Friday, 24 May 2013

Bialys - Rustic Style Roll with a Savory Onion centre - New York Bialys

The Bialy (pronounced bee-AH-lee) maybe thought of as a cousin to a Bagel but is quite different from it. For one thing, a Bialy is baked whereas a Bagel is boiled and then baked. A Bialy is round with a depressed middle, not a hole, and typically filled with cooked onions and sometimes poppy seeds. So it is not shiny on the outside with largish puffy bubbles on the inside. A good Bialy should have a springy soft crumb and a chewy and floury crust. Bialys are best when eaten within 5 to 6 hours of making them.

The name Bialy comes from Bialystocker Kuchen which translates as “bread from Bialystok” which is in Poland. Apparently, Bialys are rarely seen or made in Bialystock these days. 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 you can find neither bread flour nor vital wheat gluten, go ahead and make it with plain flour. You’ll still have very nice Bialys that are slightly softer, that’s all.

Bialys usually have a thin layer of caramelised onions and poppy seeds. Check out this Video on how to shape the Bialys

Ingredients (Adapted from King Arthur Flour

For the dough:
Instant Yeast  1 tsp
Sugar 1 tbsp
Water 11/4 cup
Bread Flour 3 cups
Salt 1 tsp
Flour for dusting

For the Onion Filling:
Oil 1 tbsp
Onions 3 medium, finely chopped
Cumin/Jeera 1.5 tsp 
Salt to taste

Method of Preparation 

1. Add yeast, sugar, salt and flour in a bowl. Give it a mix.

2. Add the warm water slowly. Knead until the dough comes together as a mass and then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. This will help the dough absorb water. 

3. Knead again, adding a little more water or flour (not too much) if you need it, until your dough is smooth and elastic but not sticky.

4. Shape it into a ball and put it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough till it is well coated. Cover and let it rise till about double. This should take about 2 hours (Mine was ready in 45 min, keep checking). If you’re not making the Bialys right away, you can refrigerate the dough overnight at this point. When ready to make them, keep the dough at room temperature for about half an hour and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

5. In the meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the oil in a pan, and add the cumin seeds. When the crackle, add the onions, and sauté over low to medium heat. Sprinkle a little salt and continue sautéing until they become soft and turn golden brown in colour. Keep the caramelised onions aside to cool.

6. Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour and place the dough on it. Divide it into 8 equal pieces and shape each one into a roll by flattening it and then pinching the ends together to form a smooth ball. Place the rolls on a lightly greased baking sheet and cover them with a towel. Let them rise for about one hour (about  1 1/2 to 2 hours for refrigerated dough) till pressing with a finger on the top leaves a dent. Mine were ready in 30 min. 

7. Work on one piece at a time, while you keep the others covered so they don’t dry out. When the rolls are ready, pick them up one at a time. Dip it in a bowl of flour. This step is optional. I loved the rustic look I saw in the video above. If you do not want that, skip the flour dusting.

8. Using your fingers, form the depression in the middle. Hold the roll like a steering wheel with your thumbs in the middle and your fingers around the edges. Pinch the dough between your thumb and fingers, rotating as you go and gradually making the depression wider without actually poking a hole through. If a small hole does appear, do not worry, just join it and keep going. 

9. Remember not to press on the edges, or they will flatten out. Once shaped, you should have a depression about 3” in diameter with 1” of puffy dough around the edge, so your Bialy should be about 4” in diameter. The centre will be like a thin membrane. Prick the centre of the Bialy with a fork so the centre doesn’t rise when baking.

10. Place the shaped dough on a parchment lined (or greased) baking tray leaving about 2 inches space between them. Place the caramelised onion filling in the depressions of each Bialy. 

11. Bake the Bialys at 230C (450F) for about 15 minutes till they’re golden brown in colour. Cool them on a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

This recipe makes 8 largish Bialys.

Baking with the group - We Knead to Bake has been fun as always. Do Check out Aparna's blog for the original post/recipe and other bakers baking with us.

Other Breads baked as part of the group - We Knead to Bake
February    : Classic Croissants