Sourdough, Whole-Wheat, No-Knead Recipe
One goal in my first trip to New York City, organized by My Beloved, this past April, was a breakfast with fresh, real bagels.
In Ess-a-Bagel, we believed we had merely picked a well-ranked shop in Yelp walkable from our hotel, but a couple of weeks later The New York Times compared a new bagel outfit to Ess-a-Bagel, so it must have a sturdy, and large, reputation.
Scheduling didn’t allow a return stop there, so after our return M.B. mail-ordered a dozen for the house. We scarfed a few, gave some away and bagged the rest for our freezer. Meanwhile, I hunted for the right recipe for us, not too many and employing my current preferred baking style.
Makes 4 bagels, about 4.5 oz. each (large but not jumbo)
- 240 g whole wheat flour
- 120 g water, room temperature
- 100 g sourdough starter
- 1/4 teaspoon yeast (optional, see Notes)
- 5 g sugar (1 1/4 teaspoons)
- 6 g salt (1 teaspoon)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
- In large bowl, mix flour, water, starter and sugar with dough whisk, spoon or hand. This will create a stiff dough, on the dry side. Cover and rest 15 minutes (the dough gets the breather, you do as you like!) Meanwhile to refresh, stir into the remaining starter 50 g flour and 50 g water.
- With wet hands, mash in salt and oil to mix thoroughly. Cover bowl and proof 4 hours. Dough will rise but only moderately. Cut parchment paper into 4 squares, about 4 inches across.
- Divide dough into 4, form each into balls. Place each on a parchment square, cover then let them rest 15 minutes.
- With wet hands, slightly flatten each, poke hole with thumb and smooth into bagel shape. The hole should be clearly defined but not gaping; this is not a doughnut. Return each to its parchment square, arrange all on a large plate or small baking pan, not touching, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, 8-12 hours. Dough will rise but only moderately.
- Remove tray of bagels from fridge and allow to warm to room temperature 1-2 hours. Set 1 1/2 quarts water to boil in a medium saucepan, add syrup. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Have tongs ready. With sweetened water at a sturdy rolling boil and using a large slotted spoon or spatula, carefully place 1 or 2 bagels along with their parchment squares, into the bubbling bath. After a few seconds, gently remove squares with tongs and arrange parchments on a medium to large baking sheet/pan. After 30-60 seconds turn the bagels over for another 30-60 seconds. Drain briefly and place on parchment squares. Repeat with remaining bagels.
- Bake bagels 25 minutes. Unlike other breads, can be served warm from the oven. Otherwise, cool thoroughly. Store bagged at room temperature 2 days, refrigerate up to a week or freeze for several months.
- Optional yeast — in general I choose to use what can be called discard sourdough starter. I bake often enough that it’s pretty fresh. If there’s doubt on its robustness then in Step 1 add that little bit of yeast. The proofing in Step 2 then would be somewhat under 4 hours.
- The sugar and olive oil boost both flavor and a good color when toasted. Fully sugar-free and fat-free breads don’t brown much in the toaster, especially whole-grain ones. They still get hot and crunchy, which makes these two ingredients optional for WFPB aficionados.
- As this is a stiff dough, rather than prevent stickiness to hands and board with sprinkles of flour, moisten your hands frequently when handling it.
- Other sugar can be substituted for maple. It creates that bagel-style crust. Barley malt syrup is traditional for bagels, but a jar would last way too long in my pantry. So molasses is a good option, especially as this is whole grain, as would dissolving 1 Tablespoon brown sugar in the water.
- Sure, sprinkle the bagels with rolled oats, sesame seeds or a bagel “everything” spice blend — after boiling and before baking.