This asiago bagel recipe Is an excellent Panera copycat for their signature Asiago Cheese Bagels.
A long, slow rise gives them a lovely chewy texture, and as far as I’m concerned, these homemade bagels are better than Panera’s. Way better.
Working at Panera
Panera. I worked there during culinary school.
They handed me a hat, made me buy khakis and black polo shirts, and I worked the register on the pastry side of a super busy Panera in the swanky part of west Orlando in the mornings before wolfing down a Frontega Chicken Sandwich, changing into my chef whites in the restroom and heading off to class just ten minutes down the road.
At 6:30 every weekday morning, I was met with an endless stream of bleary-eyed and ravenous commuters in dire need of a latte and an orange scone.
And asiago bagels.
I learned to work that register like nobody’s business. I knew where everything was on every screen and I could ring folks up lightning-fast. Until they’d change the screens.
Pretty much everything at Panera is made at a local-ish Panera commissary then delivered to the stores for final baking. Night bakers would come in and bake off tray upon tray of chewy baguettes, bread bowls for soup, focaccia, sourdough. all the different cookies and Danish, and hundreds of bagels.
And the bagels? Huge.
Maybe softer than a New York bagel, but size counts.
The most popular bagels we sold–by a long shot–were asiago bagels.
Shredded cheese in the dough. Shredded cheese baked to golden perfection on top of each bagel.
Sometimes we’d pull them off the trays and little shelves of cheese would jut out from the bottom. Those were real winners, those cheese shelf bagels.
So, as an ode to my time working at Panera Bread, I give you Panera Copycat Asiago Cheese Bagels.
Credit Where Credit is Due
Since I had never made bagels before, I wanted to stick with a trusted recipe.
I generally like to find a few inspiration recipes and then do my own thing, using the recipes as a jumping off point.
This time, I stuck pretty close to the script. And the script was asiago bagels from Brown Eyed Baker.
Michelle’s recipe is based on a Peter Reinhart recipe, and as far as I’m concerned, bread doesn’t get too much more legit than that. (I know–I have and adore his Perfect Pan Pizza cookbook.)
He even assisted her in adapting his basic recipe to an asiago version via email. And that’s more than enough for me. He literally wrote the how-to of bagels.
The only things I did differently than the original recipe is:
- I used dry malt powder from the brewing store rather than malt syrup. Malt syrup is super, super sticky and thick and messy, and malt powder is…not. The flavor is the same though, so that’s what I went with. NOTE: Feel free to use either honey or dark corn syrup instead. Even a touch of maple syrup will do in a pinch.
- I diced the cheese for mixing in the dough in about 3/16″-1/4″ dice rather than shredding it. I wanted wee pockets of melty-cheesy goodness. It was more of a pain to incorporate the wee cubes of cheese into the stiff dough, but I think it was worth it. The flavor will be the same if you shred it though, so do what you feel led to do.
The ingredients for bagels are surprisingly straightforward. The trick is, you use several ingredients more than once and in different ways.
Still, the list is short:
Making a sponge is easy, I promise.
All you do is add flour, water, and yeast together to make a thick batter and then let it rise for a few hours.
This gives the flour a chance to start being converted into sugars by the yeast and allows the yeast to eat and happily multiply before being weighed down by extra flour.
To make the dough, you use all the sponge you made plus additional flour, a touch of yeast for added oomph, malt syrup (or honey or dark corn syrup), and kosher salt.
The salt adds flavor and moderates the yeast production to keep that dense/chewy bagel texture we love.
And of course, you then knead in the cheese.
Aside from bringing a big old pot of water to a boil, I add some malt syrup (or honey or dark corn sryup) to the water.
The point of boiling the bagels is to gelatinize the outside of them to keep them from rising more than just a little bit.
This keeps the crumb nice and tight and the flavor chewy.
Adding a touch of malt syrup adds the merest bit of sweetness to the crackly bagel cruts.
