Combine water and yeast in the large bowl of an electric mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in sugar and salt; gradually mix in 4 cup of the flour. Beat at medium speed for 5 minutes. With a spoon, mix in about 1 1/4 cups more flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out on a floured board and knead until smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky, about 15 minutes; add more flour as needed (dough should be firmer than for most other yeast breads). Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 40 minutes. Knead dough lightly, then divide into 12 equal pieces. To shape, knead each piece, forming it into a smooth ball. Holding ball with both hands, poke your thumbs through the center. With one thumb in the hole, work around perimeter, shaping bagel like a doughnut, 3 to 3 1/2 inches across. Place shaped bagels on a lightly floured board, cover lightly, and let stand in a warm place for 20 minutes. Bring the water-sugar mixture to boiling in a 4 or 5 quart pan; adjust heat to keep it boiling gently. Lightly grease baking a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Gently lift one bagel at a time and drop into water; boil about 4 at a time, turning often, for 5 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spatula, drain briefly on a towel, and place on the baking sheet. Brush bagels with the egg yolk glaze and bake in a 400 deg. F oven for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until well browned and crusty. Cool on a rack. Makes 12.
WHOLE WHEAT BAGELS
Follow basic recipe, omitting sugar; use 3 Tbl honey instead. In place of the flour, use 2 cups whole wheat, 1/2 cup wheat germ, and about 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour. Mix in all the whole wheat flour and wheat germ and 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour before beating dough. Then mix in about 1 1/2 cups more all-purpose flour, knead, and finish as directed.
Follow basic recipe, omitting sugar; instead use 3 Tbl dark molasses. In place of the flour use 2 cups each rye and whole wheat and about 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour. Add all the rye and 1 cup each of the whole wheat and all-purpose before beating dough. Then add remaining 1 cup of whole wheat and about 3/4 cup more all-purpose flour, knead, and finish as directed.
MORE BAGEL VARIETY
Try adding 1/2 cup instant toasted onion to the whole wheat or basic bagels; add it to the yeast mixture along with the sugar and salt. Or sprinkle 1/2 tsp poppy or sesame seed or 1/4 tsp coarse salt on each glazed bagel before baking. Or add 1 Tbl caraway seed to pumpernickel bagels, then sprinkle each glazed bagel with 1/2 tsp more caraway seed before baking.