The first time I saw Bialys was in a picture of a New york bakery shop (I believe it is Kossar's) neatly arranged inside a rack. They looked like mini Pizzas to me only to learn that they were not when I read the recipe for this month’s we knead to bake group. A Bialy is a round shaped bread with a depressed middle but not a hole like in doughnuts, and typically filled with cooked onions and sometimes poppy seeds. Bialys is considered to be a close cousin of the Bagels. The difference is while a Bialy is baked, a Bagel is boiled and then baked. The pronunciation of bialys goes like bee-AH-lee.
The name Bialy comes from Bialystocker Kuchen which translates as “bread from Bialystok” which is in Poland. 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. So to make Bialys, 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 like me, you can find neither bread flour nor vital wheat gluten, go ahead and make it with plain flour and use whole wheat for dusting and rolling to get that wonderful chewy crust. This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour.
- Using whole wheat flour for dusting and gave the rolls a wonderful crust for me despite not using bread flour.
- You can use poppy seeds along with onions and also crumbled cottage cheese for the filling.
- You can store in an air tight bin for up to 2 days.
- If the Bialys get cold just microwave it for a few seconds and serve it warm.
- Oven timings will change accordingly.
This is off to We Knead to Bake #5.