Mixing the Dough
Making the dough is a pretty straightforward process, although there are multiple steps.
Please, if you are going to make these, I cannot stress enough that you really need to use a heavy duty stand mixer for this job. The dough is stiff and your mixer will definitely get a workout!
- mix sponge ingredients together
- allow to rise until very light and bubbly
- mix in additional flour and yeast plus salt and malt syrup
- knead the dough until smooth and supple
- knead in the cheese by hand
- scale out the dough and let it rest
How to Shape Bagels
There are two main ways to shape your bagels. Each method starts the same way:
Scale out your dough into bagel-sized portions (most bagel recipes scaled for home baking make 12, so divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. I weigh the entire amount of dough and then divide by 12, scaling each piece accordingly.
Once you scale your dough, you roll the dough into rounds.
After that, you have two choices:
- either poke a hole in the center of each round, stretching it out well so it doesn’t close up while baking or
- roll each piece of dough into a rope, overlap the two ends and roll them together to make a ring.
The Traditional Way
There are a few steps to shaping bagels traditionally, but they’re not hard. Here’s how it goes, by the number:
- Flatten each round of dough down, pressing out as much of the gas as you can.
- Fold opposite side of your flattened round in by about an inch, like how you’d start a burrito or an egg roll.
- Tightly roll up the (now) strip of dough.
- Place seam side down.
Perform all of those steps in a row for each piece of dough. Once you’ve shaped them, place them back on your pan-sprayed sheet pan to rest. This will make them easier to roll out in step 5.
Once all 12 pieces of dough are shaped, take each one, and one by one, roll them out into a snake about 10-12″ long.
Once you have your snake, simply wrap it around your hand, overlapping the ends by about 1-2″ in your palm.
Then, slap your hand, palm side down, onto the counter and roll firmly to make sure the overlapped ends of the dough seal well.
I was a bit concerned some of mine would Sproing open, but they all stayed nicely together. But do take time to make sure you roll them really well to prevent sproinging when boiling or baking.
Which Way of Shaping Them Is Best?
Rolling the dough into rings yields a chewier bagel.
The chew of a bagel has to do with gluten formation and also boiling the bagels (gelatinizing the outisde) to keep them from rising too much in the oven.
This keeps the crumb nice and tight instead of airier like other breads.
When you poke a hole in the center of the dough, in effect, you are cutting some of the gluten strands–breaking them so they aren’t as long as they can be, and this results in less chew.
Trust me, you’ll still get a nice chewy bagel with the poking method, but for true, old-school, super chewy bagels, I’m sticking with the rope method.
No broken gluten strands means lots of long stringy gluten that will bake up into chewy deliciousness.
The Effect of Rising Time
I did an experiment, mainly because I was hungry and didn’t want to wait until the next day to enjoy bagels.
I split the recipe in two and allowed half the bagels a 5-hour rest in the fridge after shaping and the other half a 15-hour rest.
The results? The two batches look almost identical, but the bagels that were allowed a longer rest in the fridge had more chew, definitely.
I wouldn’t sneak either batch to the dog or anything (if I had a dog), but given the choice in the future, I’ll go with the overnight rise.
If you like a more…pillowy?…bagel, 5 hours in the refrigerator is more than sufficient.
Even though I preferred the 15-hour asiago bagels to their 5-hour friends, I had no problem enjoying both kinds!
What If I Don’t Have a Baking Stone?
I recommend baking these on a preheated baking stone, letting the stone heat up in the oven for a good 30 minutes before baking.
But if you don’t have one, here’s some good news: you can bake the bagels, 3 at a time, in a Dutch oven!
How do I know this? One of my readers, Anthony, asked the question because they didn’t have a baking stone.
I suggested stacking 3 cookie sheets together to have more mass and therefore more heat retention. I didn’t want him to have to do 4 rounds of baking in a Dutch oven, but as he was in a pinch, he went for it, and he said they turned out great.
