Combine all the dough ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead vigorously by hand for 10 minutes. (You can also use a stand mixer.)
The dough will be stiff. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel. Let rest for 1 1/2 hours. This is more to relax the gluten, than to let it rise. It will rise some, but not as much as other yeast doughs.
Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide it into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth, round ball. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
The more circular the balls are, the easier it will be to get a circular bagel. If you don’t mind irregular shaped bagels then you don’t have to worry about the balls being perfectly circular.
While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath by heating the water and brown sugar to a very gentle boil in a wide pan. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
Use your pointer finger to poke a hole through the center of each ball, then twirl the dough on your finger to stretch the hole until it is about 2 inches in diameter (the entire bagel will be about 4″ across). Remember– they will puff up considerably once you boil them. Place the bagel on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
Transfer the bagels 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 2 minutes, flip them over, and cook 1 minute more. Using a skimmer or strainer, or the end of a wooden spoon, remove the bagels from the water and place them back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
Bake the bagels for about 20-25 minutes, or until they’re browned to your preference. To top with seeds, remove them from the oven after about 15 minutes, brush with water, and sprinkle with seeds. Return to the oven to finish baking.
Cool the bagels on a rack for a few minutes, and serve while warm, with butter or homemade cream cheese.