Growing up, I never gave bialys much thought. The bagel shop where I briefly worked in high school had us front-end people take bagels off the machine rollers, pinch together the centers, schmear them with the onion filling and leave them on a tray for the professionals to bake, and that was about far as I’d considered them — a bagel variant. Oh, and that they were excellent toasted with salted butter.
It was reading The Bialy Eaters, Mimi Sheraton’s pursuit of the chewy, onion-topped kuchen from Bialystok, Poland to Paris, Argentina and Miami Beach, Florida, that was a turning point for me. Although though the book is true to the subject at hand — bialys — the subtext is really about the narratives from the scattered remnants of Bialystok — only a handful survived the pogroms and Holocaust — recalling what they can about the rolls they used to make and eat. I hadn’t realized exactly how scarce they were, and became a little obsessed.
If you’re not from New York City, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. You’ve probably heard of bagels, I’m sure, but bialys, often sold in the same shops, but usually relegated to a neglected lower shelf, rarely get much love. As well, most of them shouldn’t, as the state of the current bialy in New York City, is often less than ideal — most are spongy with weak indentations, and if you get more than two scrap of onion in the center, you’ve beaten the odds.
As you can see, bialys are crying out to be made at home, and out of the blue, likely due to a rare combination of deadlines having been met and having already gone to the gym, I decided Thursday was the day. I was thrilled to discover that Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bread Bible had a version, and that she learned her recipe and technique from a baker at Kossar’s. Because they didn’t require boiling before baking, they were especially easy to make. And although I will never know if they do the originals any justice, we thought they were perfect — chewy and soft, onions caramelized and impossible to resist.
One year ago: Swiss Easter Rice Tart
Two years ago: Rich Buttermilk Waffles and Arugula Ravioli
Adapted from The Bread Bible
The dough of bagels and bialys is very similar — both are chewy and intense — but bagels have a crisp outer shell that comes from boiling them before they’re baked, and bialys have a soft, chewy crust. It has a springy soft crumb and a floury crust, and they don’t keep long at all. You should either make them for the day you want them or pop them quickly into the freezer so they taste as fresh as possible when you’re ready for them.
Yield: Six 4 x 1 1/4-inch high bialys or six flat 5 x 1-inch high bialys
2 cups (10.5 ounces/300 grams) King Arthur high-gluten bread flour, preferably, or bread flour
1/2 teaspoon (1.6 grams) instant yeast
1 teaspoon (6.6 grams) salt (the more authentic bialys I have had use a bit more salt, so feel free to dial it up if you like a saltier roll)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7.25 ounces/206 grams) water, at room temperature
Onion-Poppy Seed Filling
2 1/4 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons (1.5 ounces, 43 grams) onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon poppy seeds (I love poppy seeds on a bialy, but this did seem more than I was used to; I might dial it back next time)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper to taste
1. 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).
2.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.
3. 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.
4. 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. (I went longer, going for a deeper caramelization but you should cook them to your taste.) Remove from the heat and add the poppy seeds, salt, and pepper to taste. Cool.
5. Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 475°F 30 minutes before baking. have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it, and a sheet pan on the floor of the oven, before preheating.
6. 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. (My pinching skills are not up to par and my centers puffed a bit. No biggie, but make sure you get a good firm pinch in there!) Place it on the lined baking sheet and spoon 1 teaspoon of onion-poppy seed filling into the center.
7. 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 (this helps make your oven closer to a professional bread oven; the steam helps form a crust), 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.)
8. 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 (a favorite in New York, I did not do this but might next time), 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.
229 comments on bialys
Would I be able to simply knead the bread if I don’t have a KitchenAid with dough-hook? I really want to make these.
Miranda — You can definitely knead and mix this, or any other bread dough, by hand. You should go for a few minutes longer as we are, unfortunately, less efficient than machines!
Oh – I love bialys and my Jewish mother from Brooklyn living in California would love me if I made these for her (esp. if I served them with pickled herring!). Thanks.
thanks!! my boyfriend LOVES bialys. he likes to eat them with tomato slices and hummus on top. i need to make these for him!
oh, my housemate has been tempting me with his bialy-based lunches, and now here you are!
by the way, I’m still eating the leftovers of the cream cheese bundt cake, which is en route to become an all-time favorite! thanx for the receipes!
We made those in culinary school and, living in Texas, we do not see them often. They were wonderful, and your’s look great!
We used to get bialys when I was little, but they were always plain. I think the caramelized onions sound like an excellent addition.
This is awesome, just this morning I was thinking about how much I would love to make bialys.
Bagels only better! How cool!
I love bialys, have always liked them better than bagels, and haven’t had a good one in years. I used to think they were a cross between a bagel and an english muffin, because they have to be split and toasted. So perfect with lox and cream cheese. Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration to try making them!
Hurrah for bialys! I’m an equal opportunity bagel-ist, so I give bialys their rightful place in my Sunday bagel rotation. It’s wonderful to be able to just make them at home. Thanks for the recipe!
I don’t think my boyfriend will believe that there is anything better in the world than bagels. Maybe we will just have to give them a try! They look wonderful.
These are awesome. For some reason i was under the impression that you had to boil them, but maybe that is becuase Noah’s Bagels sells them right next to bagels… I attempted bagels and the dense texture is hard to ascertain. Perhaps I should just switch to bialys. Anyhow, I would try different toppings.
Perhaps adding a strong cheese or even using white poppy seeds, which I discovered at the indian bizarre. I do love theme and variation.
Wow! Great post and great website.
I hope to learn from you!
I love bialys, but I’m never quite sure how to eat them. Because they appear in bagel-related situations, I always want one split and filled with cream cheese (and lox, and capers, and red onions, and…) but they’re too awkward for that. So I just chew on them. I’m in the pro-poppy camp–the more the merrier. And bring on them caramelized onions…
Noah’s doesn’t boil their bagels, it’s always been my impression. My friend used to work their. They just spritz ’em with water, then bake.
I’ve never heard of anyone making bialys but these look terrific. I haven’t had one in years and you’re starting me to think….. maybe I could try these too. I like them so much better than bagels.
What a coincidence! I just unearthed my little bag of poppy seeds and The Bread Bible to make some bialys! Yours look great, Deb :)
Yum! this looks so intimidating to me but the look delicious and so pretty!
LOOOOOVE bialys around here.
I visited Long Island years ago and fell in love with these things. I had never seen them here in Ohio and still haven’t. They are so yummy. Good to know they’re good to make at home.
I haven’t had a bialy in years, but remember well the bagel shop in Park Slope near my grandparents’ house. We used to go every Sunday for bagels and bialys, but as a kid I didn’t like the onions and would pick them off. When I read Mimi Sheraton’s book, I thought about those bialys. Now I’m thinking about making them.
I’m ashamed that I haven’t heard of bialys before, but they look delicious! Plus, I’m nuts for anything with poppy seeds. I’ll be trying this recipe soon.
I have never heard of these before. I so intrigued!!
Thank you! I love bialys. It’s actually the main thing I miss from New York. I used to get them toasted with cream cheese and tomato. I’m sure not the traditional way to eat them but the onion in the bialy made it so good.
i love you for posting this. i just ate my last bagel from the freezer this morning.
bialys are one of my favorite breakfasts, and pennsylvania is seriously devoid of their goodness.
i will be making and freezing =).
Huh, I’ve always considered bialys to be an inferior cousin to the bagel, but perhaps I’ve just never had a good one! Thanks for inspiring me to revisit!
You’re right…I’ve never heard of these. But they look & sound amazing and of course I must try one now :) You never disappoint..thank u for your wonderful blog!
Thank you so much for posting this. I think we miss bialys as much as we miss NYC bagels, and since my husband is on a baking kick of late, I’m forwarding this to him now. :)
These are on my list of things to bake, now, thanks! They sound delicious, and have the added benefit of not letting things fall through a hole in the middle of the bagel. ;)
My gosh, those look incredible. I’m from New York (though not the city) but now live in the southeast; I’m reclaiming my Yankee food culture little by little, from lox and cream cheese to black-and-white cookies and, now, to bialys. I can’t wait to try these!
