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WELCOME TO TRUE COUPONINGIn our community, we strive to inspire, encourage and help you save time while you’re saving money. Growing up, I never gave bialys much thought. The bagel shop where I briefly worked in high school had us front-end people take bagels off the machine rollers, pinch together the centers, schmear them with the onion filling and leave them on a tray for the professionals to bake, and that was about far as I’d considered them — a bagel variant. Oh, and that they were excellent toasted with salted butter.
It was reading The Bialy Eaters, Mimi Sheraton’s pursuit of the chewy, onion-topped kuchen from Bialystok, Poland to Paris, Argentina and Miami Beach, Florida, that was a turning point for me. If you’re not from New York City, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. You’ve probably heard of bagels, I’m sure, but bialys, often sold in the same shops, but usually relegated to a neglected lower shelf, rarely get any love. As you can see, bialys are crying out to be made at home, and out of the blue, likely due to a rare combination of deadlines having been met and having already gone to the gym, I decided Thursday was the day.
I was thrilled to discover that Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bread Bible had a version, and that she learned her recipe and technique from a baker at Kossar’s. The dough of bagels and bialys is very similar — both are chewy and intense — but bagels have a crisp outer shell that comes from boiling them before they’re baked, and bialys have a soft, chewy crust. It has a springy soft crumb and a floury crust, and they don’t keep long at all. You should either make them for the day you want them or pop them quickly into the freezer so they taste as fresh as possible when you’re ready for them. 1 minute or until the flour mixture is moistened. The dough should clean the bowl but be soft and elastic. 2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil.
Press down the dough and lightly spray or oil the top. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approimately where double the height of the dough would be. 2 to 2 hours or until it has doubled. Shape the dough and let it rise. Deflate the dough by firmly pushing it down, and transfer it to a floured counter. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered.
Maintaining as much air as possible in the dough, round each piece by pulling the dough together to form a pouch, stretching to make a smooth skin, and pinching it together where the edges meet. If the dough is underrisen, it will puff up in the center instead of maintaining the characteristic hollow crater. The trick for underrisen dough is to make a small hole in the center before adding the filling. Since the dough bakes so quickly, it’s easy to test bake one to see if the dough is ready. In a small saute pan, heat the oil.
Add the onion and saute over medium heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until translucent. I went longer, going for a deeper caramelization but you should cook them to your taste. Remove from the heat and add the poppy seeds, salt, and pepper to taste. Make the craters for the filling.
2 to 5 inches in diameter, forming a crater in the center. My pinching skills are not up to par and my centers puffed a bit. No biggie, but make sure you get a good firm pinch in there! Place the baking sheet with the bialys directly on the hot oven stone or hot baking sheet, or, if using parchment, use a peel or a cookie sheet to slide the parchment with the bialys onto the stone or sheet. Remove the baking sheet or parchment from the oven and, with a pancake turner, transfer the bialys to wire racks to cool until just warm.
Storage: The bialys keep well for one day at room temperature in a paper bag. For longer storage, wrap each in airtight plastic wrap and place freezer bags in the freezer for up to one month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature. Remove the plastic wrap and use the wide end of a chopstick to make about 12 holes in each bialy.
protected by Community♦ Nov 30 ’13 at 20:15
You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in. Notify me of new comments via email. I really want to make these. Miranda — You can definitely knead and mix this, or any other bread dough, by hand. You should go for a few minutes longer as we are, unfortunately, less efficient than machines! I served them with pickled herring! I’m still eating the leftovers of the cream cheese bundt cake, which is en route to become an all-time favorite!
We made those in culinary school and, living in Texas, we do not see them often. They were wonderful, and your’s look great! We used to get bialys when I was little, but they were always plain. I think the caramelized onions sound like an excellent addition. This is awesome, just this morning I was thinking about how much I would love to make bialys. I love bialys, have always liked them better than bagels, and haven’t had a good one in years. I used to think they were a cross between a bagel and an english muffin, because they have to be split and toasted.
