[Sourdough] Cheesy Kale & Everything Bagels

[Sourdough] Cheesy Kale & Everything Bagels

My latest sourdough specialty is the almighty BAGEL. The technique that makes this bread so classically dense and chewy is a dunk in boiling water before baking. When the dough is boiled, its exterior undergoes starch gelatinization – granules of starch absorb water, they swell, and their tightly packed chains of molecules start to dissolve. This process gives the crust its chewy texture, and because the cooked crust restricts the bagel from continuing to rise/expand when baking, it’s also responsible for the interior’s dense crumb. Baking soda added to the water accelerates the Maillard reaction via increased alkalinity, promoting more browning during baking.

[Sourdough] Cheesy Kale & Everything Bagels

I’ve only baked my own bagels a handful of times so far, but I like it. I like to stuff them with savory fillings, encrust them with seeds, and toast them to a crisp. Every time I bite into one, I can’t help feeling a little astonished that it came out of my own kitchen!

This recipe includes instructions for a filling of sauteed garlicky greens & cheese (a refresh of this archived recipe due for a revival now that my baking routine revolves around wild yeast) – but anything can be folded into the dough before its final overnight rise. Since bagels are said to benefit from a slow, fridge-temp overnight final proofing, it’s a bonus that we can mix in fresh/non-shelf-stable ingredients without needing to worry about food safety. So go wild! 

Latest batch: fresh sliced jalapenos + sharp cheddar.

[Sourdough] Jalapeno Cheddar & Everything Bagels
[Sourdough] Jalapeno Cheddar & Everything Bagels

To make a similar bagel with storebought yeast instead of sourdough starter, check out this recipe instead.

[Sourdough] Cheesy Kale & Everything Bagels
[Sourdough] Cheesy Kale & Everything Bagels

[Sourdough] Cheesy Kale & Everything Bagels


Bagel Dough:

  • 300 grams sourdough starter recently fed and bubbly
  • 100 grams water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 180 grams bread flour
  • 180 grams whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cheesy Kale Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • kale: 4 large leaves about 6 cups finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed powder
  • 3 oz cheese crumbled or chopped into tiny 1/4 inch cubes

Poaching Liquid:

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda


  • Mix sourdough starter, water, and honey in a large bowl or lidded container, then stir in the flours and salt to form a firm dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed, until the dough feels elastic but quite stiff. Place the dough back into its container and cover loosely with its lid, plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, and allow it to rise in a warm place for approximately 8-12 hours (give or take a few hours, depending on your ambient temperature and other factors) until roughly doubled in size.
  • Prepare cheesy kale filling: in a large skillet over medium heat, saute the chopped kale and garlic in olive oil until the kale wilts and the garlic is fragrant. Add the vinegar and honey, toss to combine, then remove the pan from the heat. After the cooked greens are cool, mix in the mustard seed powder and cheese, then chill the mixture until the dough is finished rising.
  • Gently deflate the dough, move to a floured surface and stretch it into a large rectangle about 1 inch thick. Scatter your filling in an even layer all over the surface of dough. Starting from one edge, roll the dough into a spiral, then tuck each end of the roll under the center, shaping the dough into a round. Knead a few times to more evenly distribute the filling, then divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
  • Continuing to work on your floured surface (and sprinkling more flour as needed), form each piece of dough into a ball, creating gentle surface tension by stretching each of the four sides of the dough down to the bottom of the ball. Then, pierce the center of each ball with your thumb and gently stretch the hole to about a 1.5 inch diameter. Place the shaped bagels onto a floured sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (or up to 24 hours).
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 420 F and prepare a large sheet pan by topping it with parchment paper, and sprinkling it with a layer of any seasonings that will be used to top the bagels. Put water in a large pot over high heat to boil, and when the water has boiled, add the baking soda (be careful, it will foam). Carefully drop each bagel, 2 or 3 at a time, into the water and boil for 1 minute before flipping, then boil on the second side for 1 minute more. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bagels onto the prepared sheet pan, then top with your choice of seasonings. After all bagels are boiled, make sure they all have a chance to dry for 5 minutes before baking to avoid a gummy texture. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until they are brown and sound hollow when tapped.

2 thoughts on “[Sourdough] Cheesy Kale & Everything Bagels”

  1. Those bagels look so good! I didn’t know that about the boiling water – what an interesting reaction. I wonder if it was one of those accidental success stories – someone dropped the dough in the pot, and thought, “Oh, well, I’ll just bake it anyway,” and, voila – bagels.

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