I’ve never heard of these, but they look delicious! I can’t wait to make them!
I, being the mid-western native I am, have never had a bialys. I’ve read about them in books, seen them on television shows, dreamed about hitting a real-live bagel shop or Eastern European bakery and stuffing myself into oblivion. But for some reason it never occured to me to try making them at home. And trust me when I say that is an unusual ommitance. I will remedy that this afternoon.
You just reminded me of my favorite sandwich of all time, forever and ever, amen! There was a bagel shop in Orange County that had a Reuben on an onion-smothered bialy that would just make me die and go to heaven sixteen times by the time I was done. The shop is gone now, and I am living in New Mexico anyway, but I could make these! You just made my day!
Oh man I haven’t had a bialy in forever. In high school the student government used to deliver bagels and bialys to our first hours from this fantastic shop across the street. They’d come in big paper bags still hot, and I’d dig through the bag to find the ONE bialy they’d throw in the mix. (Everyone else would be scrambling for the cinnamon raisin bagels. Pass.) I gained a crap ton of weight from those carbs and my breath would be gross for the rest of the day but no matter to me, I already had a boyfriend. ;)
I’ve never heard of these (I’m in NY, but not the city- although my grandparents live in SI so I’ve been there a lot) but they looks great!
Wow! I’ve always been dubious about bagelmaking at home, but these bialys look pretty perfect. We were just walking by Kossar’s yesterday (closed on the sabbath, of course).
I’m with #14–David. How do you toast these without all of the onion toppings just spilling out and burning in your toaster? Do you split them? There’s an artisan bagel shop near my house that sells bialys. Maybe I”ll just go there sometime and order one toasted with butter and see how they do it….
i’m afraid to say i have never had a bialy before and i never gave them a second thought. now i’m very intrigued.
You’re right, I’ve never heard of these. They sure look delicious though.
I tried to leave a comment but don’t seem to be able to do it. Just wanted to say that you are a great inspiration for another foodie-who-loves-to-cook-and-write like me who also has a tiny NYC kitchen! :)
Yes! finally managed to post comment! :))
oh wow, these must have been really fun to make!
I’m intrigued. I’ve seen these in bagel shops before and never really gave them a second thought, but now I’m curious.
oh yum yum yum! I love bialys! And thank you for putting the measurements in weights – that’s a big help.
I am from NYC and LOVE bialys… My only question is what the insides of these look like. My association is that bialys should have a much more open crumb than bagels — almost like the nooks and crannies of an English muffin. Is that how these turn out?
I may just try this recipe as is because the bialys look so good, but any thoughts on using whole wheat flour? How about sprouted grains? Has anyone found any kind of sprouted flour in a store and not had to order it online?
These bilays look totally delicious! Mmm, I think I need to make these, um, IMMEDIATELY. You’ve totally got me craving them now.
Yummy!!!!!!!! I can´t wait to make them, thanks to share this with us, as I have never heard of Bilays before!
They look fantastic- but I’m guessing you are being facetious when you say that the 3/4 teaspoon poppy seeds are too much and you might “dial it back next time” :)
Oooh, I love new bakey ideas. Thanks!
How funny I just had my first bialy yesterday. I can’t vouch for their authenticity but on the weekends in Portland Kenny and Zukes has them. I am in LOVE.
Abcgirl — Excellent question! So, Mimi Sheraton says in her bialy book that whatever schmear you use is supposed to go across the top, not split and in the inside, which pretty much blew my bialy-loving mind when I read that. I’ve tried it, though, and even if it is the “right” way, I cannot get into it. I split mine.
Also necessary to note: My pinching skills are not up to par and the centers puffed. No effect taste-wise, but you should see more of a pressed-in center, so if split horizontally, the onion often stays with the bottom half and the top almost looks like a bagel ring.
I like to toast mine whole and split them while warm, to keep the insides soft and chewy (it also crisps the outside, again, not “correct” but freakin’ delicious). Any and all onion bits lost in the split should be summarily scooped back onto the now-buttered or cream cheese-ed surfaces. [P.S. Eating one like this right now and guuuuh, so good.]
Tobey — Totally not facetious! See how blue the centers of my bialys look? That’s not what they’re supposed to look like. I mean, love love love poppy seeds but I think a smaller amount would look more “authentic.”
I learned about bialys at a little coffee shop in Ashland, Oregon; the owner was from Brooklyn and makes the best bagels you can buy in southern Oregon (not the same as Manhattan, but perfectly acceptable). When I worked there one summer, I found a copy of The Bialy Eaters on a bookshelf in the shop.
Now I live in L.A., and one of my favorite places to eat is Nate & Al’s deli. I have no idea what their bagels taste like, because I always order a bialy…
The bialys from my childhood were NEVER brushed with egg whites. They were always a “flat” (as opposed to glossy) finish, and also had a ubiquitous coating of white flour.
I could do a dissertation on bialys as I have done on bagels in the past.
Oh, I love Bailys; thanks for posting this!
One hint I learned from a fabulous Saveur bagel recipe years ago is that adding a bit of vital wheat gluten to the flour can allow you to use lower-gluten flours without skewing the recipe. IIRC, the proportion is 1-2 t gluten per cup of flour.
i’d forgotten that i love bialys!! not many bakeries have them and i’d never even thought it was possible to make them properly, this looks excellent (in every sense of the word)! what pleasant surprise!
I JUST bought bialys after getting slammed with a major craving. I know they won’t be as good as these–I can already tell that the ones i bought are too light and fluffy, not chewy.
There used to be a bagel place in Irvington, NJ that sold the best bialys. We would go there after visiting my grandparents and buy bags full of them. Then we had to eat them fast-toasted with salted butter-before they went stale.
I don’t know how you do it, but every recipe looks better than the next!
I’m of the “never heard of them’ school, but I’m happy to learn! I like the idea that they are in the bagel family but not as tough and don’t need boiling. Six minute bake time sounds great too!
I’m in CA where there are many Noah’s Bagles shops around. Frankly, their bagels don’t have the texture of any bagel I’d ever eaten before; they are too soft. It’s not a bad thing, I like them, but they didn’t have the dense chewy texture of the bagels I had eaten when I lived in the DC area. When I read the description of bialys it brought to mind my impression of Noah’s bagels. Are the textures similar in your opinion?
I was born in Bialystok and I live here for over 23 years… I`m totally suprised. I really don`t know what to say… Bialys here, in my city, don`t have such lovely name. We usually named them ‘cebularze’, ‘cebulaczki’ (this names are taken from ‘cebula’ which means in polish ‘onion’). They are usually made (in my family!) when somehow we have to much yeast dought. ;-) They are casual… I`ve never thought that their have so long and complicated history. I`m glad that they are so popular! :-)
And you know, when I prepare bialys (or something like bialys) I put onion filling into the bun not only on the top. Bo it is my idea… But also tasty! :-)
So here I am, taking a five minute break from WORKING on a Sunday – boo – and I find this post. Those bialys. Those bialys. Those bialys! How am I supposed to get any work done AT ALL with those bialys floating around my head?!? CA is great in a lot of ways, but finding a decent bagel is next to impossible (Noah’s? Blech, no.). And I doubt I have ever had a proper bialy, although my college roomate has had me coveting them for the last 20 years, ever since she flew some back to school from the East coast. I’m a free woman as of next weekend, and I will. have. bialys.
Your blog makes bialys attainable for many bakers. We appreciate your use of our bread flour and the story of how you improved as a bialy maker!
I have never lived one day of my life in NYC and I was brought up on bialys. First in Los Angeles as a kid, and now in Boston as an adult. LOVE THEM. Love the caramelized onion and teeny bit of complementary poppy seed. Love them sliced with a schmear and some nova. Love them with unsweetened butter melted on the bottom. Love them plain.
And now I will back them. I do make bagels, which are a PITA, and I have other bialy recipes to compare to, but if you swear by these, I’m IN.
