Proof the yeast by placing it in a large bowl and adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of the brown sugar and the warm water. Stir well and set aside until the mixture bubbles and a slight foam forms on top, about 5 minutes Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and the salt; stir well. Gradually add the flour, 1 cup at a time. Using your hands, mix the dough until the flour is well incorporated. Knead the dough in the bowl until smooth, about 7 minutes The dough should retain a sheen and not appear too floury. Cover the bowl and set aside to rest in a warm place for 40 minutes Lightly dust a cutting board with flour.. Turn out the dough onto the floured board. With a sharp knife, cut a chunk off and mold into a ball. Pierce the ball with your finger and spin the dough around until the hole is of desired size. Set the bagel aside and repeat.
Lightly dust a baking sheet with cornmeal. Place each bagel on the prepared baking sheet and set aside in a warm place, uncovered, for 30 minutes Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Heavily dust another baking sheet with cornmeal. Fill a large, wide pot two-thirds full of water, and bring to a boil. Using a wide, slotted spoon, drop the bagels in batches into the water; they must not touch. Boil on one side for 2 minutes Turn the bagels and boil on the second side for 1 1/2 minutes They should firm and puff up. Carefully remove from the water and drain for 1 minute on a rack. At this point, add what toppings you desire. Place the bagels on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the desired topping(s). Immediately place the sheet in the oven and bake for 12 minutes Turn the bagels over and bake until deep golden brown all over, about 7 minutes Remove from the baking sheets and cool on a rack.
I have skipped the 1 minute draining time and immediately put the bagels in the oven after boiling them, and they turned out really well. Also, the amount of flour you'll need to add will vary a lot. Don't be afraid to add more if you need to. The dough should *not* be sticky.