Note, he made a half recipe, so 6 bagels only required 2 rounds of baking in his Dutch oven. Pretty cool!
Here’s Anthony’s review:
If you’re interested in the whole exchange between the two of us, you can find that discussion below in the comments.
Can I Freeze Them?
Absolutely. I like to slice mine once they have cooled completely and then store them in a freezer bag in the freezer.
When I want one, I’ll thaw it in the microwave, which only takes about 15-20 seconds, and then open it up and toast it in my toaster oven.
If you don’t take into account all the mixing and rising and whatnot, homemade bagels are the perfect convenience food!
Other Breakfast Bread Recipes To Try
If you’re a fan of a good carby breakfast, give these other recipes a try.
- Whole Wheat English Muffins I made mine with sprouted wheat flour. They are so much better than store bought English muffins. You gotta try them!
- Pancakes for One The recipe doesn’t have any eggs in it, and it’s easy to scale it up to make pancakes for as many folks as want them. But just in case you don’t want to share, a single recipe makes 3 pancakes just for you.
- German Pancakes (Dutch Baby) My version of German pancakes uses potato in the dough for a heartier and more rustic oven-baked pancake. The center is nice and custardy. Seriously tasty.
- Hawaiian Roll French Toast Muffins Perfect portions of Hawaiian rolls soaked in custard, stuck in muffin tins, topped with streusel then baked. Grab one or two for an easy breakfast, or serve them for brunch
Other Delicious Bagel Recipes “From Our Dinner Table”
- Air Fryer Everything Bagels by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Asiago Cheese Bagels by Pastry Chef Online (You’re here!)
- Breakfast Bagel Pizza by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Smoked Salmon Spread by That Recipe
- Stir-Fried Bagels with Cabbage and Bacon by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Strawberry Cream Cheese by Art of Natural Living
- Water Bagels by Simply Inspired Meals
If you have any other questions about this recipe or any other, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
You can leave a comment here, and I will be back in touch in about 24 hours.
If your question in more urgent, you can email me and I answer within about 4 hours.
Either way, I promise to help!
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
This is the scale I use, love, and recommend.
I really hope you love this recipe, you guys!
I’d also love to have you join my PCO newsletter, The Inbox Pastry Chef!
Thanks, and enjoy!
For the Sponge
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast, (you can also use instant which is what the original recipe calls for)
- 18 oz bread flour, (I used King Arthur)
- 20.3 oz filtered water at room temperature, (it is very cold in my kitchen right now, so I heated my water to about 80F)
For the Dough
- all of the sponge
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast, (or instant. See above)
- 15 oz bread flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, (yes, you need this much. Don't skimp on the salt)
- 1 Tablespoon malt syrup, (or honey or dark corn syrup)
- 6 oz asiago cheese cut into small dice, (or shredded)
- wide pot of water
- 1 Tablespoon malt syrup, dark corn syrup, or honey
- 5 oz asiago cheese, shredded
For the Sponge
- Combine the yeast, flour and water in a large bowl. Stir well to combine completely. It will be the consistency of a thick batter.
- Cover and let rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours, or until it has more than doubled in bulk and is very, very bubbly. It should be so bubbly that it collapses if you give the side of the bowl a whack. How long it takes to achieve this will depend on the temperature in your kitchen, but it will probably take at least 2 hours.
For the Dough
- Combine the sponge and the rest of the ingredients except the cheese in the bowl of your heavy duty stand mixer. (Unless you're making the dough by hand, do not try this with anything but a powerful stand mixer. My poor old 5 quart KitchenAid became alarmingly hot during kneading and threatened to die. The motor even momentarily would stop turning the dough hook. This dough is Serious.)
- Mix on low speed until all the flour is incorporated and then turn the mixer up to medium-low speed and knead for 6-8 minutes. The dough will be firm yet supple. At the end of kneading, it should be very smooth and very extensible and not at all sticky.
