Instructions

  1. To make the biga: 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: Mix together the biga, bread flour, yeast, water, cheese powder, salt, and Asiago, stirring to make a soft dough. Knead for 4 to 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough in half. Place one half in a 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. 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.