I had never heard of bialys until this post! Still have no idea how to pronounce them. lol Thank you so much for educating me! They look delicious. :)
Yum! We’re in Vermont now (originally NY) and we can get decent Bialys, but not great ones! We might have to make these.
For MommyAmy – it’s pronounced Bee-allys (like the girls name Ally with an s)… hope that helps.
Hey Tone – Wondering why you’re creeped out by a comment from one of the King Arthur Flour bakers. I’m a baker/blogger there – very cool employee-owned company, and we totally love to bake… nothing wrong with that, eh? Deb, TX so much for this recipe – I’ve made bialys in the past and have never been pleased. Your pics look more like what I was going for, so I’ll try it again. Haven’t had a good bialy since 1974. PJH
You make the coolest things! I’ve never even heard of a bialy before – can’t wait to make one!
Oh, my, although I’ll not be baking much very soon, being temporarily one-handed after hand surgery last week, I’m glad you posted this so that I could sit here dreaming a dream of bialys. My last bialys were from, of all places, the Whole Foods near Dupont Circle in D.C., and were surprisingly close to the ones I got 15 years ago from a bakery on Main Street in Flushing. I had little trouble somewhat bashfully finishing off three or four for dinner. Sometimes split, sometimes whole, always with butter. The things I sacrifice living in SLC!
Why have a bialy when you could have an H&H bagel? That was always my thought….And, now, in LA, it’s come down to lousy bagels unless one wants to go to Barney’s where there’s a v. fancy Barney Greengrass (an oxymoron?) and buy not-quite-cooked H&H bagels for not-quite-a-song. Bialys in LA? I saw a couple once in a Starbucks, and they looked like they’d been made on Ellis Island, circa more than a century ago. I passed (obviously), but will try your recipe, which makes my mouth water. Thanks!
SO fantastic – I haven’t had a good bialy since I moved out of NY and am so thankful! Can’t wait to make these!
Mommy Amy and Eliza — Actually, I pronounce them differently, the way Merriam-Webster suggests: bē-ˈa-lē
or “bee-ah-lee”. Hope that helps. [P.S. I had to hack the m-w.com site just to get those pronunciation codes in there! Quite pleased with self, actually.]
Poswix — I never expected an actual Bialystoker to comment, and am thrilled to find one out there. Thanks for the name and suggestions.
King Arthur comments — Thanks, but I’m going to be completely honest: My very kind and fewer-typo-making husband typed up this recipe for me from that book and I hadn’t realized that the recipe insisted on King Arthur Bread Flour. (You’ll recognize the recipes I type myself as having typo after typo in them!) Now, I love King Arthur Bread Flour and use it at home, but I might have added that I suspect many types of bread flour will work, so it is only fair for me to update with that comment. I don’t like to prop any individual brand over others on this site unless I am sure that no other will do.
Hey PJ.. I just got a “fill in the blank” type automatic response vibe from the message: “Your blog makes (blank) attainable for many bakers. We appreciate your use of our bread flour and the story of how you improved as a (blank) maker!”
It just seemed insincere and.. creepy.
It’s like you read my mind sometimes.
In our freezer section of Publix her in Florida, they have the only bagels I like, Ray’s from New York (I had one for breakfast today).
I saw these other things called bialys and wondered what they were! So now I will try them and see if they are delish. Alas, I will not make my own, because as I’ve been told by New Yorkers about the bagels, it’s the water in NY that makes them the best :)
Good to see a recipe for them. I’m in Portland, OR and one of our local grocers makes them daily. They are packed with onions and delicious. I don’t have anything to compare them too; having never been to New York for a proper bialy. I have a feeling these would hold their own with an NYC bialy.
If you ever decide to visit Portland keep your eyes open for a New Seasons Market and you won’t be disappointed.
OK, I’m probably not going to make these (although I’ve made more recipes from your site than ANY other one I read), but I LOVE the photos! Did you take a food photo class? Or have you just picked it up along the way?
I can’t believe you posted this! It’s great! We JUST heard of bialys last night and I was going to embark on a mission to find some here in Utica. Now I can make them! Thanks!
I’m from a family of New Yorkers and I love me a good bialy! Living in DC, I was going to add that Whole Foods carries them with their bagels in their bakery section. But I see Lenore already said that. They are a pretty good example of what a bialy tastes like for those of you who haven’t had one (or even heard of them) before.
Thanks for the recipe, Deb. Cannot wait to try it out!
deb, i also split my bialys. always have and always will.
as for anyone else wondering how to toast them: i split them right above the onion-y goodness (so you get one solid half, one half with a hole) and then you toast them flat (not upright).
Fantastic, informative post as always :)
Bialys….delicious! If you’ve ever in Detroit (though admittedly, not a popular destination), there is an amazing bagel place called (what else) New York Bagel, which makes a square bialy called a “New Yorker.” PLENTY of onion and poppy, and delicious just out of the oven…or split and made into a sandwich.
I haven’t thought of these in years. I do remember they were delicous – a cross between a bagel and the onion boards my aunt brought from Boston. I may have to try these right after Passover (and ship a couple to my dad)!
Can’t wait to try these … I’ve never had them before, but they look delicious and completely devourable. I’ll be using King Arthur Flour – it rocks and the KAF bakers rock!
I looked at those pictures and thought, bialys? Those should be flatter! Thanks for the modification to make them so. :)
Also, I pronounce it as bee-ah-lee too.
I am a bialy-over-bagel-any-day-of-the-week kind of girl, but it has never occurred to me to even try making them at home. This is very exciting, especially since the ones at my corner coffee cart leave a little something to be desired. If you find out about this place in brooklyn, please pass along the name so I can visit!
Hi, I have honored you with Lemonade reward. My blog is in croatian language, but I am following yours, and enyojing your recipes:)
mmmmm. i LOVE bialys, and have been sadly missing them every single morning since moving away from NYC. i’m excited to make these!!
*gasp!* As a child, I would be sad when the bialys would be second-citizen to the bagels at the grocery store. Finally, someone who treats them right! I can’t wait to try this recipe.
Hi, Deb! Quick question about the flat version: at what stage do you smush them with the baking sheet? After stretching into a ball? After forming the crater in the center? And where do you poke the 12 holes–around the edges? Ok, so that was more like 4 quick questions. Sorry. Icebox cupcakes were completely inhaled last weekend, though!
Ah, this is so great! I grew up on the west coast where we had Noah’s Bagels…not the greatest representation of the bagel (they were giant and had no hole) but the best we had. My mom used to buy bialys from them which I actually remember to be pretty decent, but I’m curious to make a real one and compare the two.
These look so good!
I am writing from Poland. Was in Bia?ystok few days ago and had those in real!
It is great to see something from my homeland on one of my favourite blogs. THANKS A LOT. Some good energy for start of the week.
They look so soft and moist! I’ve never tried one, but I may just ahve to make these :)
I’ve been lurking on your site for quite a while (sometimes unable to get the ingredients you call for because I’m living in Germany at the moment! Boo!). As a native New Yorker, I am now determined to try your bialy recipe–there’s a ton of good bread here, but nothing exactly like a bialy. I’m also intrigued by the Swiss Easter Rice Tart (I actually just started my own blog and posted about Switzerland–cheese in particular–myself, so I’m on a roll!). Your site is fantastic–I often look to it for inspiration before heading out to the market. I like funny and food together.
My affair with bialys was brief…too brief. My wonderful Jewish uncle from Skokie introduced our family to them in the 1990s. My Dad would always bring some back with him after a visit to Uncle Harry’s to our home in Central Illinois. Wow, they were fabulous. It was soon after that we could buy them at the grocery store, but that did not last for very long. Unsure of the reason. Thanks for a stroll down memory lane.
Deb…….I love a good bialy. Having lived and worked in the Big Apple I grew fond of these and now realize just how much I miss them. Your picture with the caramelized onions is what did it.
