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    Bialys — Jewish Onion Rolls

    Bialys are the “other” traditional Jewish weekend bread. They originated, according to George Greenstein, as Bialystocker bagels, in Bialystock, Poland. I don’t know if this is correct or not. This recipe is loosely based on one from “Secrets of a Jewish Baker,” by George Greenstein. I prefer bialys to bagels, mostly because they are easy to make and taste so good toasted and buttered or with cream cheese.

    Those of you who are familiar with bakers percentages will note that bialys are really nothing more than a 60% lean dough with a bit of extra yeast, not too much rise and an interesting shaping and topping. Whatever bialys are, they’re good. You can make bialys with a higher hydration and they will only get better, with bigger holes in the rim and a higher loft. Dan Leader, in his new book, “Simply Great Breads,” works with a hydration of 69%. I’ve tried it, and, as expected, it makes a great bialy. I’ve added a notation to the recipe section below showing the amount of water to add to the final dough to make the 69% bialy.

    The original recipe for these bialys is in cups of flour and doesn’t use a pre-ferment. I’ve converted it to weight and added a biga and an autolyse period. I tend to make a lot of rolls when I bake them, since they freeze well and my friends like them, too. This recipe shows me making the bialys using the fountain method. If you make the smaller batch recipe, you can easily use a mixer and save a lot of work. But you’ll miss the fun (?) of using the fountain method.

    In Step 10 of the Instructions, you’ll notice that there are two options. If you pierce the rim of the dough with a fork, you will create a fairly thin rim, one that will toast up crisp and crunchy. I think this style is really good when eaten right after baking. If you want a higher, fluffier (if that’s the right word) rim, then pierce only the center of the bialy, the part under the onion-poppy seed topping. This style bialy keeps better and is just as good as the other style, just different. Try both styles, you can’t go wrong with these little jewels.

    Recipe For a Full Batch

     Biga 

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Bread Flour 10 285
    Water 6 170
    Dry Yeast 1/2 tsp 2

    Dough 

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Biga 16 455
    Warm Water 21 595 Make this amount 25 ounces / 708 grams of water to try the 69% hydration bialy.
    Bread Flour 35 1000
    Sugar 2 Tbsp 30 ml
    Salt 1 Tbsp 15 ml
    Yeast 2 tsp 6

    Topping 

    Onion 1 medium, minced  
    Poppy seeds 2 Tbsp 30 ml
    Salt 1 Pinch  

    Recipe For a Smaller Batch 

    Biga 

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Bread Flour 5 140
    Water 3 85
    Dry Yeast 1/4 tsp 1

    Dough 

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Biga 8 230
    Warm Water 10 1/2 300 Make this amount 12 1/2 ounces / 354 grams of water to try the 69% hydration bialy.
    Bread Flour 17 1/2 500
    Sugar 1 Tbsp 15 ml
    Salt 1/2 Tbsp 7 ml
    Yeast 1 tsp 3

     Topping 

    Onion 1 small, minced  
    Poppy seeds 1 Tbsp 15 ml
    Salt 1 Small Pinch  

    Method

    1. Make the biga a day ahead and let it develop in the refrigerator overnight. How to make a Biga
    2. Mix all ingredients except salt together, knead the dough for a minute or two. Then set dough to rest for 20 minutes
    3. Add salt and knead for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and only slightly sticky.
    4. Set the dough to ferment for 30 minutes. It may expand enough to almost double.
    5. While the dough is rising, cook the topping. (See below)
    6. Fold the dough and divide into 3 1/2 ounce / 100 gram pieces.
    7. Work the pieces into a circle with a definite rim. You may have to let the pieces relax a bit during the shaping.
    8. The doughs should be about 4 inches / 10 cm in diameter and thin in the middle.
    9. As you finish shaping a group of bialys, say 6 or 8, spoon a bit of the topping into the center and press it down a bit with a spoon.
    10; Here you have a choice of rim style:
    10a. For a thinner, crisper, bialy, just before baking, pierce the rim of each bialy with a fork in a lot of places.
    10b. For a thicker, softer rim, pierce the center of the bialy. This leaves the rim free to expand.
    11. Let the bialys rise for about 10 minutes, or until slightly puffy.
    12. Bake on stones in a 450 F / 230 C oven without steam.
    13. They should cook in 15-20 minutes.

    Topping

    1. Cook the onion and poppy seeds in some oil until the onion is cooked but not browned.
    2. Add a pinch of salt during the last minute or two of cooking.
    3. Let cool.

    Here We Go! Send out for the cream cheese!

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    Bialy artisanal bread baking biga on counter. Bialy artisanal bread baking ingredients. Bialy artisanal bread baking cutting up biga. Bialy artisanal bread baking mixing biga into water.
    Bialy artisanal bread baking mixing biga. Bialy artisanal bread baking mixing biga. Bialy artisanal bread baking preparing for the fountain method. Bialy artisanal bread baking fountain method.
    Bialy artisanal bread baking fountain method. Bialy artisanal bread baking fountain method. Bialy artisanal bread baking fountain method. Bialy artisanal bread baking fountain method.
    Bialy artisanal bread baking dough coming together. Bialy artisanal bread baking dough after a bit. Bialy artisanal bread baking dough in autolyse. Bialy artisanal bread baking dough after autolyse.
    Bialy artisanal bread baking dough being kneaded. Bialy artisanal bread baking finished kneading. Bialy artisanal bread baking dough fermenting. Bialy artisanal bread baking cooking the topping.
    Bialy artisanal bread baking cooking the topping. Bialy artisanal bread baking dough finished fermenting. Bialy artisanal bread baking shaping. Bialy artisanal bread baking a batch finished shaping.
    Bialy artisanal bread baking added the topping. Bialy artisanal bread baking into the oven. Bialy artisanal bread baking half-way baked. Bialy artisanal bread baking second batch -- punctured.
    Bialy artisanal bread baking finished baking. Bialy artisanal bread baking a bunch of bialys.




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