One Hawt Mess: Sourdough Lye Bagels with Sous Vide Souffle’s

posted in: Cooking, Savory | 22


This is a powerhouse post. If you stick around to the end, you’ll walk away with two mind-bending recipes, each containing enough magic sparkle sauce to put a permanent spell on a dishy prince (should that be your aim). You will also learn a lot, but not in a “Charlie Brown versus the Adults” kind of way, more in the “let’s all get together and figure this out while singing Kumbaya”-style.

So first, you remember how it’s Doughvember? If you need a quick catch-up, Doughvember is the month where we join forces to master the art of sourdough. If you want in, either make a starter (use Nicole’s handy instructions!) or revive your starter, and post, tweet or otherwise fling sourdough from the rooftops. If you’re the posse type, @ me on twitter and I’ll add you to the @saltyseattle/doughvember list. We’re using the hashtag #doughvember to aggregate our doughy coterie.

I knew when the idea for Doughvember first came about that I wanted to recreate the trashy-yet-classy American dish known as “egg-in-the-hole” or “eggs-in-a-basket” depending where you live. Me being me, however, I also knew I couldn’t simply plop an egg in a hollowed-out piece of toast and call it breakfast without you calling me on my lack of creativity. So I massaged the concept until out spooged the happiest of happy endings that you see here. It’s a sourdough bagel that has been lye-dipped to improve color and crust texture, then topped with a sous vide soufflé. It is like the lovechild of John Waters and Marilyn Monroe- sexy, dirty, vampy, campy, dewy and a little bit whorish. Let’s just say it’s impossible to eat without having impure thoughts.

The sous vide soufflé is a billowy cloud of water bath-cooked egg whites with a gush of yolk bursting forth from the core. I’ve made this soufflé before and the first question I’m often asked is one of safety, since it’s obvious the yolk is not fully-cooked. This time around I decided to nip those niggling concerns in the bud by using pre-pasteurized eggs from Safest Choice. They’re available at many stores across the U.S. including Whole Foods, Bristol Farms and Uwajimaya, and funnily enough, the patented process by which they pasteurize the eggs is eerily similar to temperature-controlled cooking like sous vide.

The technique for the eggs is deceptively simple- all you do is top a cushion of whipped egg whites with an unbroken yolk, cover it with a bit more white, and then cook it in the water bath for a few minutes. The result, however, is anything but simple. The complex feelings I’ve developed for eggs prepared this way have me contemplating very, very bad things. These bad things involve my tongue, a slick of egg yolk, and a hot mess of tantalizing possibility.

Because this is based on a dish called egg-in-the-hole, I decided to use bread that is naturally void in the center, rather than cut a depression in toast, as is traditional. That left me with either bagels or doughnuts, and egg-drenched doughnuts sound about as appealing as a moustache ride from Hulk Hogan (which is NOT appealing, for the record). For the last month or so, I’ve been tweaking my bagel recipe in order to share it here. The result is a bagel so soft-yet-chewy, so caramelly-yet-pillowy, that I declared my undying devotion from the first bite.

bagels just after the lye boil

I am now firmly-rooted in the belief that bagels and pretzels must be lye-dipped before they are baked. Baking soda is not a strong enough alkaline. Do you see that crust? There is NO WAY you will ever achieve that Nubian brown with baking soda. Even if you don’t care about color, a crusty exterior is one of the hallmarks of a good bagel. Because lye speeds the maillard reaction, it’s possible to attain a good crust in a shorter amount of time. Of course the inside should remain dense but as tender as sandwich bread, and if you have to cook the bagels for too long to develop a good crust, the inside will dry out excessively. The conclusion: don’t skip the lye. You can order it online for a pittance, and a bottle of it will last you years. Unless you make these bagels, in which case a bottle will only last a few weeks because you’ll want to make them every day from now until eternity.