Thanks for bringing back fond memories. Now, I’ve got to add these to my list of things that need to be thoroughly investigated. YUM
these look lovely, and i’m missing a taste of my new york home out here in oregon. but a best-eaten-day-of brunch food and a 5 hour prep time is a difficult combo — can the dough be refrigerated at some point towards the end of the process to allow for a hot breakfast at breakfast time? or will that ruin some essential bialy characteristics?
Just about any bread dough can be refridgerated at any point in the prep, before the first rise, after the first rise, second rise, etc. All you need to do is get it back to room temperature when you take them out and then continue from wherever you left off — about to deflate, in need of a rise or whatnot.
The only reason I, personally, don’t do this more often is that it always takes an hour or two to get doughs back to room temperature. In that hour or two, I could have started the recipe from the beginning! But, it does safe you a bit of work the second day. And a longer rise always leads to a better-developed flavor.
JS — I would assume you do this right before you bake them. I haven’t tried this method but when I saw it in the book, I figured it was worth mentioning for those more loyal to flat, crispier bialys. Do let us know how it goes if you try it.
Another classic NY food that I didn’t realize was such a regional specialty until I left the area. We always got these from our usual “bagel place” on Saturday mornings. My dad would even eat his with strawberry jam (ew). Unfortunately (well, not that unfortunate) my freezer is full to bursting right now, so there’s no way I could possibly store the leftovers from this recipe. It will have to wait. You must have a gigantic freezer, or some very lucky neighbors.
Even though I grew up in NJ I never really understood bialys growing up–they were always those things that weren’t as good as bagels. It wasn’t until later in life that I came to appreciate them as their own, unique and wonderful thing. Thank you for sharing a recipe!! Awesome!
This makes us miss the East coast even more. We can’t even find a good bagel here in LA, let alone a bialy. *sigh*
Thank you, thank you! I used to live on these from a bakery next to my house when I lived in Vermont. I credit them to my late 20s weight gain actually so maybe I shouldn’t be so excited;) Since moving to the mid-west I cannot get good food anywhere nevermind a good Baily. I asked someone once and they looked at me like I had two heads. I am so excited to try this out, they look amazing. Thanks one more time :)
Here in Texas the kolache is very popular, served at conferences and meetings instead of donuts or bagels. What I love about kolaches is the super-salty dough – yum! I assume these are different names for essentially the same food? Can’t wait to try this recipe (with lotssss of salt)!
THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I love Bialys but live in Houston where they are no where to be found!
However… I am trying to stick to whole-wheat flours – can you advise how to substitute all or at least some of the white flour with whole-wheat while preserving the authentic taste and texture at least to some degree?
Wow, sounds really good, I have to try it!
A shiksa who grew up in Scarsdale, NY and now living in bialy-free Hanover, NH says THANKS for the bialy recipe. Grew up eating these toasted with butter. Fabulous. I heart NY.
Yum! These bring back so many memories :-)
These are making my mouth water!
Makes me wish I could eat wheat! I fondly remember my Schmear bagels…
To Jen: I was thinking the same thing in regards to the Byalis was similiar to the Kolache. Only one way to find out, have my husband take me to NYC so I can do a proper comparison.
Those look really good! I love baking things, so maybe I will have to try this recipe. Bagels are a fun project, too, as well as soft pretzels. Mmmmmmm. Arrg. Why must I study for a math exam tomorrow when I could bake! *.*
I don’t know if you know of beer rocks? These bialys sort of remind me of beer rocks, minus all onions and the ingredients are folded inside the dough. My family makes a bread called beer rocks (usually with frozen dough since it is fast and comes in pre-made rolls*, but we also use actual beer bread) and then we cook up sausage, flatten the now risen rolls, and put a dollop of sausage inside it. Then they’re turned into rolls again, let sit, and bake for a while. They’re awesome with mustard. Bialys could probably be made the same way, that way there’s not as much danger of the topping falling off/disintegrating while eating it. Also there may be room for more of the mixture.
*and yes, I know store bought bread is horrible most of the time and frozen bread dough ought to be horrible, but what the heck. It works and it is actually fairly decent. No substitute for real bread though.
Hmn….these almost sound exactly like green onion buns, a Chinese bakery food. Here in the San Gabriel Valley of California, Chinese bakeries are plentiful, and sell all sorts of delicious Asian baked goods, ranging from the “milk butter” bun (a bun with a creamy, buttery filling that is hard and crumbly and possibly contains coconut milk) to the previously mentioned green onion bun. This is basically a typical Chinese bun, topped with tons of grease and green onions, which are in some sort of thick non-sweet butter.
These bialys look delicious. I apologize for going off topic but I am trying to get back to the cream cheese pound cake in a bundt pan. I can’t seem to retrieve it. I tried going to the post itself (continued after jump is broken), tried your index (the link just won’t open), tried google index (still won’t open) and wonder what the problem could be. Any ideas? Usually when I see an exciting recipe I copy and paste to write mail and send it to myself so I can have a hard copy of just the recipe. I didn’t copy while I was reading it since I had to go buy some of the ingredients. Rats! Would someone please advise if they too are having trouble with retrieving older recipes?
These are beautiful and definitely tempting to make! Your blog is way too full of amazing recipes–getting…overwhelmed…by…options! Thanks for always continuing to impress with your quality of posts.
I believe I speak for every reader of Smitten Kitchen when I say I can’t get enough of you “obsessions”. Keep ’em comin’! (please)
AWESOME POST! I as well love my bialys. I never thought about making them but maybe I’ll give it a try. My wife never understood why I raved and raved about this “bagel”…..but now she knows. There is a great place here in Chicago that does a good job with bialys. Its called New York Bagel and Bialys…go figure!
You’re right–I’m not from New York, and I’ve never heard of these. They look really good though.
Ohh I love your blog. Its so great to hear about foods that are new and interesting. I have a love of bagels, and am just getting into yeast cookery, so will have to try these
I never gave bialys much thought either because I hated the onion taste (especially when I was young). I’m a bagel girl myself. But, your bialys do look very authentic!
Linda — Not sure what is causing the trouble. The links and page are up/loading/working just fine. See here.
Just took the bialys out of the oven. They came out great! Didn’t have poppy seed so I used black sesame seeds which added a nice flavor. They are not like the oversized ones you normally see but i like the smaller size. I will double the batch next time. Also looking for a flagel ( flat, thin bagel) recipe, I guess similar to the flat bialy.
Thanks for the post. Great blog!
If you are from New York City, you might sometimes make wrong assumptions about the provincialism of the outside world.
I grew up eating these in Phoenix. They’re awesome. Thanks for the recipe.
My presumption was not in regards to feeling that the rest of the country is provincial — I think you read me wrong. It was because, as this comment section reflects, a lot of people I speak to outside the city have never heard of them, and it seemed silly to discuss them as if they were something eveyone knew and loved.
You can get bialys in Eugene, Oregon at a lovely place called Humble Bagel, at the corner of… I think 19th(?) and Hilyard.
You can get bialys in the Midwest if you’re willing to trek into Chicago. Kosher bakeries are all over the West Rogers Park neighborhood, such as Tel Aviv Kosher Bakery, which has good bialys.
I never got mine from either place, though, because they always have poppy seeds in them. I know it’s authentic, but I hate poppy seeds. When I want bialys, I make them myself, and use toasted or black sesame seeds in place of the poppy seeds, and add a bit of garlic to the caramelized onions.
Right now I’ve got about two pounds of whole wheat flour and no white flour in the house, and I need to get rid of them before the weekend (Passover time!). Would that work for bialys, or should I just stick with the usual “use up the whole wheat” recipe for no-knead bread?
I never heard of these, but hey, I live in Belgium. I recently had my very first bagel and fell in love with them – now the store has run out of stock (it was a special promo thing) and I can’t find any bagels anywhere. I’ll definitely try to make these bialys as they seem less troublesome than making bagels and certainly as delicious.