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So perfect with lox and cream cheese. Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration to try making them! I’m an equal opportunity bagel-ist, so I give bialys their rightful place in my Sunday bagel rotation. It’s wonderful to be able to just make them at home. I don’t think my boyfriend will believe that there is anything better in the world than bagels. Maybe we will just have to give them a try!
I attempted bagels and the dense texture is hard to ascertain. Perhaps I should just switch to bialys. Anyhow, I would try different toppings. Perhaps adding a strong cheese or even using white poppy seeds, which I discovered at the indian bizarre. I do love theme and variation. I hope to learn from you! I love bialys, but I’m never quite sure how to eat them.
So I just chew on them. Noah’s doesn’t boil their bagels, it’s always been my impression. My friend used to work their. They just spritz ’em with water, then bake. I’ve never heard of anyone making bialys but these look terrific. I like them so much better than bagels. I just unearthed my little bag of poppy seeds and The Bread Bible to make some bialys!
I visited Long Island years ago and fell in love with these things. I had never seen them here in Ohio and still haven’t. Good to know they’re good to make at home. I haven’t had a bialy in years, but remember well the bagel shop in Park Slope near my grandparents’ house. We used to go every Sunday for bagels and bialys, but as a kid I didn’t like the onions and would pick them off.
When I read Mimi Sheraton’s book, I thought about those bialys. Now I’m thinking about making them. I’m ashamed that I haven’t heard of bialys before, but they look delicious! Plus, I’m nuts for anything with poppy seeds. I’ll be trying this recipe soon. I have never heard of these before. It’s actually the main thing I miss from New York.
I used to get them toasted with cream cheese and tomato. I’m sure not the traditional way to eat them but the onion in the bialy made it so good. Huh, I’ve always considered bialys to be an inferior cousin to the bagel, but perhaps I’ve just never had a good one! Thanks for inspiring me to revisit! Thank you so much for posting this. I think we miss bialys as much as we miss NYC bagels, and since my husband is on a baking kick of late, I’m forwarding this to him now.
These are on my list of things to bake, now, thanks! They sound delicious, and have the added benefit of not letting things fall through a hole in the middle of the bagel. I can’t wait to try these! I’ve never heard of these, but they look delicious! I can’t wait to make them! I, being the mid-western native I am, have never had a bialys. I’ve read about them in books, seen them on television shows, dreamed about hitting a real-live bagel shop or Eastern European bakery and stuffing myself into oblivion.
But for some reason it never occured to me to try making them at home. And trust me when I say that is an unusual ommitance. I will remedy that this afternoon. You just reminded me of my favorite sandwich of all time, forever and ever, amen!
There was a bagel shop in Orange County that had a Reuben on an onion-smothered bialy that would just make me die and go to heaven sixteen times by the time I was done. The shop is gone now, and I am living in New Mexico anyway, but I could make these! Oh man I haven’t had a bialy in forever. In high school the student government used to deliver bagels and bialys to our first hours from this fantastic shop across the street. They’d come in big paper bags still hot, and I’d dig through the bag to find the ONE bialy they’d throw in the mix. Everyone else would be scrambling for the cinnamon raisin bagels.
I’ve always been dubious about bagelmaking at home, but these bialys look pretty perfect. How do you toast these without all of the onion toppings just spilling out and burning in your toaster? There’s an artisan bagel shop near my house that sells bialys. You’re right, I’ve never heard of these.
I tried to leave a comment but don’t seem to be able to do it. Just wanted to say that you are a great inspiration for another foodie-who-loves-to-cook-and-write like me who also has a tiny NYC kitchen! I’ve seen these in bagel shops before and never really gave them a second thought, but now I’m curious. My only question is what the insides of these look like. My association is that bialys should have a much more open crumb than bagels — almost like the nooks and crannies of an English muffin. Is that how these turn out?
I may just try this recipe as is because the bialys look so good, but any thoughts on using whole wheat flour? Has anyone found any kind of sprouted flour in a store and not had to order it online? Mmm, I think I need to make these, um, IMMEDIATELY. You’ve totally got me craving them now. I have never heard of Bilays before! Oooh, I love new bakey ideas.
