Sourdough Wholemeal Bagels

Sourdough Wholemeal Bagels

One of the nicest things about being home in London, as opposed to my student house in Leeds, is that my parents turn the heating on. Those familiar to uni life will be familiar with the phrase ‘Can we just turn the heating on for an hour?’, said in a desperate tone at 6pm whilst you’re wearing leggings, fluffy socks, a thermal top, a jumper and a fleece and sitting under a blanket.

Sourdough Wholemeal Bagels

Yes the luxury of central heating (& properly insulated accommodation) means that at least I’m not getting frostbite as I revise over the holidays. It ALSO means that bread baking – especially sourdough situations – is 100% more easy-breezy. Take these bagels for example, I think I tested them in Leeds about 3 times before getting the method right there. I tested it in London one last time and managed to shorten the process because the dough was taking about half the time to rise. Hooray! I added some commercial yeast as well as sourdough starter because of the rising situation (when I didn’t add yeast, the bagels were super dense) but just a 1/2 tsp is enough.

Sourdough Wholemeal Bagels

If you haven’t made bagels before, it’s a bit of a weird process where you boil the shaped bagel dough before baking them – it helps to acheive that chewy crust and gets the sesame seeds to (partially) stick on… although a lot of them will still fall off in the toaster. If that annoys you, a little glaze of egg wash after the bagels have been boiled and before baking, will help those sesame seeds stick a bit better!

How to make sourdough starter

If you haven’t got a sourdough starter yet, I have a comprehensive guide on starting and maintaining a sourdough starter right here.

Sourdough Wholemeal Bagels

4.34 from 3 votes
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Course: Bread and Yeast Doughs
Servings: 8 bagels



  • 160 g wholemeal strong flour
  • 160 g water
  • 2 tbsp sourdough starter , (100% hydration)
  • * , (alternatively use 350g of 100% sourdough starter which has been fed the night before)


  • 1/2 tsp fast action dried yeast
  • 120 g lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 150 g white strong flour
  • 190 g wholemeal strong flour
  • 1 tsp salt

For the pot:

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • sesame seeds


For the Levain:

  • Mix the flour, water and sourdough in a small bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave for 8-12 hours at room temperature.

For the dough:

  • Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water in a large bowl. Pour the levain into the large bowl along with the sugar, both flours and the salt. Mix to form a rough dough then tip the contents of the bowl out onto a clean worksurface. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, dusting your hands and the dough with flour as needed to stop it sticking to the surface. Pour a little vegetable oil into the large bowl you were using earlier, place the dough into it and turn to coat. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 4 hours.
  • Punch down the dough, divide it into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Poke a hole in the centre of each ball and stretch it into a hoop – you want the hole to be about 2-3cm wide. Place on an oiled baking tray and cover with oiled cling film then leave in the fridge overnight.
  • In the morning, bring a large pot of water to the boil and preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F).
  • Once the water is boiling, stir in the sugar and baking soda and turn the heat down to simmer. Gently lower in a bagel – it’ll sink at first and then float to the surface. Add another bagel to the pot if it’ll fit. Let the bagels simmer in the pot for two minutes then flip and boil for another 2 minutes on the other side.
  • Remove the boiled bagels from the pot using a slotted spoon and place back onto the greased baking tray. Immediately sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Repeat the boiling & sesame seed sprinkling with the rest of the shaped bagels. You can arrange them so they’re almost touching on the baking tray as they won’t really rise in the oven.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes until deep golden. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before slicing in half and eating. They’ll keep in a plastic bag for 2-3 days.
  • (Tip: if you know you won’t eat the bagels within 2 days, slice them and place into a ziplock bag to freeze. You can toast them straight from frozen)
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it went! Mention @izyhossack or tag #topwithcinnamon!

20 thoughts on “Sourdough Wholemeal Bagels”

  1. At my university, we had the opposite problem – they would crank up the heat so high that we’d be wearing shorts and t-shirts in the dorms. I don’t know which is worse!! :O

  2. These look so fresh and yummy! I was just wondering what you spread on the bagel, just yesterday I ordered a smoked salmon bagel which I think had ricotta in it and it was incredibly dry and hard to eat. Do you have any suggestions that would have made it more… Edible?

  3. my respect to you for making sourdough in a student home! I don’t even have an oven in my teensy apartment! My kombucha is very happily growing though 😉 Will try to make these when I’m home for spring break!

  4. I so totally understand the university heating problem – it was always SO cold. Apart from my halls, which were persistently far too hot, at least I wasn’t paying those bills!

    I love making bagels but have never made wholemeal ones or sourdough, definitely time to give it a go!

  5. Ooooh, heating! My place doesn’t have it and my friend has my space heater 🙁 but I love how warm and toasty these bagels sound. Happy new year!

  6. Omgg totally feeling the heat situation. I have lived in the coldest apartments… Once, the wind actually blew open my balcony door and I woke up to a room filled with a foot of snow! Love these bagels, I’ve never tried making them because I live right next to an amazing bagel shop, but I might have to try 🙂

  7. Ah those were the days at uni! Where we’d go to class just to try and get warm, or when youd walk around wrapped in a duvet. I used to bake just to try and warm the house up. These bagels look perfect. I could have eaten a whole batch of these this morning. Loving your photos as always x

  8. thank you for the tips in this recipe, I’ve never made bagels before so had no idea that a dough boilng process is required! Also, good to know about the yeast boost!

  9. Love your recipe. Thank so much. I love cooking very much but I usually cut myself so my friend told me about this protective glove and it worked.

  10. I feel your pain, Trying to get a dough to rise on a cold winter’s day can take an age. I like to stick it in the hot press….the hot water tank can help speed things along.

    Those bagels look awesome by the way!

  11. I don’t kid myself that I’m anywhere near ready to make bagels (I have to master a loaf of bread first!). But this recipe is awesome, and when I do have the guts to undertake it, I’m sure the bagels will be perfect 🙂

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