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  1. To make the biga: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. In a medium bowl, stir together all of the ingredients. Cover and leave at cool room temperature for 12 to 20 hours, until very bubbly.

  2. To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the biga, bread flour, yeast, water, and salt to make a soft dough. Increase the speed and knead for 5 to 6 minutes until smooth and slightly sticky. Add the Asiago and cheese powder and knead on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until dough cleans the sides of the bowls. Divide the dough in half. Place one half in a lightly greased bowl and cover.  

  3. Add 3 tablespoons of the bagel topping to the remaining dough in the mixing bowl and knead to incorporate, about 2 minutes more. Cover the bowl and let both doughs rise for 1 1/2 hours, until puffy.

  4. To shape the loaf: Roll each piece of dough into a 16” rope. Roll the seeded dough in the remaining bagel topping. Pinch the ropes together at one end and twist them together to form a two-strand braid. 

  5. Grease the inside of a bread baking bowl or 8" to 9" Dutch oven with lid. Coil the braided dough into a circle inside it. Brush all over with the egg wash, if desired. Cover (with lightly greased plastic wrap or the Dutch oven's lid) and let rise for 1 hour, until almost doubled. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

  6. To bake in a bread baking bowl: Uncover the bowl and bake the bread for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 25 to 30 minutes more, until deep golden brown and the internal temperature is 190°F when measured with a digital thermometer. Remove the loaf from the oven and tip it out of the bowl onto a rack to cool before slicing.

  7. To bake in a Dutch oven: Put the bread in the preheated oven with the lid on for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F, remove the lid, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the center registers 190°F when measured with a digital thermometer. Remove the loaf from the oven and tilt it out of the baker onto a rack to cool before slicing.

  8. Store unused bread cut side down on a cutting board, covered with a dish towel, for up to 3 days. For longer storage (up to 1 month), slice, wrap, and freeze.