I'm a little behind on posting this, but the good news is my bagels are getting better! My last batch used this recipe and turned out so well that Scott ate 3 off them right off the cooling rack! They were a little paler than store-bought but oh so yummy!
I'm also making our bread...and I think I'm getting the kinks worked out of that recipe as well! Now--watch out English muffins! Here I come!
You've gotta use the bread flour! Look at poor example #1 above, made with all-purpose flour. Yummy, but sort of flat! Now check out example #2 below, made with bread flour. Doesn't that look more like what you'd expect out of a bagel from the store?
My other tip is to use a tiny bit of water to wet the ends of the dough as you form the bagel. It really helps them stick together better for a nicer, rounder looking finished product.