These Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Bagels are the perfect way to start fall! They're slightly sweet (and delicious with sweet toppings like flavored cream cheese), but also work well with savory toppings. And they're a great way to use up some of your sourdough discard!
- Why you'll love this recipe
- Substitutions & Variations
- How to make Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Bagels
- Expert Baking Tips
- What is sourdough discard?
- Can you make this recipe with active sourdough starter?
- Passing the float test
- Making Overnight Bagels
- Common Bagel Challenges
- Recipe FAQ
- Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Bagels
Why you'll love this recipe
- This is an easy recipe packed with pumpkin and Fall flavors.
- They are versatile and you can top these with sweet toppings, like cinnamon cream cheese, or savory toppings!
- They smell incredible as they are baking and are a great fall baking recipe!
- Bagels freeze well, so you can make a batch and save some to enjoy later.
There are only a few key ingredients you'll need to get started with this recipe.
- Bread flour: Using bread flour will help the bagels develop a crusty exterior. In a pinch, all-purpose flour will work, but the bagels won't be as crusty.
- Brown sugar: You'll use a little brown sugar in the dough, and a bit in the water when you boil the bagels.
- Pumpkin pie spice: This gives the bagels some of their classic fall flavor. You can also make your own homemade pumpkin pie spice if you don't have any pre-mixed!
- Instant yeast: Even though we're using sourdough discard, we still need to use a leavening agent (in this case, yeast) to make the dough rise predictably.
- Sourdough discard: The sourdough discard should be unfed and at room temperature for this recipe. This recipe is designed to be made from a sourdough starter with a 1:1:1 ratio (when you feed your starter, it's with 1 part starter, 1 part flour, 1 part water). If your starter uses a different ratio, you may need to adjust some of the ingredients in this recipe.
- Pumpkin purée: You can use store-bought (I like to use Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin), or you can also make Homemade Pumpkin Purée for this recipe!
See full recipe below for detailed directions.
Substitutions & Variations
This is a very adaptable recipe and below are a few easy substitutions and variations you can try.
- Without Eggs - If you're not baking with eggs, you can omit the egg wash completely or brush the bagels with melted butter instead.
- Add Toppings - This recipe doesn't include any toppings on the bagels, but you could easily add some! Sprinkle the bagels with some flaky sea salt or some everything bagel seasoning to make savory bagels. Or omit the egg wash, brush the bagels with melted butter after baking, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar for a sweet option.
I have not tested this recipe with other variations, but if you do, let us know how it turns out in the comments! I always love to hear how you're adapting these recipes and use those as ideas for future recipes as well!
How to make Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Bagels
There are a few easy steps to make these pumpkin bagels!
Combine all dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add the wet ingredients (sourdough discard, pumpkin purée and water) and mix until a shaggy dough forms.
Transfer to a work surface and knead until smooth and soft. The dough should not be sticky. If needed, add more water or flour (1 Tablespoon at a time) to reach your desired consistency.
Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Turn the dough onto a work surface and divide into 8-10 equal-sized pieces (this doesn't have to be exact). 8 pieces will make larger bagels; 10 pieces will make smaller bagels.
Using your palm for friction, roll each piece of dough into a ball.
Use your thumb to press and stretch a hole in the center of the dough. Make this hole larger than you think it should be (it will close up a lot during the boiling and baking process).
Cover the shaped bagels with a clean kitchen towel and let rise 20 minutes while you preheat the oven and boil the water.
Boil the bagels in water mixed with 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar. Boil for 20-30 seconds on each side, then drain and place the bagels on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Brush the bagels with egg wash and bake until slightly golden. Let cool before slicing.
Expert Baking Tips
- Make sure to knead the dough long enough. The dough should be smooth and soft, not sticky.
- If needed, add more water or flour (1 Tablespoon at a time) to reach your desired consistency.
- Let the dough rise until doubled in size. If your room is warm, the dough will rise quicker. If your room is cold, the dough will rise slower.
- Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces. 8 pieces will give you large bagels and 10 pieces will give you smaller bagels.
- When shaping the bagels, make the center hole larger than you think it should be. This hole will fill in a lot as the bagels boil, and then bake.
- Pass the float test! Make sure the bagels float in the boiling water. If not, they need a little more time to rise.
What is sourdough discard?
Sourdough discard is what is left over after you feed your sourdough starter. This can either be literally discarded (thrown away or composted), or you can use it in sourdough discard recipes like this one.
The sourdough discard should be unfed and at room temperature for this recipe. Even though we are using sourdough discard, we do need to use a leavening agent (in this case, yeast) to make the dough rise predictably. Don't worry, you'll still taste the sourdough flavor!
Can you make this recipe with active sourdough starter?
Yes, you can! To do so, omit the yeast and use active sourdough starter rather than sourdough discard. You may need to adjust the rise times for the recipe, so keep an eye on the dough as it is rising.
