1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar + more for the water bath
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups bread flour
1. Combine the ingredients and knead vigorously, by hand for 10 to 15 minutes, or by serious electric mixer on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes. High-protein bread flour takes a bit more effort and time to develop the gluten. The dough will be quite stiff; if you're using an electric mixer it will thwap the sides of the bowl, and hold its shape (without spreading at all) when you stop the mixer. Cover bowl with a towel and let dough rise till noticeably puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
2. Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide it into ~10 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, shape it into a smooth, round ball. Use your thumb and index finger to poke a hole through the center of each ball, then slowly stretch the hole, rotating the bagel while stretching, until it's a good 2 inches in diameter. Place each bagel on a parchment-lined baking sheet (cornmeal works too but is more of a mess), and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Cover the bagels with plastic wrap, and let them rise for 30 minutes or more until they puff to the size of a nice bagel.
3. While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath by heating 2 - 3 quarts of water, and 3 Tbps brown sugar to a very gentle boil in a large, wide-diameter pan. Preheat oven to 425°F.
4. Transfer the bagels, four at a time if possible, to the simmering water. Increase the heat under the pan to bring the water back up to a gently simmering boil, if necessary. Cook the bagels for 1 minute, flip them over, and cook 1 minute more. Using a skimmer or slotted spoon, remove the bagels from the water and place them back on the baking sheet. If you'd like to dip the bagels in sesame seeds, etc. do that here. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
5. Bake the bagels for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're as deep brown as you like. Remove the bagels from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Makes ~10 bagels.