Bagels, real bagels, are not something from a supermarket. Yes, they may be a round bread roll with a hole in the middle, a thin crust and an evenly aerated crumb. But a chewy, slightly sweet, authentic bagel is really something extraordinary. Try making them yourself to realise how delicious they can be.
The traditional bagel is made by letting the dough rise very little and then plunging it into boiling water before baking to help create a shiny and chewy crust. The crumb of traditional bagels should be slightly dense and not at all soft or light. The thin crust will be slightly crisp just after baking and will then soften.
There are still traditional bagel bakeries in Brick Lane in London that use the traditional ‘boil and bake’ method.
Bagels can appear to be very slightly sweetened, due to the addition of malt syrup to the boiling water or (occasionally) sugar to the dough. Bagels can be white, wholemeal or flavoured.