To my mind, sourdough bagels are superior to traditional yeasted bagels because their crumb is chewy yet still soft. Now that I’ve become obsessed with sourdough baking I’m learning that it is more subtle and delicate than baking with standard yeast, which is big, bold and kind of gauche to my wild yeast-obsessed mind. It’s like growing up. Remember how when you were young you liked the New Kids on the Block because they were poppy, shiny and provided an immediate-if-banal sense of gratification? Now that you’re older your tastes have deepened and in your appreciation for the hawtness that is Girl Talk you can’t figure out how you could have hung on every one of Joey Joe’s saccharine, lilting words.

I also like the control you can exert with sourdough. With every batch of bread I make, I know that my yeast is my yeast. I babied it, I fed it, and I nurtured it to its current bubbly, happy state. If making love to your soulmate for the very first time is baking with sourdough, having sex with a vibrator through a glory hole is baking with packaged yeast.

I am pretty sure that if you make both of these recipes to a Tee and smash them together like I did, somebody big time will throw themselves at your feet, suck on your pearly toes, and beg to sweep you off your feet. Hell, you could even make them separately and wind up with George Clooney in your bed. Because everyone knows that food is the way to a man’s coc heart, right?

Sourdough Lye Bagels

Makes 8 bagels

  • 300 grams Italian tipo 00 flour
  • 50 grams French T65 flour OR American organic whole wheat flour
  • 20 grams Vital wheat gluten
  • 30 grams skim milk powder
  • 20grams barley malt syrup
  • 300 grams sourdough starter
  • 115 grams purified cold water
  • 15 grams salt
  • 2 tablespoons lye
  • ½ gallon water
  • Semolina for dusting

  1. 1. Place all ingredients above the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with a dough hook until just combined. Cover with a tea towel and let rest 20 minutes. Add the salt and knead on medium-low speed for 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is a smooth, hard mass. Bagel dough should be very stiff, and different flours react in different ways. You may need to add a small amount of additional flour to get this dough as stiff and rubbery as you want it, especially if you substitute flour types.
  2. 2. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.
  3. 3. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for ten minutes.
  4. 4. Roll each ball into a log that is equal width all the way across, approximately eight inches long (longer if you want skinnier bagels).
  5. 5. Pinch the ends together to form a ring. It’s helpful to spray a little water on the ends so they pinch together nicely and stay closed.
  6. 6. Place the bagels on a silpat-lined baking sheet and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Be sure to use a baking sheet that is small enough to fit in your refrigerator, as in a later step you will need to proof the bagels in the fridge.
  7. 7. Leave to proof on the counter for 4-6 hours, preferably at 80°F.
  8. 8. Once the bagels have puffed, place them in the refrigerator overnight (minimum six hours, maximum ten).
  9. 9. The next morning, heat the oven to 400°F. Place the water and lye in a ceramic pot (taking precautions not to get lye on your skin) and bring to boil. Remove bagels from refrigerator and boil them two at a time in the lye bath for 15 seconds on each side. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to turn and transfer them, and take care not to poke them too much with the spoon.
  10. 10. Place the dipped bagels on a wire rack to drip dry for five minutes. Meanwhile, dust the silpat-lined baking sheet with a thin layer of semolina.
  11. 11. Place the bagels back on the baking sheet and into the oven on the upper-middle rack.
  12. 12. Bake them for 11 minutes, then turn the sheet and bake for an additional 11 minutes, for a total of 22 minutes.
  13. 13. Remove to cool on a wire rack and enjoy.

Sous Vide Souffle’s

Makes 4 souffles

This post has step-by-step photos if you want thumbnail detail on how to form souffle’s

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp salt

To prepare the soufflés:

1. Heat your sous vide supreme or immersion circulator to 156°F. Establish the mise en plus for the eggs, as you want to work quickly. You will need four double-layered sheets of plastic wrap slightly larger than a standard piece of paper, a 3” round cutter (approx), a stand mixer or hand beaters, kitchen twine, and either a half pan (if you have a sous vide supreme) or something small and heavily weighted that you can tie your souffles to (if you are using an immersion circulator). For the sous vide supreme method, be sure your water level is high enough that when you place a half pan inside the supreme (should fit perfectly), it just touches the water.

