Combining sourdough tanginess with bagel chewiness, these sourdough bagels are a step above other homemade bagels. Toasted or warmed, they're great for breakfast and a great way to use sourdough starter discard!Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Prepare the Dough: For best results, measure out your ingredients with a kitchen scale. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, combine the flour, sourdough starter discard, brown sugar, yeast, and salt.
Pour in ¾ cup (170 grams) of warm water. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes, then knead for 4 to 5 minutes. Add in additional flour or water in one tablespoon increments to get the dough to the right texture.
Lightly grease a large bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes or until double in size. The inside of the oven with just the light on works well.
Alternatively, prepare the bagel dough as directed. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, leave on the counter for about 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to rise overnight. This slow rise allows the bagels to develop more flavor. In the morning, allow the dough to come to room temperature for an hour on the counter before continuing with shaping. I don't recommend allowing shaped bagels to rise overnight as they may puff up too much in the refrigerator.
Shape the Bagels: Line two half sheet baking pans with a Silpat Silicone mat or parchment paper. Punch down the dough to release any air bubbles.
Optional: If you want to store the dough for future baking, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, then in a layer of aluminum foil. Store the dough in an airtight bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you're ready to proceed with baking, thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator, then punch it down again to release any air bubbles. Continue on to the next step.
Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, then shape each piece into a ball. Press your index finger through the center of each ball to make a hole about 1½ to 2 inches in diameter. Loosely cover the shaped bagels with a kitchen towel and rest for a few minutes as you prepare the water bath.
Preheat the oven to 425 °F.
Prepare the Water Bath: Fill a 4- to 8-quart stock pot with 2 quarts of water and whisk in the honey. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high. Drop the bagels in, 2 to 4 at a time, making sure they have enough room to float around. Cook the bagels for 1 minute on each side (2 minutes per side if you want a chewier bagel). Remove from pot and drain slightly. This step pre-cooks the dough, giving the bagel its characteristic chewiness.
When the bagels are cool enough to handle, gently reshape them if needed. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash on top and around the sides of each bagel. Dip the bagel in any toppings, if desired. Place 4 bagels onto each lined baking pan.
Bake the Bagels: Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. You want the bagels to be a dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow bagels to cool on the baking sheets for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store leftover bagels in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days. Refrigerating them isn't recommended because they can dry out. You can also store the bagels in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then warm to your liking.
The amount of flour or water in your dough will depend on the humidity of your kitchen and the hydration of your starter. As you mix your dough, you might need to add more flour or water in one tablespoon increments to get the dough to the right consistency.Using fed sourdough starter can give you a better rise (depending on how vigorous your starter is), but using unfed sourdough starter discard works just fine. If you do use fed starter (and it's active and bubbly), you can omit the yeast, but the rising times can be longer.If you're using Active Dry yeast, you might want to sprinkle yeast on to the warmed water with a teaspoon of sugar and allow it to sit for a few minutes before proceeding with the recipe. Letting it foam "proves" the yeast is active and ready to go to work.Variations: You can enhance plain sourdough bagels by adding mix-ins (like cinnamon and raisins) while creating the dough. You can also top the bagels by rolling or dunking them into a topping after brushing them with the egg wash before baking. Here are some ideas for different bagel flavors to get you started:
Cheese Bagels (Asiago, Cheddar, etc): Fold in ½ cup of shredded cheese to the dough ingredients right after kneading (like I do when making Sourdough Jalapeño Chedder Bread). Sprinkle the shaped bagels with extra shredded cheese after the egg wash
Cinnamon Raisin bagels: Add 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the bagel ingredients when making the dough. Fold in ½ cup raisins to the dough after kneading
Whole wheat bagels: Replace half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour when making the dough