Combine the warm water and yeast in a liquid measuring cup or bowl. Whisk in the yeast until it is completely dissolved. Set this aside for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the bread flour, brown sugar, and salt. With the mixer running on medium speed, slowly pour in the water and yeast. Use a spatula to scrape every last bit into the mixer.
Switch the mixer to low and mix until all of the flour is incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium and mix for 8 minutes straight. If the dough breaks apart during this time, stop the mixer, fold the dough back together with your hands, and continue mixing on medium speed. The dough is stiff, but DO NOT add more liquid.
Shape the dough into a ball and deposit into a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat the entire ball in the oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for a 1 1/2 hours. The dough will be not quite doubled in size.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set a wire rack on a third baking sheet. Set them all aside.
Gently punch the dough down if you notice any air bubbles. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Divide it into 8 roughly equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball. Place 4 balls of dough on each of the baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
To put holes in the bagels, pick up a dough ball and put your index finger through the center. Use your index and middle fingers to widen the hole (~2 inches) by rotating your fingers in a circular motion.
Lay the newly formed bagel back onto the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough balls. Cover the bagels with a damp kitchen towel while you work.
In a wide vessel (Dutch oven, large pot, etc.), combine the 2 quarts of water and the honey. Whisk until the honey is dissolved. Bring the water to a boil, then turn it down a bit so that the water is simmering.
Add the bagels, two at a time, to the water bath. Cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove the bagels to the wire rack to dry a bit. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
Once all bagels have been boiled, whisk together the egg white and 1 tbs of water until frothy. Brush the egg wash onto the tops and sides of each bagel. Sprinkle the topping of your choice liberally onto the bagels.
Place the bagels onto the lined baking sheets again (4 to a baking sheet). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until deeply golden brown. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheets for 20 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
Notes: Yes, you do need to use bread flour.