Always remember that yeast was "invented" so we could actually hold it in our hands in the mid 1800s. Yet, we have been baking for about 10,000 years (give or take a few). So, before 1850 and, really before the second world war, all bread was made with a sourdough culture. Variously called the "mother", the "culture", the "starter" or named "Harriet" or "Douglas" by affectionate owners, sourdough cultures are the "fourth form of yeast". In fact, they are yeast - albeit yeast that is trapped in a living paste of flour and water. So, when people say, "can I make sourdough bagels (or pizza or hot cross buns)?" the answer is - of course you can! This simple recipe for delicious sourdough bagels will be published in the UK edition of Homemade Sourdough which is going to be published very soon!
Sourdough bagels (New York Style)
70 g wheat sourdough starter from the vat in the fridge
570 g whole wheat flour
180 g water
to decorate: one beaten egg and poppy seeds
Makes 10 bagels
Measure the sourdough starter into a large bowl and return any remaining starter to the refrigerator. Add 70 g of the whole wheat flour and 70 g of the water. Stir and cover with plastic wrap, and leave on the counter for around 8 hours.
Add the remaining ingredients and knead well for 10 minutes. Cover the bowl with a shower hat and leave on the counter for 4 hours. Scrape the dough out on to a floury surface and divide it into 10 pieces.
Shape each piece into a tight ball. Flour them and cover them with plastic and let them rest for 30 minutes.
Pick up each ball and pinch it with your thumb and first finger through the middle. Gently widen the hole with both hands and lay the dough down on a baking tray that is lined with a heavily floured tea towel.
Flour the tops, cover them with plastic and let them rest for 2-3 hours or until they pass the probe test.
Pre heat the oven to 220 degrees celsius and bring a big saucepan of water to a gentle boil. Put the bagels in the water (as many as comfortably fit) and simmer them for 20 seconds or so. Remove them with a slotted spoon, drain them as best you can and place them on a baking tray that you have lined with non stick baking parchment. Brush on the beaten egg and sprinkle poppy seeds on top.Bake them for 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
Want to know the difference between a new york, montreal, or lebanese bagel? Come and take the bagel class! Desperate to know more about sourdough and perfect your skills? Come and take the all day sourdough class. For all your bread baking needs and questions - for beginners and experienced bakers alike, we look forward to welcoming you on one of our classes!