Yes, I am on a baking kick. I'm also experimenting. Fortunately, we get to eat most of the experiments and none, yet, have tried to take over Colorado.
So I exchanged my new bagel ingredients for those in AB5M, and tossed in a few of the techniques mentioned in the BBF as I threatened to here. The results were mixed.
The dough is very moist, as it is supposed to be for longer term storage in the refrigerator, so I threw a lot of flour over the balls in order to shape them into bagels after the resting phase. I substituted 2 lbs of high gluten flour for bread flour and about 1 1/2 tbsp of barley malt syrup for the sugar. I didn't bother putting sugar or baking soda in the boiling water, since Cook's Illustrated never mentioned a need for it, and shorted the boiling time to 30 seconds total. That helped to keep the surface from being quite as lumpy and gummy, so that was good. I also used 4 oz pieces of dough for bagels, instead of the 3 oz mentioned in AB5M. Three ounces is just too small.
The bagels are still quite lumpy, even after all of those changes, but they were a lot smoother than the first time I had made them. Also, I took good care to make sure those holes were really big before I tossed the ring into the water.
I found that by barely handling the dough at all, just enough to make the hole, the bagels were a lot smoother, more like the ideal. I also cranked up the heat in the oven to 450 degrees and baked them on a pair of cookie sheets lined with Silpat. No cornmeal or pizza stone required.
Inside, there is still a distinct difference in the crumb. The CI batch is denser and chewier, but the hybrid batch isn't too far off.
The difference really is in the taste, which can't be pictured here perfectly, but Emma says she'll try.
Personally, while I thought it was good enough, it's not necessarily good enough for me to make it on a regular basis. I figure now that I have the syrup and the high gluten flour, I can take the extra hour and make bagels that I know I'm really going to love and accept that AB5M can't be all things to all people. The rest of the recipes I've made so far I've really enjoyed (Boule, Italian Semolina, light wheat, Kimball's wheat, European Peasant and just today: deli-style rye*) and it has encouraged me to try making bagels which I had never bothered to try previously, so win all around!
Next up: oatmeal bread!
* Yum! And I don't normally like caraway seeds! I suspect a Reuben sandwich may be in my semi-near future.