Potato Onion Sourdough “Bagel-Crust” Squares

My first “bagel-crust” squares were a hit; soft and fluffy but with all the loved characteristics of bagel. We loved them so much that I decided to make them again with a different variation. Ian (isand66) always reminds me of the seeds and other bagel toppings in my past bagel bakes so I made this one with his suggestions in my mind.

I found some dried onions the other day in the supermarket. Norm’s onion rolls immediately popped into my mind. Is this the dried onions that are used in them? I really want to know the flavor of dried onions for a long time so I grabbed it immediately and I was able to make a “formula” immediately.

What else goes better with onion other than potato? They’re best friends! I bought 250 g of potato (raw weight), scrubbed the skins clean, cut them so they are roughly the same size and cooked them until soft on top of our steaming rice for fuel efficiency. I think it’s common for most Asian families take advantage of the steam from cooking rice from a free facial to cooking and reheating food.

I let them cool and I mashed them. They were as soft as boiled one so I was not able to mash them as finely with my hands which I kinda like; here were still bits of potato in the finished bread. I soaked the dried onions in hot water for 30 minutes and I saved the soaking water for the dough. They were then seasoned with a bit of salt, sugar, oil and freshly ground black pepper. The dough has bread flour, onion soaking water, salt, sugar, levain, potatoes and 1 tbsp of butter. With the huge amount of potato (almost equal to the flour), I find that it doesn’t need fat to be soft, the butter was more for flavor.

I kneaded until gluten was sufficiently developed then I added the onions which add a considerable amount of liquid. I kneaded the dough a bit more just until the extra moisture was absorbed.

Bulk ferment was fast, just over 3 hours. I think potato is also one of the things that my starter loves.

I shaped it into a neat square then to the fridge immediately. I found out next morning that it was way overproofed (my dough was really fast with high activity) so I reshaped it into a square and put it back in the fridge to bake it in the afternoon. Still, it proofed just right despite the short time in the cold, it will be overproofed again if I didn’t check it earlier.

I cut it into 4 squares; I did not trim the edges anymore because this is a huge batch of dough so scraps can take precious clay pot space which I did not want.

I boiled them straight from the fridge 1 minute on each side before baking it in the clay pot.

I drained them on a towel and when the surface was just sticky to the touch I rolled one in sesame seeds just to test if they will burn badly in the pot or not. Ian, here are the seeds you’ve been looking for!

I baked them until golden brown on both sides with live fire all the time. Here they are baking.

Here are the results:

As control, I bake one without boiling just to see if it makes it a difference. Clearly it does as you can see. You already miss the shiny crust that boiling provides. Here are side by side comparisons.


The cut “sides” also do not bake the same. I think that cuts baked like how “scores” in other breads bake.

Although I call them rolls, they are quite hefty. Each is as big as my palm.

The crust of the non-boiled one was thicker and crunchy in a sense that it was drier. It was also messier to cut. The crust of the boiled ones were thinner, crisper but more elastic and stretchier, and more delicate; the best thing that we love about a bagel (apparently only me loves their chew that’s why I came up with a recipe to emulate their signature crust but has a softer fluffier crumb). The crumb is hands down my best to date. It was the same for both versions; somewhat open, very very moist and soft with the barest hint of chew. A huge amount of potatoes really creates a special texture. My family says this is my best bread and we will earn some money if I will sell them. The black bits in the crumb are the bits of black pepper.

The flavor was bomb! The potatoes, onion, pepper and sourdough worked together to create  taste so sublime. Perfect sweetness and tang. It feel like eating a slice of good pizza even though there’s no trace of tomatoes, cheese or meat in here! The sesame version was even more aromatic. It was my favorite in terms of looks and taste. I will make them all with sesame next time for the added flavor and crunch. If there is one thing that I wish I could have done, it is to increase the pepper; a more peppery bite will surely send this over the edge. It is my family’s favorite in terms of texture and flavor. Definitely a keeper!

Crumb from different parts and angles of the rolls.


I was surprised by the open crumb / large bubbles in this one.

Finally, some random photos. 🙂

“Bagel-crust” squares is a pretty long name so I am thinking of a new name for them. I am planning to call them “Kulo Rolls” from “kulo” which means “boil” in Filipino but I don’t think it will sound very nice to the ears of a Spanish speaker. 🙂 Anyhow, I might stick with that name next time. Thanks!

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Post Author: MNS Master