Had a great 40th high school reunion and ate at a couple of excellent restaurants in Philadelphia this past weekend: Zahav (excitingly reinterpreted Israeli cuisine) and Osteria (great Napoletana pizza and creative primi and secundi courses). Loved them both.
The bagel responses are coming in fast and furious and the feedback is, as always, very helpful. Feel free to continue playing with them. Some people reported better shine by increasing the amount of malt syrup in the boiling water by another 50%. Others suggested doubling the baking soda in the water for both increased shine and flavor. Also, placing the just poached bagels directly into a bed of garnishing seeds seems to be more popular than sprinkling them on by hand.
I should have the babke recipe ready to send out by this weekend--still making a few tweaks but getting close. Wait till I put out the call before writing me for the recipe--check back on Saturday evening or Sunday.
Till then, may your bread always rise!