I've never really been a fan of bagels. I've always felt somehow cheated by them. Logistically too, they're difficult - get a bit overenthusiastic with the filling, and down it comes through the lack of bagel in the middle.
However, when I gave Junior the bread books and gave him free rein to choose an item for the baking session, he lit on bagels. So bagels it was.
It did catch me on the back foot rather, as you need fermented dough and I didn't have any, but fortunately the recipe provided for the last-minute bageler so after a quick 2 hour ferment I was ready to go.
The dough is very stiff to work (the Bertinet method works best for me with a sticky, more pliable dough). After a 20 minute rest, it was time to separate the dough into balls and form the bagel shapes. The recipe suggested creating the hole with a rolling pin, but the girth of mine would have meant all hole and no bagel so I improvised by sticking my thumb through the middle and hula-hooping the ring around to embiggen the hole to a satisfactory extent.
After proving, they need boiling for a bit. I was somewhat tentative about this step, dunking my dough in boiling water seemed rather extreme. I got a big pan boiling happily, then chucked them in three at a time. They bobbed on the surface, completely failing to melt or dissolve or otherwise dematerialise, even when flipped over. The recipe advises rolling the tops of the bagels in poppy seeds or similar after draining, but these clearly come under the heading of 'bits' and as such are on Junior's forbidden list.
The bagels took about ten minutes in the oven, and as they cooled on the rack I inspected them with a critical eye. They weren't particularly smooth or even but they had the right sort of shape, notwithstanding the lack of bagel part in the middle not being quite round in most cases. Once they were released for consumption, they were hailed as a triumph by the boys, were consumed rapidly, and placed on the 'do these again' list. I did have one, but my not getting bagels persists past my creation of my very own. The texture was right, and they tasted good - indeed, they were bagels. But I still don't get them.
Recipe: Bagels from Crust by Richard Bertinet