I believe Kossar’s had a store on 14th St. between 1st and A when I lived in a rathole tenement apt. in a building right next door on flight up. This was in 1982. The smell of burnt flour would seep through my floorboards. Although I bought them occasionally to gnaw on anxiously as I tried to forget about the junkies shooting up in the hallway just outside my door, I can’t say I was ever magically transported by them. I think it’s a race-memory thing. Just as you are underwhelmed by southern cornbread, Deb, for me the bialy is, “Ehh?” Now, that said, am I the first person to point out that in the movie “The Producers,” Zero Mostel’s character’s name is Max Bialystock? The artichokes will be made tonight!
These look awesome! After eating my fair share of bagels in my lifetime I finally teamed up with my mom to make my grandmother’s recipe a few months ago. I’m definitely going to give bialys a shot next – especially since you don’t have to mess with the boiling step.
Made them today, but have no idea as to their authenticity, as I have never had one. They were awfully cute though, and my husband said -quite tasty!
Aah Bread flour… Not available in my local French supermarket. Only a “preparation pour pain”. Which already has the yeast added. So now I’m in a quandary and my husband is crying out for Bialys.
Do I use the “preparation” and omit the first part of step one OR use “Farine de Ble” – plain flour – and hope for the best?
Are gluten additives available? Many shops here sell gluten powders that you can add to regular flours to make them just like bread flour. I often use Bob’s Red Mill at home.
mmmm. i wanna make these so bad! is there a certain store i can find King Arthur’s high gluten flour? does bread flour make these just as good?
I used regular old bread flour, which I don’t have trouble finding at Whole Foods and even the regular grocery stores by me. You can buy King Arthur’s High Gluten Flour on their web site, or go to your local bagel shop and beg them for a few cups (I did this when I made bagels).
I have been making byalys for many years and love them, probably more than is good for my diabetes. I switch things around a bit for some variety. I often make sourdough rye bread and often save some of the dough for making bialys. And when I cook the onions I sometimes add some chopped garlic as well, to add some extra flavor other times I will ad some caraway seeds to the filling with the poppy seeds. I have also been a complete heretic and cook the onions in some bacon fat. (I’m not Jewish, so not a big deal for me). But no matter how I make them, I love them and so do all the folks I’ve shared them with.
omg deb! i just finished making (and eating) these. Yum. Just yum.
Question: I used regular bread flour from the store, but I have some Vital Wheat Gluten here. I see you mentioning gluten powders above… Is this something I could add to my dough to increase the gluten? If so, how much? Any idea?
This is PERFECT timing. I’m having people over for brunch this weekend and wanted to make something different. This fits the bill perfectly. I’ll let you know how they turn out.
Oh, this makes my heart sing! I miss bialys, especially the vegetarian sandwich, the Buttermilk Bialy, from Ithaca Bakery that is made on a crispy bialy. I’ve never seen them outside New York. I will certainly save your recipe and try them, either in England where I live right now, or Texas where I’m heading next!! Thank you so much for sharing!
To my friends from Texas here who are comparing kolaches to bialys – no comparison. The kolaches that I’ve eaten in central Texas are much more moist and sweetbread-y (although not always sweet) than the quite dry, bread-like bialy. I will take either any day! Love them both!
Jenifer from Houston – I do suggest a field trip to NYC to explore the differences. It’s quite important that one experience these things rather than just read! Armchair travelers don’t get all the good flavors!
So I tried the recipe. I was disappointed that the dough didn’t rise must with the first rise and thought my bread was to be rock hard and a flop. I was still ready to eat it, rocks topped with onions, after baking. The second rise proved better and after baking, marvelous!! My husband and I thought the taste was similar to our fave Chinese scallion pancakes, even though the vehicle different. This recipe really does make a beautiful dough, one that bakers dream of.
I wish I had seen your post before I went to visit my (unemployed) nephew in Manhattan in February. My grandfather was from Bialystok, though, thankfully, he left in the early 1900s. I had read The Bialy Eaters, but didn’t realize Kossar’s had gone downhill. I made a special pilgrimage there and was very disappointed. Dry and almost no onion on top. There is a shiny new Whole Foods a couple blocks away in the lower east side that carries some better bialys. I think there is nothing to be done but try to make these at home! Thanks for your post!
Thank you so much Deb for posting this recipe!
I followed the link for the book and read- in disgust- that the comment was that this lady who wrote the book “went to Poland” and to “Argentina” (MY HOME COUNTRY) and “couldn’t find the true Bialy!” I was so disgusted I will definitely NOT buy the book! In Argentina we call them PLETZE/PLETZALAJ and they are THE BEST. And a dear friend who traveled to Poland and to Lithuania DID find them and they were great! So I am dissapointed that an “american-centered writer” who believes that HER take on how a bialy should be like is THE ULTIMATE one (and can’t find any that compare to that) is just a self-centered pompous ass!
And HOW LONG did that lady spent in Buenos Aires in order to FIND OUT if there were there or not? Shame on her! But she probably made some money and as some reviewers said- got some free trips- just so she could criticize anything that was not like what SHE expected to be? What a silly woman!
The only thing I would be interested about the book- for if anyone cares for commenting on that- is where in Miami they can be found. I know the ones at “epicure” (they go under a different name) but they are kind of hard, hard to split in half and not that great.
Anyhow- maybe you liked the book and it is not that bad. I hope it is not as badly researched as the review made it look!
Most important than all the above: I very much enjoy your blog- thanks for it!
I made these yesterday… I was certain that I’d mess them up somehow, because it was only my second time making bread, but oh my goodness these are AMAZING. I’m a third-generation native New Yorker so I know my way around a bialy, and one of these, still warm from the oven, slathered with butter on top? Best bialy I’ve ever had. This recipe must be foolproof if I was able to obtain these results!
One note — I think my oven tends to run hot, so for the first batch (I baked in two sets of three) I had the dial set to 450. Those bialys turned out perfectly shaped, but they took more than 10 minutes to bake through. So for the next batch, I turned the dial up to near 475 — the bialys baked in the appropriate amount of time, but the centers puffed up and the filling spilled out. So it seems that temperature has something to do with whether the centers puff up, as well.
wow, talk about timely! My father is getting ready to retire from NJ, where i grew up, to VA, where i live now. One of our regrets is that he won’t be able to get bialys down here. (The other is an abscence of good Jewish seeded rye bread.) In NJ you walk into the grocery store and buy them from the freezer case with no special effort. Here i haven’t found them for years. Wegmans grocery store just came to the area and sell bialys, but they’re like glorified “kaiser rolls,” nothing like real bialys should be. My father has baked bread before and so have i, so i sense a wonderful family baking experience in our near future! Thank you for this fine article.
We can get pretty good ones here from our little Mr. Bagel chain. I wonder though…is there a “right” way to eat them? I don’t toast them, cream cheese, piece of lettuce, thin slice of tomato, and a paper thin ring or two of red onion…with a grind or two of salt…it’s what I’ve always done and loved…
These look absolutely scrumptious! I think I need to go buy the ingredients now so I can make them today! I have tried to make bagels and they turn out alright. These look easier.
There are a lot of Jewish people on the north side of Chicago, and I first encountered Bialys when we moved here. I haven’t tried one yet, but being the bagel addict I am, I think I need to!
Eastern Europe – that’s the birthplace of all these wonderful breads. I recall my grandmother making bialy’s, pierogis, (nothing like the fresh one) beet soup iwth sour cream, and potatoe pancakes and kasha. There is no way they are as good unless the come from raw grated, small grate, potatoes.
Most of all is the dark rye bread. As a child we would go a distance to the only place that made is authentically. I believe the bread had to rise in wooden kegs. Not sure what they were, the kegs, I seem to reacall they had been previously use.
Love your site, and your recipes.. but, uhm… gosh, there IS a world outside of NYC?! Yes, in fact bialys *are* well known outside of NYC. Especially in Chicago – given the vast Jewish population here. Some of the best Jewish deli’s outside of NYC are here. (Skokie anyone?) I grew up on onion bialys, and they were always my favorite choice.. I just always wished I could get more of that onion center, that I had to ration out so carefully for each bite. This post is nice encouragement to now make my own. Keep up the great work… and don’t forget about the rest of us out in the land-beyond-NYC.