How funny I just had my first bialy yesterday. I can’t vouch for their authenticity but on the weekends in Portland Kenny and Zukes has them. So, Mimi Sheraton says in her bialy book that whatever schmear you use is supposed to go across the top, not split and in the inside, which pretty much blew my bialy-loving mind when I read that. Also necessary to note: My pinching skills are not up to par and the centers puffed. No effect taste-wise, but you should see more of a pressed-in center, so if split horizontally, the onion often stays with the bottom half and the top almost looks like a bagel ring. Any and all onion bits lost in the split should be summarily scooped back onto the now-buttered or cream cheese-ed surfaces. See how blue the centers of my bialys look?
That’s not what they’re supposed to look like. When I worked there one summer, I found a copy of The Bialy Eaters on a bookshelf in the shop. The bialys from my childhood were NEVER brushed with egg whites. I could do a dissertation on bialys as I have done on bagels in the past. One hint I learned from a fabulous Saveur bagel recipe years ago is that adding a bit of vital wheat gluten to the flour can allow you to use lower-gluten flours without skewing the recipe. IIRC, the proportion is 1-2 t gluten per cup of flour.
I JUST bought bialys after getting slammed with a major craving. I can already tell that the ones i bought are too light and fluffy, not chewy. There used to be a bagel place in Irvington, NJ that sold the best bialys. We would go there after visiting my grandparents and buy bags full of them.
Then we had to eat them fast-toasted with salted butter-before they went stale. I don’t know how you do it, but every recipe looks better than the next! I like the idea that they are in the bagel family but not as tough and don’t need boiling. Six minute bake time sounds great too! I’m in CA where there are many Noah’s Bagles shops around.
It’s not a bad thing, I like them, but they didn’t have the dense chewy texture of the bagels I had eaten when I lived in the DC area. When I read the description of bialys it brought to mind my impression of Noah’s bagels. Are the textures similar in your opinion? Bialys here, in my city, don`t have such lovely name. I`ve never thought that their have so long and complicated history. I`m glad that they are so popular! I put onion filling into the bun not only on the top.
How am I supposed to get any work done AT ALL with those bialys floating around my head? Your blog makes bialys attainable for many bakers. We appreciate your use of our bread flour and the story of how you improved as a bialy maker! I have never lived one day of my life in NYC and I was brought up on bialys. First in Los Angeles as a kid, and now in Boston as an adult. Love the caramelized onion and teeny bit of complementary poppy seed.
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Love them sliced with a schmear and some nova. Love them with unsweetened butter melted on the bottom. And now I will back them. I do make bagels, which are a PITA, and I have other bialy recipes to compare to, but if you swear by these, I’m IN. I had never heard of bialys until this post! Still have no idea how to pronounce them.
Thank you so much for educating me! We might have to make these. Wondering why you’re creeped out by a comment from one of the King Arthur Flour bakers. I’ve made bialys in the past and have never been pleased. Your pics look more like what I was going for, so I’ll try it again. Haven’t had a good bialy since 1974.
Oh, my, although I’ll not be baking much very soon, being temporarily one-handed after hand surgery last week, I’m glad you posted this so that I could sit here dreaming a dream of bialys. My last bialys were from, of all places, the Whole Foods near Dupont Circle in D. I got 15 years ago from a bakery on Main Street in Flushing. I had little trouble somewhat bashfully finishing off three or four for dinner. And, now, in LA, it’s come down to lousy bagels unless one wants to go to Barney’s where there’s a v. I saw a couple once in a Starbucks, and they looked like they’d been made on Ellis Island, circa more than a century ago.
I haven’t had a good bialy since I moved out of NY and am so thankful! Poswix — I never expected an actual Bialystoker to comment, and am thrilled to find one out there. Thanks for the name and suggestions. King Arthur comments — Thanks, but I’m going to be completely honest: My very kind and fewer-typo-making husband typed up this recipe for me from that book and I hadn’t realized that the recipe insisted on King Arthur Bread Flour. You’ll recognize the recipes I type myself as having typo after typo in them! Now, I love King Arthur Bread Flour and use it at home, but I might have added that I suspect many types of bread flour will work, so it is only fair for me to update with that comment. It’s like you read my mind sometimes.