- Give it the windowpane test to make sure the gluten is good and developed.
- Knead in the cheese by hand. This might take awhile, but just go for it.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Mine scaled out at 4.75-4.8oz each.
- Form each into a smooth ball and let rest, covered for 20-40 minutes. (20 minutes for a warmer kitchen. 40 for a cooler kitchen. My kitchen is currently about 65F during the day)
- After the rest, shape the bagels.
To Shape the Bagels (See NOTES for a simplified method of shaping)
- Press one of your pieces of dough down flat so it looks sort of like a tortilla about 6" diameter.
- Fold two of the "sides" in about an inch and pat down.
- Roll up the piece of dough like a burrito and place it back on the sprayed baking sheet, seam side down.
- Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Then starting with the first piece of dough, roll it out into a snaked about 10-12" long.
- Wrap the dough around your hand, overlapping the edges by an inch or two. Have the overlap be on the palm side of your hand.
- Put your palm down on the counter (with the bagel still wrapped around it) and roll the overlapped part of the bagel firmly back and forth on the counter to make sure the dough sticks.
- Place the proto-bagel on a sprayed baking sheet.
- Put six bagels on one tray and six on another.
- Lightly spray the tops of the bagels with cooking spray, cover them with plastic wrap and let them sit for 20-30 minutes (again, depending on the temperature of your kitchen).
- You don't want to see any more rising, but you'll know they're ready for a rest in the fridge when they float in a dish of water. Just test one. If it sinks, give it a few more minutes of rest time (but do dry that guy off with a paper towel) If it floats, it's a witch. No. If it floats, it won't be like lead when you bake it. So once your tester guy floats, dry him off, re-spray and then put all the bagels in the fridge for a nice, long rest.
- Refrigerate the bagels for at least five hours and preferably longer, up to about 36 hours. I went with about 16 hours and they were gloriouis.
To Finish the Bagels
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 500F with a rack in the center of the oven. Put your pizza stone in the oven to preheat. You'll be baking directly on it.
- Heat the water to a boil and add the malt syrup or corn syrup.
- Pull one tray of bagels out of the fridge and leave the other in there.
- Have your baking stone heating in the oven
- Boil the bagels, two at a time, for about 10-15 seconds on each side. I started with the top side up, then flipped so the top side was down. I fished the bagels out of the water with a skimmer, let them drain for a couple of seconds and then flipped them over onto the cornmeal-dusted pan so the top side was up again. Tada!
- Right after boiling, liberally sprinkle the top of each bagel with some of the shredded cheese.
- Once all six bagels are boiled and topped, use a metal spatula to transfer each to the baking stone and bake for 8 minutes at 500F.
- Turn the pan 180 degrees and bake another 8 minutes. You're shooting for an internal temperature of about 200F, so keep an eye on them. NOTE If you like a bagel with a bit less color, turn the heat down to 450 for the second half of the bake.
- When done, use a metal spatula to remove them from the baking stone to a cooling rack.
- Cool the bagels on the rack for at least fifteen minutes before slicing and serving. I prefer to let them cool all the way so the structure has a chance to completely firm up before slicing and toasting.
- Boil and bake the second tray the same way as the first.
- To keep them very fresh, cool them completely, slice them (or not), and then store them in heavy-duty zip-top bags in the freezer. They thaw in about 25 seconds in the microwave.
An Easier Way to Shape the Bagels
Poke your pointer finger into the very center of the top of one of your smooth balls of dough. Poke it all the way through and then have your other pointer finger join the first one. Pull your fingers apart and rotate them, gently stretching the dough as you go. I stretched mine out so my fingers were probably 4" apart.
Once you shape the bagel, place it on the sprayed tray and press it down just a bit. Repeat with the rest of the balls of dough.
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Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 411Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 21mgSodium 722mgCarbohydrates 64gFiber 2gSugar 6gProtein 18g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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