Omg Deb! I’m actually from Bialystok, where these originated, yet I never heard of them… must make them :)
I’m really excited to try this. Among Argentinean Jews we call them “Pletzalech” and we eat the with mayo, smoked beef brisket and sliced pickles. If you make the bialys small, these little sandwiches can be great finger food.
Itching to make these tonight as it’s cold outside and I’m craving warmth. Think I’ll start carmelizing the onions right now!
As a displaced New Yorker and an ethnic minority of about one I was resigned to never having another fresh bialy (my favorite). Now, with this recipe, I can have them whenever. Thanks so much for sharing this great recipe.
Hi there! i’m suprised to see my homecity special bialys recipe in here. You say that is popular in NY? That’s like insane. But, people, it’s rediculous to say, that to taste the real bialys you have to go to NY.
You should come for REAL ones to Bia?ystok, try the ones in tiny restaurant in historic city hall.
You should know also that ESPERANTO was created here.
Take care !
OOOOOOOOOOmigod these are so good, I’m eating one right now. My Dad will be so thrilled – he grew up in the Bronx where these used to be readily available. Uh…that is…if I don’t eat them all before he gets his hands on one.
I baked my bialys this morning and they really turned out great! Thanks!!! Here in Memphis, I don’t think there is anywhere to get them – not even Whole Foods. I did the first rise last night, then after forming the individual rolls, I put them in fridge over night. I did use extra sea salt in the dough and it is just right… thanks for the heads up on that. This morning I pulled them out and let the second rise begin. When I went to pull the plastic off the top of them and add the filling, I almost panicked b/c the plastic had totally stuck to the tops of them, even though I did flour the top of them before covering. When I pulled the plastic away, it tore the rolls and they deflated… sooo I was certain I was going to have little frisbees instead of little bialys. But by the time the topping was ready and oven was heated, they had recovered. I baked them and they came out beautiful. Chewy with a nice crust. So thanks!!!! Have a great week!
Just made these. I, apparently, pinched my centers even less efficiently than you, because they puffed up even more. This may be because I was afraid of deflating the dough, so instead of picking them up and pinching them, I put them on the sheet and pushed down in the centers. They were still unbelievably delicious, though! Thanks!
Used to live in S Florida for 20 years–now in SA Texas—can’t find any here. So I made my first batch of these and boiled baked bagels this weekend. Not so pretty–but we loved them….They were awesome!!!
I am so excited to try this recipe! (I recently tried a bialys recipe from a book called A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. Probably through my own error and inexperience, the baked goods came out tasty enough, but in no way resembled a bialys.) However, the directions about the KitchenAid mixer are causing me some consternation. My KitchenAid manual very sternly says never to knead dough on any speed but #2, let alone knead for 7 minutes on speed #4. Are we at odds because we have different KitchenAids (I have the KitchenAid 5 quart 475 watt stand mixer) or because the KitchenAid manual and forum are overly cautious? Thank you!
My family is from Bialystock and we’ve been baking bialies for generations. They’re always a New Year’s Day tradition for us, not sure why. In any case, if you’re worried about the mixer KNEAD THE DOUGH BY HAND! It takes about 8 minutes. Just dump the sticky, floury mess on a well floured countertop and keep turning, folding and kneading in flour untill the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic. I promise you that bialies have been around far longer than any kitchenaid and the pleasure of kneading and forming bialies by hand can not be beat.
Enjoyed reading your recipe. As a transplanted New Yorker now living in California, I will admit to being obsessed with obtaining the perfect bialy recipe. For a more authentic taste, I have had success by adding just a small amount of sugar to the recipe (as does George Greenstein in “Secrets of a Jewish Bread Baker”) (I use 1 teaspoon for 12 bialys). I recommend that the shaping be done more like shaping a pizza, as in the “Bread Cetera” recipe, but leave the outer edge thicker than a pizza – the total width before baking should be around 5″, with the edge around 1-1.5 inches. After placing the filling, allow to rise until a little puffy, which will make the bialy look smoother than your photos. Lastly, with all of that work, why make only 6 bialys?
Just made your bialys for a party. No one knew what they were, but what a favorite! The party host eventually cut them in forths so everyone could get a sample.
Improvised a little. Put finely minced rosemary in the dough. I hand kneaded the dough for 10 minutes with lots of stretching. I have a new yet inferior oven. On the lowest shelf I placed a 12 X 9 X 2 cake pan filled with water, I used the next shelf for baking. Preheated the oven with my cookie trays in it. Shaped and filled the bialys on parchment then moved quickly to place it onto the very hot cookie trays. Baked, spritzed with water and turned the trays every three minutes or so…. As my oven doesn’t distribute heat well… I waited until 190 temp, about 15 minutes.
Delicious, the best recipe I have found… The appearance, the texture…
I’m in the process of making these right now! My bialys totally stuck to the plastic wrap (even though I floured their tops), and then deflated when I had to peel them off. So next time I will just cover with a damp towel instead, I think… just waiting for the oven to heat! the filling smells so good… i love sauteed onions! will check back to tell you how it goes!
they turned out fantastic! just a note… make sure the pan you toss the ice cubes in is made of metal and not glass because if you toss ice cubes into a hot glass pan it will shatter. I found this out the hard way. :(
I grew up in Ithaca, NY and the Ithaca Bakery makes wonderful Bialys. They do not put the onion mixure on theirs, which is just the way I like them! I will enjoy trying your recipe.
I swear, I did everything wrong making this recipe. I forgot to mix the flour and yeast until I’d added half the salt. I used regular flour instead of bread flour. I used active dry yeast instead of instant. I added extra flour and mixed it extra long because the dough seemed so soft and wet. The plastic wrap stuck to the tops of my bialys on the second rise. I just poked the centers in instead of shaping them because the one I managed to peel off the sheet looked so flat and sad afterwards. That meant that I baked them on the metal sheet instead of on my baking stone.
And damn it all if they didn’t turn out lovely despite my best efforts to screw them up.
I can’t wait to try these. We moved to the mid-west from northern Westchester and no one here know what they are. My boys loved them for breakfast.
First homemade chocolate wafers and now homemade bialys! You are too much. Btw, I grew up right near Kossar’s but haven’t been in a long time… now that I moved all the way to the other end of the island (Morningside Heights)! Only in New York would 5 miles or so be a schlep but it’s over an hour on public transportation!
My family eats bialys and bagels almost daily, so I wanted to share my tip for heating: Ideally, you would eat it immediately out of the oven, but if that’s not possible, freeze immediately. To reheat, bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. It takes almost like it did when it was first cooked. If it burns, you know that it was all air and not worthy to begin with; if it’s still cold in the middle then you’ve got yourself one dense bialy and please post your recipe! Regarding Kossar’s, I was so excited to see their bialys in the frozen section at my ShopRite, unfortunately, when I got them home, the center was empty–not a single poppyseed. It’s a shame they’ve declined in recent years, and I regret never getting up there when they were still good.
Just a note for some who are making them and have no experience with commerical bialys to compare theisr with: as Texas girl on the Lower East Side in the 90’s, the kosher onion bialys kind of reminded me of a onion english muffin. but much, much better. So, yes, a bialy can be a little drier and chewier than you expect. Not really a pastry, more of a bread. And so stinkin’ good with toasted with honey drizzled on top.
Just to jump in on the kolache conversation….I have just discovered them and their amazing deliciousness! I came to your site to see if you had a recipe for them and this is “hit” I got. I am dying to find a really good recipe for them as they are amazing!
I like bialys alot especially when they are fresh. I like them with egg omelletes or tuna fish or egg salad inside. I think it is good to toast them sliced and also add smart balance.
Hilla, you can get biayls in Houston at New York Bagel Shop, Kenny’s Deli and other places. (You didn’t look did you?)
If you’re ever in Austin looking for bialy, Sweetish Hill Bakery makes great ones! The garlic topped ones are especially tasty!
