We've made these bagels a handful of times since I first wrote about them in 2010. It's a recipe made internet famous by Smitten Kitchen (like many, many internet famous food things) but one that many consider a little too fussy to be getting on with. Now I'll grant you, Reinhart's recipe is a two day process so it's no good if you want bagels RIGHT THE HELL NOW, but if you are going through the trouble of making your own bagels then I ask you: what's the point of cutting corners? Frankly I find it to be an advantage that it's spread out over two days because it means the morning you are preparing them is devoted solely to boiling and baking. Otherwise there are two exotic ingredients involved: high gluten flour and malt powder. You can just use bread flour or you can go in for something like this. I've seen Sir Lancelot flour at a well stocked Whole Foods and a co-op in Maine, but you might need to order it online if you are intent on super authentic bagel flour... if you do look in a store just make sure you don't come home with vital wheat gluten by accident. I think you could probably doctor up some all purpose flour with a few tablespoons of it, but it's important to note that while it is super high in gluten content it's not actually flour and is what people use to make seitan... and seitan bagels sound pretty gross.
We've used malt powder in the past, but when I went to grab some for this recipe it had turned into a solid malty block. I guess you are supposed to freeze it to store it, who knew? (well people who read the packaging probably) We substituted a little brown sugar as suggested and I thought the bagels tasted great, so I'm not sure I'll bother with it again.
These are a great little project and well worth making. I'm no bagel connoisseur, but I feel like these are worlds better than 90% of the bagels out there and will give even the very best a run for their money.