I was once asked what one thing I could not go a week without. Most people would answer “a shower,” or “the Internet,” but I decided to be a little more honest. In my heart of hearts, I know that I could never to a week without carbs. My parents once tried the Atkins diet… I would make it one hour. And the tragic irony is that I cannot bake. I just cannot handle the yeast and the raising and the temperature and the patience. Thank goodness for my fiancé. He tries not to buy bread and instead bakes it himself. Without a bread machine. What is this sorcery?
My fiancé and I make this recipe together whenever we can and play with the additional ingredients. (TRANSLATION: I gave this recipe to my fiancé and he makes them while I suggest delicious flavors.) This cheese came from the magazine where I work, and it made these bagels as good as they’ve ever been. I would like to say, though, that a nice black-pepper or rosemary-parmesan bagel is often just as amazing.
These bagels are the result of my never-ending love of carbs and my overflowing cheese drawer. If you find yourself wondering if the Asiago cubes will mix in with the rest of the dough, don’t worry. Just keep insisting that it will work, and everything will be fine.
4¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 pkg dry instant yeast
1¾ cups warm water
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1¼ tsp salt
¾ cup diced Asiago cheese (¼-½ inch cubes)
1 Tbsp brown sugar (for use in boiling water)
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
Whisk together 1½ cup flour and yeast in a large bowl. In a separate measuring cup, dissolve granulated sugar and salt into warm water. Add to the flour/yeast mixture. Whisk until well-mixed and soupy (about 3 minutes).
Add 2½ cups flour to the soupy mixture. Stir and then work with hands until a stiff dough forms. Knead by hand for 8-10 minutes while gently folding in the Asiago cubes.
Cover dough ball with a damp towel and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into 12-16 pieces and shape them into balls. Poke through the middle of each one with your finger and make the hole about 1-in across. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rest for 20 minutes. With about 10 minutes remaining, begin boiling a pot of water with the extra 1 Tbs sugar dissolved in it.
Once bagels have finished their 20 minute rise, turn on the broiler and broil bagels about 6 inches from the top of the oven (1-1½ minutes each side). Reduce oven temperature to 375oF.
Move the broiled bagels to the pot of boiling water and boil 3½ minutes each side. Top bagels with shredded cheese. More cheese=better. I suggest immediately moving boiled bagels into the oven to bake, as they tend to deflate if they sit at room temperature too long before baking.
Bake for 25-35 minutes on a greased and/or cornmeal-coated baking sheet, flipping bagels approximately halfway through. Bagels should be light brown all over. If you smell something burning a little, obviously check your oven, but in my case it was just some cheese that fell off the top of the bagels.
Cool. Or don’t and eat immediately, burning your tongue but feeling satisfied because it was totally worth it.