And we learn that possesses has a heck of a lot of s’s.
It’s not that I don’t LIKE it. I do. It’s just not the first thing I think of when I’m all OMGIneedfoodnow. I’m simply not a bread person and can easily pass up the dinner basket unless I’m starvvvving. Which yeah… feels like all the time.
But still, I prefer to think of bread as a vehicle for something much more delicious. Like smashed avocado with sea salt and lime. Or a plate full of olive oil sprinkled with parmesan cheese and minced garlic. Or really creamy peanut butter with a layer of melted chocolate chips. Or melty brie topped with macerated strawberries. Or even… cut into little cubes and mixed with bacon and other delicious bites then doused with gravy on that thing we call Thanksgiving.
That’s what I think of bready stuff. And believe me, I thank my lucky stars that I don’t have the bread addiction like so many others, but I MORE than make up for it with a cheesecake, cookie, pizza and mac and cheese addiction. Pick your poison.
Now the kicker: things like buttermilk biscuits, cornbread and banana bread don’t really fall under those specifications because, well… they are buttermilk biscuits, cornbread and banana bread.
And bagels too. I love bagels as much as the next guy (but really, who IS that even?), however they gotta meet these three conditions:
They must be fresh.
They must be PERFECTLY toasted. Like, perfectly.
They must be blanketed by a spread or sandwich-like things.
If right about now you are thinking “wow, this chick is seriously high maintenance and I feel bad for those within a 16 mile radius of her”… then you are certainly right.
[And if you know anyone else that posts pictures of their very dirty home appliances on the internet, you should probably send them my way. I clearly need friends.]
Last week I stopped by my parents’ house and on the counter I spied a BAG full of asiago bagels. After I checked the fridge… of course. That’s always the very first thing I do. Obviously.
But wait… why do parents always have the best food? Why do things taste like five kajillion times better at their house?
Why do I want to consume food that I normally don’t even care about when I visit, like gumdrops and buttered rum muffins and two-week old cold pizza and stale-but-buttery Ritz crackers?
If I love bagels, I love asiago cheese bagels like sixty times more. If I found it feasible to waste a day’s worth of calories on bread alone, I would trek to Panera every single freaking day.
Oh but wait. I don’t have to. Because I MADE MY OWN. And they are easy. Promise. Super promise. It only took me four or five tries, which yeah, was a massive pain, but now? I have asiago cheese bagels for life.
Homemade Asiago Cheese Bagels
makes 12-15 bagels
10-12 ounces freshly grated asiago cheese
2 cups warm water
2 packets active dry yeast
2 tablespoons honey
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar (for the water bath)
vegetable oil for brushing
In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine water, yeast and honey, stir to combine, then let sit until foamy, about 10-15 minutes. Once foamy, gradually add in salt, 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 cups of bread flour with the mixer on low speed. After 5 minutes or so, if the dough is still sticky, add the remaining bread flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and mix until combined. Remove the dough from the bowl (it should be thick and stiffer than most yeast breads) and knead a few times with your hands, forming it into a ball. Add the remaining all purpose flour if the dough is still sticky.
Brush a large bowl with oil and place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place (I turn on my oven and set it on top) until it’s double in size – about 1 hour.
Once doubled, punch down the dough and place it on your counter, using a little more flour if needed to prevent it from sticking. Divide the dough into 12 pieces (I actually got 15) that are 2.5-3 ounces each. Using your kitchen scale here is priceless! Rolls the dough into balls, then places on an oiled baking sheet, cover and let rise for 30 minutes. At this time, grate your cheese and place it in a large bowl.
After 30 minutes, fill a large pot with water and add brown sugar, letting it come to a boil. While the water is heating up, take each round of dough and poke a hole straight through the middle, twirling it gently on your finger to create the bagel “look.” Place back down on the baking sheet and let rest for 10-15 minutes, while the water comes to a rolling boil.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If needed/desired, grease another baking sheet. I did this as I found it was easier to place the bagels on.
Once boiling, add 3-4 bagels at a time. Let cook for 2 minutes on one side, then using the end of a wooden spoon, flip the bagel and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove bagels one at a time and place in the bowl of asiago cheese, turning to coat and lightly pressing to adhere. Transfer to the greased baking sheet for final baking and repeat. Once all the bagels (or as many that can fit on your sheet) are finished, place in the oven and bake for 28-35 minutes. I began checking mine after 20 minutes just to ensure that they cheese wasn’t burning. It never burnt, but it did get golden and delicious!
Let bagels cool completely before serving, then toast or eat as desired.
[Note: I did try making the "starter" as noted in the king arthur recipe three times, and all three times I did not like the result of my bagels. This basic recipe without a starter or sponge is what worked best for me.]
Still trying to figure out if this is a wonderful or terrifying thing. Halllllp me.