that the mixed dough is very stiff, hence giving it a dense chewy texture that bagels typically have. The poaching step right before baking them in the oven also makes them chewier and gives them a sheen golden crust.

Makes 4 bagels.
Recipe from E5 Bakehouse, London

For the 100% Wheat Levain*:
10g mature starter (100% hydration)
50g water, at 85°F (30°C)
50g whole wheat flour

*Levain is an offshoot of your starter that eventually gets made into bread. We use a pre-fermented dough here to add more flavor to the bagels.

Mix the above ingredients and loosely cover for 8-12 hours at room temperature. The levain should rise, double in volume and smell nice and sour.

Final Dough:
60g wheat levain (mixture above)
135g water, at 89°F (32°C)
1 gram dry yeast (or 2 grams fresh yeast)
270g strong white flour (bread flour)
12g granulated sugar
5g salt
Total weight = 484g
Toppings: Sesame, poppy seed, coarse sea salt

In a medium bowl, dissolve the dry yeast and levain in the warm water. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt then add to the wet ingredients. Mix everything into a smooth dough with no dry patches.
Cover the dough with a damp towel and bulk ferment for 2.5 hours, aiming to complete three stretch and sequences – every 45 minutes – during that time. To stretch and fold the dough take a wet hand and scoop under the dough lifting it up, gently stretching until you feel some resistance then fold it over itself across the center point. You do this at the north, east, south, and west points on the dough. This is one set of stretch and folds.

When the dough is ready to cut, turn out onto the table and divide it into 4 equal pieces (you can weigh them here to make sure they’re the same size). Knockback each piece and tightly roll into a short strip: using the palm of your hand, roll the middle of the strip by applying pressure. Then use both palms of your hands to roll outwards from the center until you have a tube around 10″ (25cm) long. Wrap the tube around your hand, overlapping the ends across your palm. Make a fist to seal the ends, then roll on the table to strengthen the joint.

Place onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper, cover with a slightly damp tea towel and prove for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up a bit. If you’re doing this in the evening, you could refrigerate the dough overnight. If not, preheat the oven to the highest temperature 500°F (260°C) and bring a large of water to a boil (while the bagels are proving for 30 minutes).

When ready, add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to the water and poach the bagels for 30 seconds on each side then place back onto the parchment. Add any toppings you like here such as sesame and Maldon sea salt (as pictured above).

Bake immediately: they should take between 15-20 minutes to turn golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

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