I live in the midwest and there are no bialys to be found. After searching online for a place to order from, and finding outrageous shipping fees, I stumbled onto this site. Hooray! Thanks, Deb! I immediately wanted to try the recipe, but sadly, I didn’t have the right flour on hand. Having no patience, I decided to try the recipe anyway. I had about 3/4 cup of older self-rising flour and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour an hand. So, I mixed that with the yeast, (kosher) salt, and water. The dough rose a bit less than I expected, but it was the right texture – stretchy and not sticky. I shaped it and followed the remaining directions for the second rise. After that rise, as suggested, I did make a small slit in the well. After filling the uncooked bialys with the onion mixture, I lightly pressed them on a paper plate dusted with corn meal. Yes, corn meal. I am in the Midwest after all. Corn products are big here. :) I used my heated pizza stone for baking, and corn meal keeps things from sticking to the pizza stone, so I never use the stone without corn meal. I decided not to use the egg wash. My oven heat varies, so it took about 15 minutes for the bialys to bake. I checked them often during baking, though, just to be on the safe side. They rose around the edges a bit, but not in the middle. And… I just had my my first warm bite. Wow! They are so similar to the bialys I remember from when I lived in Illinois and Florida years ago. The crust has a crunch to it and the bread part is perfectly chewy. The texture is dense, more than a bagel, but less than pizza crust. I’ll cut back on the salt next time, but other than that — a great result for having the wrong flour!
Correction to my above post: I used 1.5 cups of self-rising flour and .5 cup all-purpose flour (to make 2 cups total). So sorry – I was in bialy bliss when I posted earlier. :)
I am so excited to find a recipe for bialys. I left NYC in 1967 and have never had one since. They are the food I miss the most. I always talk about them, but nobody knows what I mean. My husband loves to bake, and after I post my comment, I’m going to show him the recipe and hopefully we’ll try it today — wish us luck. Thank you so much for posting this recipe !
My dad, having worked in manhattan in the late 70s, fantasizes about the fresh from the oven, onion oozing bialys of long ago. Whenever I visit my parents in Arizona, I bring a dozen of the round baked goodness and am always disappointed at their appearance, their freshness…I’ve tried well about a dozen places (including Kossar’s) and have not been satisfied. I decided this year for new years I was going to attempt making them myself and thanks to Smitten Kitchen I made a dozen beautiful, fresh, hot out of the oven bialys for my dad…best present I ever gave. Thanks! (Did the alternate recipe as that’s how my dad remembered them…beautiful, recommend trying them this way.)
I love bialys! And always hated living outside of the NYC area as I could never find anywhere that sold them (nevermind finding a half decent bagel.) My second batch came out great- but I can’t seem to get them to brown properly. The first time I made them, desperate for them to brown, I left them in for something like 18 minutes and burnt the bottom. They were a loat cause. This second time I left them in for 14 and they’re beautifully shaped with a couple of very small brown spots and browned bottoms with a nice crisp exterior but not the lovely golden brown I’m looking for. Any ideas?
Deb!! I’m an east coaster who recently moved to the horrible heartland, and there is nary a good bagel or rye loaf to be found. (They sell challah that looks like braided wonderbread called “sweet braided European egg bread.” Snort.)
Anyway, made these today, added some roasted garlic to the filling and they were fantastic! One of my favorite recipes on your sites. So amazingly good. If I ever have a baby, I’ll be making these for his bar mitzvah!
I know it’s a bit weird that I’m commenting on such an old post, but I’ve been going through all the posts on this blog – love it! – because if boredom/insomnia, and this recipe caught my eye. Why? Because it mentions my city, and rarely do foreigners ever know it. Born and raised Bialystok girl here. I teared up while reading this recipe because, well, I’m abroad in Italy, have been for a few months now and I’m feeling insanely homesick, especially after reading this. I ate these when I was a kid and I truly forgot about them, we only gave generic buns with onions in stores now. Now I’m just thinking about making these to ease the time until I get back home to my family. Thank you so much for this recipe, really brought a smile to my face (and a tear to my eye)!
Hi Mae — It is so nice to hear from you!
I was born in the Bronx, later raised in NJ; and now live in the mountains of NC (go figure?!) When I was growing up in the Bronx in the early ’60’s there was a bialy bakery on Jerome Ave, just south of Gun Hill Rd, that I used to buy bialys at for a few cents each! (those were the days!) Recently, I have tried my hand at making bagels, which maybe due to our great mountain well water, came out GREAT! I am now going to try my hand at bialys, and this web posting and associated comments were also great! Thanks!
might want to take down the “times have changed” link. it gave me a virus.
It’s from New York Magazine. I didn’t have any trouble; are they running a bum ad perhaps? (I go there all the time, no problems.)
All the Jewish bakeries in London make them but we call them Platzels. They come in 2 varieties, Tzibbileh (onion, Yiddish), and plain.
Both delicious. Better than Biegels (or Bagels as you call them).
I am originally from Brooklyn ad lied close to Bell Bialys’. I moved to NC and no I am in California. I miss my bialy! I am making them now, I will let you know how it comes out. I am not a good baker, but for these I will try! I will have to make some homemade vegtable cream cheese! :)
I discovered bialys at the Bagel & Deli Shop in Oxford, Ohio, home to Miami University of Ohio. They were fabulous most any time of day, as a pre-party meal or hangover cure. I was there in the early 80’s and I know the shop continues to thrive. In fact, someone opened a similar shop in Indianapolis near Butler University (along Broad Ripple).
I am originally a Brooklyn girl and dearly miss fresh baked bialys on a Sunday afternoon. Now in upstate New York, what is sold as a bialy is nothing remotely close to the chewy, savory and extremely comforting bread that I’m used to. This recipe might just change all of that! I baked these recently and added a small head of chopped garlic to the onion poppy mixture and it was DIVINE. Everyone is asking for a batch or a copy of the recipe!
I am trying this out halved for my small family, and the dough hook seems to be just chasing the ball of dough around the bowl and not really interacting with it too much. I don’t have a lot of experience with dough hooks so I don’t know if that’s normal or if the ball of dough is just too small for the hook to grab, as it were. Any ideas? Many thanks, looking forward to these.
Where can I find some tasty Bialy’s? I’d like to have them shipped to NW Montana. I can’t bake right now, as I’m nursing a torn rotator cuff.
I worked in Manhattan for 15 years. I loved bialys and ate them all the time. There used to be a wonderful bagel shop in Penn Station in the 70s and 80s that used to sell great bialys. Bialys are wonderful toasted with butter or schmeared with cream cheese.
I just made the bialys. Flavor and texture of the bread itself were better than I remember (I’m a NYer living in Phila), but they formed a skin after the 2nd rise that translated into cracked surface on the final product. Should they have been covered with ?damp cloth for the 2nd rise?
Charles — I’m always hesitant to recommend a damp cloth because it can stick and wreck the little shapes. I have more luck loosely draping it with plastic wrap, sometimes oiled. I hadn’t had the skin issue, but your kitchen/environment might be drier than mine.
For all the “we have these, but we call them…” comments: you probably don’t. Bialys aren’t the only or even necessarily the best onion&poppy-topped bread in the world, but they definitely are not the same as kolache or pletzelach or onion buns or focaccia. Bialys are tender, chewy, floury, and while they have a little topping in the well, it isn’t folded in or rolled on, and bialy deliciousness doesn’t depend on it. Bialy’s are almost delicate, bake very quickly and go stale while you’re looking at them. Anybody can call anything anything, but those other things are definite (quite fine) other things. Bialys they ain’t.
As for how to eat them: there isn’t a wrong way to enjoy food but a good test of bialy quality is wanting to add anything. If you’re tempted to split one, you have a wimpy bagel. If you hear it calling out for cream cheese, you have a stale bialy. If you can’t wait to bite into it and wouldn’t want anything to come between you and it, that’s a good bialy.
