Bialys (from Secrets of a Jewish Baker, George Greenstein)
The name Bialystocker bagels is derived from a town in Poland where
it is said they originated. I once heard them described as unbaked
Real bialys are dense, blistered, and chewy, with a toasted flourlike
taste. They taste best when slathered with cream cheese. Try them
with vegetable cream cheese (see Note). Bialys have a short shelf
life and should be frozen unless consumed the day they are baked.
Bialys can be considered an acquired taste. Give these ugly ducklings
a chance and you may become enamored of them.
2 cups warm water
3 packages active dry yeast
4 teaspoons sugar
6-6.5 cups bread flour
3 teaspoons salt
flour for dusting (preferably rye for added flavor)
oil for greasing the bowl
3 Tablespoons minced onion (see Note)
2 teaspoons poppy seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
pinch of salt
Combine the Topping ingredients and set aside.
In a large bowl sprinkle the yeast over the warm water to soften;
stir to dissolve. Add the sugar, 6 cups flour, and salt. Mix
thoroughly until the dough forms up and comes awayfrom the sides of the bowl.
Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead, adding
small amounts of flour as necessary, for 10-12 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball; place in a large oiled bowl and turn to
coat. Cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Press out all of the
air with your fingers and allow to rise until doubled in size, 20-30 minutes.
Punch down the dough, divide into thirds, roll out under your palms
into ropes, and cut each rope in 5 equal pieces. Roll into balls.
Cover and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Roll out each ball
into a 3.5" circle. If the dough becomes too stiff or shrinks back,
allow it to rest and go on to the next piece. When all are rolled,
start again with the first.
Evenly space the circles on 2 floured or cornmeal-dusted baking pans.
Cover with flour-rubbed cloths and allow to rise until puffy. Make an
indentation in the center of each with 2 fingers of each hand
pressing from the center outward, leaving a 1-inch rim. A shot glass
with a 1-inch flat bottom also works well. Press with a circular
motion. Dribble a bit of the reserved Topping into the hole. Dust
lightly with flour (rye preferred). Cover with cloths and allow to
proof until puffed up.
Bake without steam in a preheated 450F oven for 15-20 minutes; makes 18 bialys.
NOTE: for vegetable creamcheese, dice up small amounts of radish,
cucumber, celery, green onion, or any other vegetables of your
choice.Soften the cream cheese with several teaspoons of seltzer
water. Mix in the chopped vegetables and slather on top of the
bialys. Instead of the minced onion in the Topping ingredients list,
you can use minced onion flakes that have been soaked in water for 2
hours or longer, then the water pressed out.
Note from Carolyn: at the New York Bagel & Bialy Company in Chicago,
bialys are also offered with a schmear of tomato sauce on top, under
a thin square of nicely-browned cheese. I assume the sauce & cheese
are added after the bialy is already baked, and just baked long
enough to set up & brown. It's a great light lunch!