I debated between these and bagels from The Bread Bible by Rose and they won because of their method which is the straight dough and the fact that they had an onion topping. I have a not so small weakness for caramelized onions. There was supposed to be a teaspoon for each bialy but I probably piled a tablespoon on. Oops. If I went according to the recipe, the onions weren't supposed to be that caramelized but I just prefer mine that way.
The dough had so little yeast and took an agonizingly long time to rise. For the second rise, even after 2 hours in a suitably warm oven puffed the tiny balls of dough up barely. I didn't have the patience to wait, or the ability to shush my growling stomach, for them to double in size so I proceeded with the recipe, hoping that it wouldn't end up as bread bricks.
I've never tried a bialy before but I do think they need more salt. Rose's bread recipes always seem to have too little. Does anyone else feel the same way? Smitten Kitchen seems to think so too.
A bialy is very much like a bagel- dense and chewy. It was great warm and slathered with salted butter. The butter melts into a warm puddle and then you take a bite with some sweet caramelized onions. There's hearty chew, soft onions, crisp crust...
Adapted from The Bread Bible
Adapted from The Bread Bible
Yield: Six 4 x 1 1/4-inch high bialys or six flat 5 x 1-inch high bialys
1/2 teaspoon (1.6 grams) instant yeast
1 teaspoon (6.6 grams) salt *I would use more, maybe double
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7.25 ounces/206 grams) water, at room temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons (1.5 ounces, 43 grams) onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon poppy seeds *I left them out since I didn't have any
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper to taste
Mix the dough. In the bowl, whisk together the flour and the yeast, then whisk in the salt (this keeps the yeast from coming in direct contact with the salt which would kill it). With the dough hook, on low speed (#2 if using a KitchenAid), gradually add the water, mixing for about 1 minute or until the flour mixture is moistened. Raise the speed to medium (#4 KitchenAid) and continue mixing for 7 minutes. The dough should clean the bowl but be soft and elastic. Add a little extra flour or water if necessary. (The dough will weigh about 17.75 ounces/506 grams).
Let the dough rise. Place the dough in a 1 1/2-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. Allow the dough to rise, ideally at 75 to 80°F, for 1 1/2 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. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (about 3 ounces, 84 grams each). 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. Set it on a floured baking sheet or tray, pinched side down. (The rounds will be 2 1/2 inches by 1 1/2 inches high.) Flour the tops and cover with plastic wrap.
Allow the bialys to rise for about 2 hours at 75 to 80°F or until almost doubled; when pressed lightly in the center, they should keep the impression. 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. If you want to be on the safe side, make the hole anyway.
Make the onion-poppy seed filling. 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. Remove from the heat and add the poppy seeds, salt, and pepper to taste. Cool.
Make the craters for the filling. Holding each piece of dough with both hands, with your thumbs in the middle and almost touching, pinch the center of the dough tightly between your thumbs and first two fingers and stretch the dough to 4 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter, forming a crater in the center. Place it on the lined baking sheet and spoon 1 teaspoon of onion-poppy seed filling into the center.
Bake the bialys. 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. Toss a handful of ice cubes into the sheet pan on the oven floor and immediately shut the door. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes or until pale golden and mottled with brown spots (an instand-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 211°F.)
Cool the bialys. 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.
Variation: To make crisper flat bialys, brush the tops with a mixture of 1 large egg white beaten with 1/2 teaspoon water and sprinkle with poppy seeds (use 3 times the weight of the egg white in poppy seeds). Cover with plastic wrap and press down on the bialys with a sheet pan or cookie sheet to make 5 1/2- to 6-inch rounds. Remove the plastic wrap and use the wide end of a chopstick to make about 12 holes in each bialy. Bake as above, but add a few minutes to that bialys turn golden brown.