Here are a few things I learned:
- MOST IMPORTANT: Bake the bagels immediately after boiling! The longer they sit, the heavier they are. If you need to bake in two batches, wait to boil the second batch until a couple minutes before you put them in the oven. Also, transfer boiled bagels directly to baking sheet without "draining" on a rack.
- dust parchment with semolina flour before laying down the boiled bagels. This creates a more authentic look and texture.
- do not use parchment paper a second time - it burns to a crisp, smoking up your kitchen and bagels
- water - various recipes tell you to add various things to the boiling water (barley malt syrup, milk, molasses, etc.) but don't say why. This recipe suggests adding baking soda to alkalize the water, which creates more shine and crust caramelization. Baking soda is the best substitute for food-grade lye used by commercial bagel bakers for the same effect.
- shaping - I used the rope method again, but this time rolled the rope around my hand and rocked the overlapped pieces against the counter to seal them, as suggested by the recipe. This made a perfect seal. But I still have some problems - where's the hole?
- heat - this recipe starts bagels at 500F(260C) for 5 mins and drops to 450F(230C) for another 5 mins. Much hotter and much better than the mini-bagels. This gave a lovely golden crust and light, moist, chewy interior. Yea!
- topping - after baking, I brushed the tops with melted butter and then sprinkled on cinnamon sugar (per the recipe). I found this made the crust rather soggy and sticky. Last time, I sprinkled sugar on the wet boiled bagels before baking, which made for a crisper crust. Much better.
Someone else typed up the recipe so I don't have to. Check it out on Blossom to Stem. In this version, the ingredients have been halved from the original.