2.  Beat egg whites and salt to stiff peaks. Place the cutter on a flat surface and lay one sheet of clingfilm over it, making a depression in the film where the cutter is. Spoon beaten egg white into the depression until the cutter is nearly full.

3. Gently place the egg yolk on top of the white.

4. Spoon just enough white over the yolk to cover it.

5. Gather the clingfilm as though it is a satchel, and tie it tightly just at the top of the egg white so you have a little beggar’s purse.

6. Quickly repeat for remaining eggs. (For immersion circulator method, tie your beggar’s purses around the heavy objects so they will remain immersed in the water bath.)

7. Drop the soufflés in the water bath (for sous vide supreme, cover with half pan so that pan keeps soufflés immersed, then fill half pan with water for stability). SET A TIMER for 24 minutes.  Turn the oven on broil.

8. Once 24 minutes has elapsed, remove the purses from the water bath, quickly and carefully untie them and remove them from the plastic wrap, and then place them tie side up on a silpat-lined baking sheet, taking care not to rip the soufflé (a small rubber spatula works well here).

5. Place them on medium rack in oven under broiler and WATCH CAREFULLY. When the soufflé just begins to brown at the top, remove from oven. This could be anywhere from 1-3 minutes. You do not want to overcook or your yolk will lose its runniness.

6. Serve with the sourdough-lye bagels, on a bed of greens, or use your imagination.

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22 Responses

  1. Well done! Question, is there a certain amount of water you recommend with the 2 tablespoons of lye?

    Linda Reply:

    @Ben, yep, use a half gallon of water. These are fun to make- enjoy!

  2. this looks AMAZING!!! that’s one sexy slow cooked egg!!!

  3. My word!! One commenter summed it up by saying yolk porn and this is truly correct. You make baking with sourdough sound so loving and romantic but don’t kick packaged yeast out either ;) I’m kinda interested in Doughvember, sounds like an awesome event for a bread lover like myself.
    Take care…

  4. In my current hungover state I would pay someone approximately $300 to deliver that to my bedside. I’m in love.

  5. I don’t even like eggs and I still want to make this dish because you make it look so luscious! My dougvember has completely slipped away and I will have to continue working on my projects next month…maybe even give the lye a try.

  6. Wow. I am speechless. This recipe and the photos are fantastic. I am so inspired.

  7. I really want those damned eggs now, alas no sous vide bath but I reckon it’d be worth a go in a pan!

  8. [...] a categorical site of some beautiful eggs from Cupcake Project, Crepes of Wrath, Simone Anne, and Salty Seattle. If we haven’t, take a look during a recipes, and afterwards let me tell we all about [...]

  9. These bagels look amazing! Wow – what a great treat!

  10. Looks like a lot of work but i would have this everyday!

  11. Did you just say Nubian brown? :) Great post.

    Linda Reply:

    @Ed, that I did! ;)

  12. Um, I can’t stop looking at the second photo… the close-up with the yolk oozing out all sexy-like. When I grow up, I want to make this recipe.
    *coughs*
    *scrolls back up to look at photo again*

  13. Damn. Just…damn. That souffle thing looks insane. Totally trumps my egg yolk hiding in ravioli recipe! I’ll tell you what – I don’t have a fancy immersion circulator, and there is no way my husband is going to let my accident-prone ass buy lye (He said as much when I showed him your instagram pic), but I am going to figure out how to make something darn-well close enough to this in my 20th century kitchen. That’s a fact. You are a sourdough goddess.

    Linda Reply:

    @Julie @BananasForBourbon, Hope to see your results!

  14. My god, you give such amazing yolk porn.

    Linda Reply:

    @Michelle, haha- great description.

  15. Um yeah, so I don’t think anyone on the planet exists who can combine comfort food with future food in such a natural way. You’re like a culinary alchemist, and I’ll be forever in awe. I ordered lye- if it will make my bagels look like yours, I’m willing to assume the inherent risk of cooking with chemicals and being the clumsiest person around.

    Linda Reply:

    @Brady, You can do it- just wear gloves and hope for the best!

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