For the best bagels with a chewy interior and crisp outer crust, we use the traditional method of boiling the bagels briefly before baking.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together yeast and warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on a low speed, add sugar, 1 tablespoon malt syrup, flour, and salt. Knead until a dough forms, about 1 minute. The dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky (if necessary, add more flour or water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Continue to knead dough for 5 more minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl; cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Divide dough into 10 equal pieces. Cover with a damp, clean kitchen towel, and let rest for about 20 minutes. (This will relax the dough and make it easier to shape.)
Line two unrimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, and lightly brush with oil; set aside. With lightly oiled hands, roll each piece of dough into a 6-inch rope. Holding one end of rope between your thumb and forefinger, wrap dough around your hand to form a circle with overlapping ends (they should overlap by a few inches). Still holding the dough, press the overlapping ends on the work surface, rolling back and forth to seal with the palm of your hand.
Place the bagels 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap, and let rest until slightly puffed, about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Fill a large stockpot (the wider, the better) with about 5 quarts of water, and bring to a boil. Add remaining 2 tablespoons malt syrup. Gently drop bagels into the water. (Add as many bagels as will comfortably fit without touching each other.) After 30 seconds, use a slotted spoon or skimmer to flip bagels over; simmer for 30 seconds more.
Using the slotted spoon, return bagels to parchment-lined sheets. Top with seeds or coarse salt, as desired, while bagels are still wet.
Immediately place sheets in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate sheets and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue to bake until the tops of the bagels begin to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Using a spatula, flip bagels over, and continue to bake until other sides turn golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Transfer bagels to a wire rack to cool completely.
Bagels can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, or frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic or stored in resealable bags, for up to 3 weeks. Preslice bagels before freezing for easy toasting.
Reprinted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, by Martha Stewart. Copyright © 2005 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Photographs by Jonathan Lovekin. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.