Heat water to 110°F, then add the sugar and yeast. Stir. Let sit for 10 minutes until frothy.
Add flour and salt to the wet ingredients. Stir to combine.
Gently knead the dough using stand mixer with dough hook, bread machine or by hand.
Grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil or cooking spray. Place dough inside the bowl, rolling it around to coat in oil.
Cover bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Wait one hour.
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl. Punch it down to force out air.
Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Shape dough portions into balls.
Use your fingers to create a hole in the center of each dough ball. Pull at sides to widen holes to 1 inch.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and add the barley malt syrup, honey and/or baking soda.
Add 2 to 3 bagels to the pot (do not crowd). Boil for one minute, then flip the bagels over and boil for another minute.
Season bagels (if desired).
Spray air fryer basket with cooking spray. Add bagels to air fryer basket.
Air fry at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.