They don't look so hot, sort of like the Frankenstein of bread products, a bit misshapen and lumpy, but oh, the taste! These bagels come so close to the bagels of my childhood (from the Lakeview Market in Chevy Chase), the crispy crust and chewy crumb, that with one bite I was transported back to my mother's big blue Chevy station wagon, clutching the still warm bag as I sneaked my hand inside to grab a bagel on the ride home. Now that I'm a mom myself, I know my mother knew perfectly well what I was doing (the rear view mirror and all) but she was enough of a bread lover herself that I believe she understood the impulse.
At any rate, I haven't had much luck making bagels in the past but I suspect that was primarily because I don't like to follow recipes very much and with baking, you really need to follow the recipe. This time, I slavishly read and followed every step and I am chagrined to admit the result was well worth it.
A couple of small nits - I do think I'll add a bit more salt next time and also, the malt syrup didn't mix into the dough very well so I'll have to think of how to solve that problem. Except for those two tiny minuses, this experiment got a big A+ from me. I promised Caroline I'd bring her a dozen next weekend that she can throw in the freezer so I will definitely be going into production again this week. I might even make what my New York friends consider blasphemy - cinnamon raisin bagels. I know they're not authentic but I bet they'll taste delicious.
Postscript: I stored the bagels in a zip top bag after they cooled. This morning I took one out and wasn't feeling optimistic about how they would taste after a night in plastic but once I toasted it, mamma mia! Again, delicious with a crispy crust and a chewy interior. Thank you, Peter Reinhart. Today I will pay homage a second time with ciabatta. I can't wait.