Malt Syrup: Malt syrup, made from barley, helps give bagels their unique appeal. Malt assists with browning, and feeds the yeast. It's available in jars where health food supplies are sold (used as a sweetener) or from stores that sell beer brewing supplies. Malt powder can be substituted in amounts comparable to liquid malt.
Honey, molasses, or brown or white sugar can be substituted for malt syrup.
Darkening Agents: Baker's caramel, also called blackjack, is a natural coloring agent that bakers use to give dark breads, such as pumpernickels and ryes, their hearty hues. Essentially, it's burnt or caramelized sugar, and it resembles dark-brewed coffee in appearance. Substitutes are unsweetened cocoa and instant coffee crystals.
another substitute is Kitchen Bouquet, a gravy-coloring agent, available in grocery soup or flavorings sections. It does contain extra salt, so it may slightly alter the bagel's flavor.
Water: Many bread recipes call for tap water, which is more to indicate water temperature than quality. Water temperature should be about 110-115 degrees, the range needed to activate yeast. In cold weather, tap water may be too cold. A thermomether will help determine water temperature. If necessary, warm the water slightly in the microwave or in a pot for a few seconds to bring it to the proper temperature. I like to use bottled water because water where I live tastes so bad I won't drink it straight or use it for coffee. So why put it in bread? It also provides a constant for testing and comparing bagels in different cities.
Tap water can be used for boiling the bagels. Someone told me that soft water yields soft bagels and hard water yields hard bagels, but that's not so. There's also a rumor that New York bagels are different and better than all others because of the Hudson River water. This has been debunked by every bagel baker with whom I spoke (except those in New York). Besides, New York bagels differ from each other by bakeries.
Eggs: Traditional water bagels do not call for eggs, but many recipes can benefit from the adition of eggs and, of course, they're used in eg bagels. Egg bagels generally are softer than water bagels and the dough tends to rise more. Use fresh whole eggs or substitute 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute for 1 egg.
Salt: Any commercial table salt can be used. Koasher and coarse salt are used as a topping.
Shortenings And Oils: Vegetable oils used in bagel recipes, such as canola oil, peanut oil, corn oil and similar natural oils, tenderize the bread, give it flavor, improve the texture and add preserving quallities. The traditional Jewish bagel does not have oil, but many people like the flavor and softer texture that results when oil has been used. It's strictly optional. Nonstick vegetable sprays can be used for greasing the pan as well as for adding a glaze to the bagel top.
Adding Ingredients For Flavor And Texture:
The bagel flavor dpends largely on the freshness, quality and amount of added ingredients. Be generous with dried fruits, especially those that you work in before shaping. Use them in raisin sized cunks rather than finely chopping them, so you get a substantial taste when you bite into the bagel. Almost every kind of fruit is now available dried from specialty shops, or by mail.
Be creative. Combine ingredients to create yoiur individualized bagel flavor combinations. Use dried fruits for most additions and experimient with fresh fruits. Canned and frozen fruits do not work well; they add too much liquid and often discolor the dough. Canned olives and chilies such as Jalapenos are fine if they are well drained and blotted amost dry on paper towels before adding.
The Best Bagels Are Made At Home by Dona Z. Meilach Isbn 1-55867-131-5