Place yeast in glass with 1/2 cup warm water. Stir in sugar until yeast is disolved. Let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy on top. Pour this mixture into a bowl and add 2 cups lukewarm water. Stir in salt. Add the 5 1/2 cups flour a cup at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon to blend after each addition. Dough will be sticky.
Spread 1/4 cup of the remaining flour on a work surface. Place dough on flour. Place 1/4 cup flour on top of the dough.
Begin kneading slowly until the flour comes together with the rest of the dough. Knead vigorously for 15 minutes. You may have to add several tablespoons of flour if the mixture is sticky.
Use a sharp knife dipped in flour cut the dough into 16 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Poke your thumbs through the center to make a hole about the size of a quarter.
Spread 1/4 cup cornmeal on each of two trays or cutting boards and place 8 formed bagels on each about 1 inch apart. Cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm draft free spot for 45 minutes to rise.
Remove towel and place trays of bagels in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Boil 3 cups water in a large pot. Spread 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal on 2 cookie sheets.
Place bagels four at a time into the boiling water. The perfect bagel should sink to the bottom and rise immediatly. Boil about 4 minutes turning about every 30 seconds. Don't worry if your bagels don't sink to the bottom; however if they sink to the bottom and lie there, wait until they flost to the top before timing the 4 minutes.
Remove bagels with a slotted spoon and place on a clean towel for a few seconds to drain excess water. Place 8 bagels on each cookie sheet.
You can now add a favorite topping sesame, garlic or onion if desired. Bake 35 minutes or until golden. Remove bagels from cookie sheet and let them cool on a wire rack.
From: Gary Fricke