July Kitchen Challenge: Asiago Bagels

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The Kitchen Challenge this month from Love and Olive Oil is bagels!  I had never made bagels before, although I remember my Mom making them once many years ago.  So I decided to give it a try.  Of course then I had to try to decide what type of bagel to go with.  My natural inclination is always to prefer sweet over savory, so I immediately started thinking cinnamon raisin bagels. But then, as I was thinking about bagels, my mind drifted back to one of my previous jobs. Working in the medical field, you get a lot of drug reps that come in bearing gifts trying to talk you into prescribing their particular medication. One of the previous offices I worked at received these offerings almost daily, and quite often would get bagels. That was when I was introduced to Asiago bagels.  Everyone in that office had a thing for Asiago bagels. One always had to be saved out for the doctor I worked with or there would be a nasty scene, and then any others would be up for dibs.  Quite often they were the first type to go.  So since everyone else loved them, I gave them a try too, always feeling a bit guilty when I had one of those coveted bagels.  And that little trip down memory lane decided it for me…I would make my own Asiago bagels and have plenty to enjoy without feeling guilty!

I ended up using this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.  She adapted the recipe from Peter Reinhart’s (the bagel guru himself), and even corresponded with him about it and got tips on adjustments that should be made. So I felt pretty confident going with her recipe.  The only change I made was that I did not add as much Asiago as it called for, partly because I didn’t have that much, and partly because I’m a bit of a cheapskate on things like that anyway. (If you must know, one of the nicknames for me around here is “Meat Miser.”) I probably only used about half as much as what it called for, but I felt like the bagels still had a very nice Asiago flavor to them. Also, I just used honey instead of barley malt syrup. 

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I have to say that I was really wishing for a stand mixer when I made these… Since I don’t have one, I did it all by hand, and my wimpy arms are not used to doing that much kneading!  After you make your sponge and let that sit for a few hours, you add in the rest of your ingredients and knead for 10 minutes.  Divide your dough into balls, and let them sit for about 20 minutes.

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I was glad that the dough balls needed a rest, because I certainly needed one by that point!   I used the poke your thumbs through and make a hole method, because that sounded easier to me. Let them rise for a bit, do the float test, and then stick them in the fridge overnight.  We left later in the day, and when we came back, I noticed that our apartment already had a hint of a delicious yeasty Asiago smell, and I hadn’t even baked them yet!

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The next morning I boiled them, only managing to splash boiling water on me once. There is something that seems strange to me about dropping dough into boiling water, so that was kind of fun. Sprinkled the rest of my Asiago cheese on top, stuck them in the oven, and had some beautiful bagels!

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I served them with some herbed cream cheese that I had mixed up.  We have been getting fresh herbs from our CSA, so I added a few teaspoons of both finely chopped garlic scapes and chives, and a little drizzle of olive oil to 4 ounces of cream cheese. We thought it complimented the bagels very well, although they were also delicious without it!  Other than my sore arms, I enjoyed making the bagels and would like to make them again some day…although maybe when my kids are a little older and less needy, as the project was a bit time consuming to do too often!

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