Bread No. 5 in the We Knead to Bake project was Bialys. I had tasted this bread at a friends place. She had bought them at a store bakery. We had it lightly toasted with some butter and it was accompanied by ginger tea. So when Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen said we were going to be baking Bialys......... I was very happy.
We Knead to Bake with bread no. 5 for the month of May in the year 2013 - yes, I am late in posting the recipe here. I had cooked quite a few things last year and baked a few things too. And also was a regular with the we knead to bake group. However, never got to posing the recipes here on the blog. Blame my health and the feeling of just lazing and doing nothing that had taken over my whole life last year.Well - I am much better now and will be posting all the recipes to the food and to the baked goodies in the coming days.
The Bialys maybe thought of as a cousin to a Bagel but is quite different from it. For one thing, a Bialy is baked whereas a Bagel is boiled and then baked. A Bialy is round with a depressed middle, not a hole, and typically filled with cooked onions and sometimes poppy seeds. So it is not shiny on the outside with largish puffy bubbles on the inside. A good Bialy should have a springy soft crumb and a chewy and floury crust. A lot of people slather Bialys with butter or cream cheese but they are also nice as they are. Bialys are best when eaten within 5 to 6 hours of making them.
The name Bialy comes from Bialystocker Kuchen which translates as “bread from Bialystok” which is in Poland. Apparently, Bialys are rarely seen or made in Bialystock these days. In the days when there used to be Bialys in Bialystock, it seems the rich Jews ate Bialys with their meals, while the Bialys were the whole meal for the poorer Jews. In the early 1900s, many Eastern Eurpoeans, including the Polish, immigrated to the US and settled down in New York. Naturally, they also brought their Bialy making skills with them and that is how the New York Bialy became famous.
What lends Bialys their signature chewiness is the use of flour that is high in gluten. It is suggested to use bread flour if you can find it. Otherwise use all-purpose flour and add 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten (for the 3 cups). If you cannot find bread flour nor vital wheat gluten, go ahead and make it with plain flour. You’ll still have very nice Bialys that are slightly softer.One way to make them slightly chewier: just refrigerate the dough overnight after the first rise. The next day, take the dough out and keep it at room temperature for about half an hour. Then shape the rolls and proceed with the recipe. These Bialys are on the softer side so do not over bake them or they will dry out and become tough.
Bialys usually have a thin layer of caramelised onions and poppy seeds. I caramelized my onions with a hint or rosemary and some balsamic vinegar and they tasted yum.
This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour
For the dough
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour (use bread flour if you can find it or all-purpose flour + 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten)
1 tsp salt
Milk for brushing the dough
For the Onion Filling
1 tbsp oil
3 medium onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoon dried rosemary (crushed)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
Make the dough first. If you are using bread flour or vital wheat gluten, then your dough will be tougher to knead so if you have a machine you can use, go ahead and use it. If you’re doing this by hand, just adapt the instructions to that.
Put the yeast, sugar, salt and flour in the food processor bowl. Pulse a couple of times to mix and then add the warm water in a steady stream. Knead until the dough comes together as a mass and then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. This will help the dough absorb water. Knead again, adding a little more water or flour (not too much) if you need it, until your dough is smooth and elastic but not sticky.
Shape it into a ball and put it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough till it is well coated. Cover and let it rise till about double. This should take about 2 hours. If you’re not making the Bialys right away, you can refrigerate the dough overnight at this point. When ready to make them, keep the dough at room temperature for about half an hour and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
In the meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the oil in a pan add the onions, and sauté over low to medium heat. Sprinkle a little salt and continue sautéing until they become soft and turn golden brown in color. Add the rosemary and the balsamic vinegar and saute for another 3 to 4 minutes. Keep the caramelized onions aside to cool.
Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour and place the dough on it. Divide it into 8 equal pieces and shape each one into a roll by flattening it and then pinching the ends together to form a smooth ball. (See this video for shaping the rolls) Place the rolls on a lightly greased baking sheet and cover them with a towel. Let them rise for about one hour (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours for refrigerated dough) till pressing with a finger on the top leaves a dent.
Work on one piece at a time, while you keep the others covered so they don’t dry out. When the rolls are ready, pick them up one at a time and using your fingers, form the depression in the middle. Hold the roll like a steering wheel with your thumbs in the middle and your fingers around the edges. Pinch the dough between your thumb and fingers, rotating as you go and gradually making the depression wider without actually poking a hole through.
Remember not to press on the edges, or they will flatten out. Once shaped, you should have a depression about 3” in diameter with 1” of puffy dough around the edge, so your Bialy should be about 4” to 5” in diameter. Prick the centre of the Bialy with a fork so the centre doesn’t rise when baking.
Place the shaped dough on a parchment lined (or greased) baking tray leaving about 2 inches space between them. Place the caramelised onion filling in the depressions of each Bialy. Brush the outer dough circle with milk.
Bake the Bialys at 230C (450F) for about 15 minutes till they’re golden brown in colour. Cool them on a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. This recipe makes 8 largish Bialys.
This is a video on how to shape the Bialys - How to shape Bialy
This is a video on suggestions to eat a Bialy - How to eat a Bialy