Friday, July 15, 2016

Babes Bake Bialys

As Kitchen of the Month for July, I challenged all the Babes to make bialys, a bagel-cousin from Bialystok, Poland.  This is only a one-step process – baking only – and instead of a hole, the bialy has a depression that can be filled with onions, cheese, or whatever you choose.
For an informative discussion on bialys, check out this link from King Arthur Flour:

Just for you, I auditioned two different recipes.  One uses a starter/poolish, 
the other uses a preferment.  I’ve also provided a few links to other recipes in case you want to try a different approach.  Some recipes don’t have any pre-baking step.

I did encounter a puzzling problem.   For my first batch of bialys, I put two baking sheets in the same oven.  The bialys on one sheet came out perfectly; however, the ones on the second sheet sort of exploded (or popped).   
They were all treated the same way beforehand, so it’s a mystery to me.  For the second batch, baked in two separate ovens, they all exploded.  ????   In doing some Internet research, I discovered this has happened to others, but there is no consensus on why.

Another thing:  the first recipe produces bialys that are chewy with a more bread-like texture, 
while the second recipe creates a bialy that is chewy with neat holes.  
 Both are delicious.  (And make great sandwiches.)
So, for the July challenge, choose your recipe, be creative if you like, and enjoy this easier-to-make cousin of the bagel.  (Other links featuring history and other recipes are listed at the end.)

Recipe #1 from Elizabeth Faulkner


  • Prep Time: 30 mins + 3 hours resting time
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Serving Size: 16 bialys


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 onion minced, per bialy
  • 17 ounces bread flour
  • 9 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 ounces starter or poolish*
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 ounces warm water
  • 14 1/2 ounces cold water


*Make the starter or poolish the night before with 1/2 cup flour, 1/3 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast. Mix together and leave out at room temperature overnight.
  1. Combine 2 ounces of warm water with the yeast to dissolve. Combine all dough ingredients together except the salt.
  2. When dough comes together, knead for 6 minutes.
  3. Add salt and knead for another 2 minutes. Set aside to rise for 2 hours.
  4. Roll into a log on a flour dusted surface. Scale out dough at 3 ounces a ball (about 16 bialys total) 
  5. Press each out to shape without overworking and leaving 1" lip around edge.
  6. Proof dough balls (allow to rise again) in warm spot covered with a clean dish towel for an hour or until soft and airy.
  7. Sauté onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until light caramel in color but at higher heat. Make center depression in each one and fill with the filling.
  8. Sprinkle bialys lightly with poppy seeds and salt.
  9. Bake at 450 degree oven, preferably on a pizza stone, for about 12-15 minutes.

Recipe #2 adapted from Hot Bread Kitchen



Pâte Fermentée
120 g lukewarm water
2/3 teaspoon active dry yeast
180 g bread flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Mix all ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer until combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.   Refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours. 
320 g lukewarm water
464 g bread flour
150 g pâte fermentée (risen and deflated and cut into walnut-sized pieces)
¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
(Prepare a filling while the dough rises)
Combine water and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Mix for 2 minutes.  Let rest for 20 minutes.
Add the pâte fermentée, yeast, and salt and mix on low speed until everything is completely combined.  Increase the speed to medium/medium-high, adjusting water and/or flour as necessary to get a smooth dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Place in a lightly greased and floured bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proof at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 90 minutes.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 12 equal pieces (about 80g each) and form each piece into a small bun.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.  Beginning with the first ball, flatten each one into an approximately 4” disk.
Place disks on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 1” apart.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let proof until they are very soft and hold an indentation when touched, about 60 to 90 minutes.
Heat a baking stone in a 500° oven for at least 30 minutes.
Uncover the bialys and create a depression in the center of each disk.  Place filling in the depression.
Slide the parchment onto the baking stone, and bake until golden, about 12-15 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool for a few minutes.
Serve immediately.  Leftovers can be stored in an airtight plastic bag for up to 2 days.
Note #1:  I did not use all the pâte fermentée for this recipe.  Possibly you can use it to make a second batch.  Perhaps one of the Babes did just that.  For my part, my neglected starter grew fuzzy bits on top and had to be discarded.  Next time, I will put the extra in the freezer if I don't get back to it.

Note #2:  there was a heated discussion about salt.  While both recipes use kosher salt, Hot Bread Kitchen specifies Diamond Crystal brand. There is a difference in the processing of each type of salt, so they each have a slightly different texture, which can effect the saltiness of the final product.   Usually, the baker makes an adjustment to the recipe depending on which brand of salt is used.  Well, I didn't, and, frankly, I didn't notice any negative effects to the final product.

Other links of interest:

(The inspiration for this month’s challenge comes from The Hot Bread Kitchen: Artisanal Baking from Around the World.)
Would you like to be a Bread Baking Buddy?  

Make some bialys and share your experience and photos by emailing me a link to your blog or, if you don't have a blog, email me a photo and a brief description.  Send to jahunt22 [at] gmail [dot] com by July 29.  Once you have posted, I will send you a Buddy Badge for baking along with us.  Expect a roundup of all of the BBBuddies posts a few days after the close of submissions.