Passing the float test
When you boil the bagels, they should float in the water (this is called "passing the float test"). This may mean that they float immediately, or they might sink to the bottom, then rise to the top to float after a few seconds. Either way, this counts as floating!
- If your bagels float: Congratulations! Continue the recipe as written and you'll have delicious, light bagels.
- If your bagels do not float: If your bagels sink to the bottom and stay there, often they need a little more rise time. Cover the unboiled bagels with a kitchen towel and let rest for an additional 10 minutes, then try again.
Making Overnight Bagels
If you want to let these Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Bagels rise overnight to bake and eat fresh in the morning, you can!
To do so, let the dough complete the first rise (in the bowl) in the fridge overnight. In the morning, remove the dough from the fridge, let it come to room temperature, and shape into the bagels. Continue with the recipe as written.
Common Bagel Challenges
There are a few challenges that come up when making bagels. Below is information on how to avoid or fix these!
- Bagel dough is sticky: If your dough feels sticky as you're kneading, add 1 Tablespoon of flour at a time until you reach your desired consistency. The dough should be smooth, soft and not sticky before the first rise.
- Bagels that don't float: If your bagels aren't floating, they often need some more rise time. Cover the unboiled dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes, then try again.
- Bagels that look shaggy: If your finished bagels look shaggy and not smooth, this means the dough wasn't kneaded for long enough. The dough should be smooth and not sticky before the first rise.
- Bagels with a closed hole: If the bagel hole has closed up, they'll still be delicious! This often means that you didn't stretch the hole to be large enough to accommodate the rising that happens during boiling and baking. This is also more common with larger bagels.
- Bagels sticking to the parchment paper: This often means the bagels were too wet. Make sure to let the water drip off the bagels after boiling before transferring to the baking sheet. If that's not it, there may be too much water content in the dough (if your dough was sticky when kneading).
I like to make the dough in a KitchenAid 5-Quart Stand Mixer, but this is optional! You can also mix the dough in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, then knead by hand.
Room Temperature Storage: Once cooled, store the bagels in a sealed plastic bag at room temperature for up to three days. Reheat the bagels in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make them warm and soft again.
Freezer Storage: Once fully cooled, you can also freeze these bagels in a freezer-safe plastic bag or container for up to 3 months. I like to freeze them in individual bags, so it's easy to pull out one bagel to eat or reheat. Reheat frozen bagels in the microwave for about 60 seconds until warm and soft again.
No, a stand mixer is optional! You can also mix the dough in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, then knead by hand.
Yes. To do so, omit the yeast and replace the sourdough discard with active sourdough starter. You may also need to adjust the rise times, so keep an eye on the dough as it is rising.
Sourdough discard is not as active as sourdough starter, so you still need to use a leavening agent (in this case, yeast), to make the dough rise predictably. Don't worry, you'll still taste that sourdough flavor!
Sourdough discard is what is leftover after you feed your sourdough starter. If you are looking to get a sourdough starter, you can either make one (this is the recipe I used), buy one, or get one from a friend or neighbor! Sourdough starter and sourdough discard is not something you can just make overnight - it's a project!
Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Bagels
- 3 ¾ cups bread flour
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar divided
- 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 200 grams (about ¾ cup) sourdough discard unfed, at room temperature
- ¾ cup pumpkin purée
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 egg white plus 1 Tablespoon water for egg wash
- Combine flour, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt and instant yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Mix to combine. Add the sourdough discard, pumpkin purée and warm water, mixing until combined. Increase speed to medium and knead for 4-5 minutes until a smooth ball forms*. This will be a fairly sturdy dough and should not be sticky. You may need to add more water or more flour (1 Tablespoon at a time), depending on your sourdough discard, to reach the right dough consistency.
- Transfer the dough to a large, greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Place the dough on a work surface and divide into 8-10 equal pieces. 8 pieces will give you larger bagels; 10 pieces will give you smaller bagels. Roll each piece in your palm to form a smooth ball, then use your thumb to press through the center of each ball, stretching the hole to form your bagel. Stretch this hole to be larger than you think it should be - it shrinks a lot during boiling and baking. Cover the bagels with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 20 minutes while you prepare the next step.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Prepare 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper and set aside. Bring a pot with 2 quarts of water and 2 Tablespoons brown sugar to boil.
- Place your bagels in the boiling water for 20-30 seconds on each side**. The bagels should float (if not, see notes below). You can likely fit 2-3 bagels in the pot at a time, just make sure there is enough room for them to float openly as they will expand. Remove from the boiling water using a slotted spoon, shaking off excess water, and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. If needed, you can reshape the bagels a little after they've cooled.
- Lightly brush the bagels with egg wash, then bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool fully before slicing and serving.