What's the best recipe for homemade asiago bagels?
October 20, 2011 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Help me find the BEST EVER peanut-free homemade asiago cheese bagel recipe. The closer to that famous chain's bagels, the better.

My seven-year-old has been absolutely over the moon since age two or so for the Asiago Cheese Bagels from St. Louis Bread Company (Panera to all those people outside of STL whom marketers determined would not believe St. Louisans can make sourdough).

Trouble for him is, at age five, my kid very suddenly developed an allergy to peanuts. I thought at first that spelled a total end of bakery bagels for him. But, when my kid's allergy turned out to be moderate (as peanut allergies go), after much investigation with the restaurant staff, and a conversation with the allergist, I felt guardedly comfortable letting him have his favorite bagel now and again from a particular local BreadCo where the manager and staff knew us as regulars, knew about the allergy and were very sympathetic and careful.

At the time, none of the bagel flavors at my local version of Panera / BreadCo contained peanut products in the ingredient list, (though they did of course serve peanut butter etc. in the restaurant).

But recently Panera brought back their old PB & J flavored bagel. Curses! Shared equipment, shared ovens, shared bakery bins. Now I feel the cross contamination risk is just too high.

When I told my son his cheese-filled sourdough friend had been moved to the DO NO EAT list indefinitely, he sighed dolefully in the seriously tragic way only a small child who is constantly being denied access to baked goods he used to love can, and said, "At least I can still taste them in my dreams."

And then, as mothers sometimes do when faced with an utterly dejected child, I made a rash promise: "I will make you asiago bagels at home! I will make ones that taste just like the ones at the restaurant!"

Right! Cuz I, um, totally know how to do that. Sure.

Hive mind, please help me keep my promise. I need your best recipes for Paneraish homemade asiago bagels. I am a decent baker, so advanced recipes are fine.
posted by BlueJae to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend starting by making plain bagels. I think it would be great as a kid to see (and help!) an adult working from a basic recipe, through experimentation, to "Asiago Bagel!!!!" I've made plain/salt bagels in my crappy apartment kitchen before and the process is straightforward and dare I say kid-friendly.
posted by rhizome at 10:05 AM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks rhizome. I agree with you that a long-term bagel experiment would be a fun and educational family activity, and it definitely would be my plan if I had lots of free time on my hands to bake batch after batch of bagels for weekends on end until I reached Total Bagel Perfection. But at the moment, with two part time jobs, a 20 hour a week volunteer gig, I don't so much. So I'd appreciate getting a head start with a tried-and-true recipe or three that I could try and then tinker with, rather than starting from scratch.
posted by BlueJae at 10:55 AM on October 20, 2011

Here's a pretty good bagel tutorial (complete with boiling, so they are going to be authentically chewy). I have done cheesy pretzels before - you may want to incorporate some cheese into the dough before boiling, and then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top before baking. Here's a cheese bagel recipe to help you get the proportions right, it says it is adaptable to asiago.

I don't think you should worry about starting with a plain bagel. Adding the cheese doesn't really add any layers of trickiness. I have done pretzels before (and jalapeno cheese pretzels), which is a very similar process with the boiling step, and they turn out awesome.

p.s. The bagels will probably freeze well - even pre-slicing before freezing so you can drop them directly in the toaster. (Although you make need to nuke them for 30 seconds before toasting so the cheese doesn't get too toasty - unless you have a special bagel setting on your toaster.) Good luck! I hope your kiddo can enjoy bagels again soon!
posted by sararah at 11:17 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's some asiago bagels with advice from Mr. God of Bread Himself, Peter Reinhart.
posted by sararah at 11:47 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: 2nding the Reinhart recipe. I've been making bagels for a few years, and his method yields by far the closest to a real NY bagel that I've found. Here is another great tutorial on the Reinhart way.
posted by gimli at 4:57 PM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: I also have a peanut & nut allergies, though mine tend towards the really severe end of the spectrum. If you've already got any sort of relationship with the people who work at your local store, you might be in better shape than you think. Go in one day during a slow time (three in the afternoon, maybe, or an hour or two before closing) and ask if there's any chance that you could convince them to set aside some fresh baked asiago bagels for you, specifying that you're worried about allergies, etc.

Though I've only done this once (at a Breugger's), the staff were incredibly accommodating. The manager (who knew me as a regular) offered to bake them first thing on freshly-washed trays, and then set them aside for me to pick up later. It's worth at least asking if this is a possibility at your store. If it is, buy a dozen and toss them in the freezer, and you've got a great stash of treats.

Also, for whatever it's worth, shared ovens aren't much of a concern with allergies--for cross-contamination to happen from the oven, the peanut-laced bagel would have to touch part of the oven, and then an asiago bagel would have to touch that same part of the oven--it's not something that can be airborne. Shared workspace and trays are, obviously, huge concerns, but the oven itself is probably safe.

I hope you're able to work something out for your son--I remember being that age and having one thing after another trigger reactions, and just feeling like the world was *so unfair*. I really admire your efforts to make things easier for him.
posted by MeghanC at 9:38 PM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I think I will try the Reinhart recipe. The bagels look awesome in those pictures.

Of course, if anyone else has more recipes to share, please do. I'd certainly like to try more than one.

MeghanC, thanks so much for commenting from the perspective of a person with a food allergy. I do know I don't have to worry about airborne contamination but I appreciate you including all that useful info anyway. Mostly I was worried that they might use the same oven trays to cook the bagels without cleaning in between. I had thought the bakery probably wouldn't go to all that trouble to separate one bagel, but I didn't really think about buying a whole batch and freezing them. So I may try that too.

I feel like the world is pretty damned unfair, too, when my kid gets told for the too-manyth time that he can't have the cake at a birthday party or can't feed the animals at the petting zoo on a field trip because there are peanuts in the feed, etc. But do my best to make up for it in whatever ways I can think of. I figure, if your own mom won't put her thumb on life's scale for you now and again, who will?
posted by BlueJae at 7:52 AM on October 21, 2011

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