And, sure, you can use something other than King Arthur flour, but why in the world would you? KAF is one of the great benefits of living in this country. If you opt for high-gluten flour, or add gluten, it’s worth knowing that extra liquid and machine kneading are beneficial. King Arthur bread flours tend to have higher gluten content than others’. (Their low-gluten cake & pastry flours are specified as such.) Straight KA bread flour will approximate other millers’ high-gluten offerings. (That’s one reason why recipes that specify KA flour don’t translate directly to “or bread flour”.) KA Lancelot, their highest-gluten flour, is 14.2% protein and not only will you have a hard time finding it, you’ll have a hard time handling it. It’s for production bakers, which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it, just make allowances and expect to learn some new methods. For bialys, it might be smart to cut back a bit on the yeast, lengthen the first rise accordingly, and let the dough rest 24 hours in the refrigerator between shaping and the second rise.
If you’re ever in Austin, Texas, Sweetish Hill Bakery serves delicious and fresh bialys daily. The garlic ones are my favorite. :3
Thank you so much for posting how to make them at home. I’m anxious to give it a try!
These have been on my ‘to-do’ list for ages and finally this weekend I got around to making them. They are perfect! I live in Baltimore and can rarely find bialys, so this recipe was a perfect solution. We had friends over for brunch this weekend so I made them up to the end of the last rise the night before and put the baking sheet in the fridge over night. The morning of the brunch I took them out, let them get back up to temp (about an hour) then topped the bialys with the onion/poppy seed mix, slid the bialys with their parchment onto a pre-heated pizza stone and baked. Absolutely perfect! Thanks!
I made these today, with sumak instead of poppy seeds, and 1.5 tsp salt instead of just one. What a wonderful recipe! It came out great. I highly recommend it.
Once, many years ago, I stumbled upon Kossar’s bakery one Sunday morning. Along with bialys, they had flat onion-y disks called onion disks (go figure) and a sort of elongated bialy called a “bulka”. As far as I could tell, they were all the same thing except for the shape. And all ridiculously delicious. A bialy right out of the oven with a little butter is something to die for. That would be my preferred “lost on a desert island” food, if I had to choose.
Any advice on how to stage these so they could be baked fresh for breakfast? Perhaps forming the rolls and letting them slow rise overnight in the refrigerator?
One of the things I pined for most after leaving New York in 2002 was Kossar’s bialys, so thank you for this recipe! I’m definitely going to try it. Yours look dreamy.
Deb, I read this article today (http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/183237/bialy-comeback?all=1) and knew I had to come find your post on bialys. I hope you get a chance to try their new recipes and report back!
I made these yesterday and they are fantastic – thankyou for the recipe! I was a little worried the dough was too sticky but they came out perfectly. It’s a great one for new-ish bakers too as it’s not too complicated (except for the pinching!).
I live in Sydney, Australia so the bialy is not easy to come by. I’ve had one in Melbourne but it was made as though it was an afterthought to its superior cousin: the bagel. But a real bialy, in my opinion, is far superior. I work on a Yiddish program that travels to Bialystok each year and the bialy has taken on mythic qualities in my mind. Had a great time recreating a little corner of Jewish Bialystok yesterday.
This dough is not terribly different than the no-knead bread or your lazy pizza dough. I will try this now. (guess I’m on a bread-making kick these days!)
Rebekah#200…thanks for the link. I am a sucker for a good back story..
When I saw this recipe I just knew that I had to try it out. I made these today and they came out amazing. My house smells wonderful, especially from the onions. I cannot wait to try these toasted with some cream cheese!
I made these for breakfast this morning and they were great! I made the filling and dough yesterday. I shaped them last night and let them rise in the fridge. I let them warm up and rise some more this morning as I was preheating the oven. I did use a little less poppy and added some nigella or kalonji seeds. Very good! I think caraway might work too if someone likes that flavor. Mine puffed up in the middle too but I pushed the hole back down with a small spoon while they were still hot and it worked fine. We had strong coffee, gaspe nova, and bialy with some goat cheese. Most satisfying.
I live in the rural midwest, over an hour from a bagel shop. My neighbors go to New York sometimes and bring me bialys when they do. These are better because they are fresh from the oven. Yum!
I’ve been obsessed with bialys since a friend’s grandfather brought them to Maryland back in college. My family in NY lives near Bell Bialy Bakery in Canarsie and when I visit I’ll get two dozen, freezing the leftovers. Today it occurred to me I could make my own and found this recipe. Thank you, thank you, thank you! They came out perfectly and as good as I remember them.
I grew up in Cleveland Heights, OH in the 1950s-1960s, which had a large Jewish population. Every good bakery carried bialys as well as bagels, and they were all outstanding! Now, it seems I can only get them in NYC, so glad to have this recipe – and even more glad to have the referral to Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “The Bread Bible”.
Years ago when visiting my aunt and her wonderful Jewish husband, we had bialys from some bakery in Skokie, IL. There were delicious. After that introduction, whenever my folks made the trip up to see my aunt and uncle they always brought home bialys. Now, I eat neither due to a wheat allergy. Dang.
I know you posted this a while ago, but I just made these for father’s day, after hearing my dad wax poetic about the bialys at I&Joy Bagel in L.A for years. Aside from the shape (he remembers more of a roll/log shape) he said these were “amazing” and “perfect” and “I wish my mother could taste this” and other superlatives. Thank you so much for allowing me to give my father such a happy memory back.
After searching through 8 yrs of comments, I can’t believe no one has asked about the flour measurement! The KAF bag says 1/4 c = 30 g, so 2 c = 240 g, not 300 g. I tried the spoon and scrape method and 2 c weighed 280 g, And 3/4 c + 2 T water? Why not make it 2 1/4 c flour and 1 c water? I thoroughly enjoy your blog, and hesitate to be critical of a recipe. I’ve had great dishes prepared using recipes from your blog. Thanks!
I’m surprised nobody has either. The thing is, I find the KAF — even though they’re the pros, and the growers — measurement way low. I have very accurate measuring cups and no matter how I spoon it in, I don’t get 120. I get 125 to 130. Cook’s Illustrated calls for I think 140-145 grams per cup, which I find too high. So, I usually default to 130 grams in hopes it will work for most people.
However, when using recipes from other people, I default to theirs or I have to full rejigger either the cups or numbers, and that gets confusing for other people. Hence the 150 grams per cup here. I hope that clarifies. This stuff gives me a huge headache, to be honest, because you’re often trying to figure out whether someone was thinking in grams (therefore you might adjust the cups) or cups (therefore the grams need adjusting). If only everyone could just use scales….
Deb, my father retired two years ago, which is causing him to obsess over weird things. One of which is the bialy. We live in Chicago, and the bakery he used to get them from closed. Now, let me explain, this man doesn’t just want a depressed-hole-doughnut Bialy like you’ve so magnificently shown in your recipe, he wants the stupid “stick” form (or log, whatever it’s called). I have argued with him with great frustration that the “stick” was a mad experiment and that the round Bialy is far superior because of 1.) air pockets, 2.) how in the world would the onion mixture live if not in the depressed center?!@#@!??
Deb, please…can I use this recipe to make him a Bialy stick for his birthday? If so, where do I put the damn onions and how do I get them to stick?
(I’m remembering these as a salt stick, or a stick with caraway seeds. Maybe you roll the stick in the onion mixture?)
Deb, is it possible that you’ve never attempted a kolache? I’m on vacation in Austin and just had a transcendental experience biting into one and realizing, “ohhhhhhh, THIS is what they are supposed to be… pillowy and buttery with salty, oniony pops!” Abosolutely delicious and nothing like the firm, almost bialy-like imitators I’ve had back home in DC (which are fine, but are not this). I immediately came here for what would certainly be an authoritative take on the kolache and this recipe is the closest I got. Nothing against bialys, of course, but it’s not what I’m looking for. Any chance you’ve got a kolache recipe in the files somewhere you’d like to share with us?
Do you ship Bialys to California? If so, I’m ready.
I am native Pole and I’ve never heard of Bialys! They look yummy though.
Will this be a disaster if I make it with regular flour? I can’t find bread flour or high-gluten flour anywhere at the moment
No, it should not be.
These are called pletzalej in Buenos Aires, and pletzels in England.
Whatever their name is, I just baked them and they are glorious. I feel ike a real baker!!!
Thank you Deb for helping bring ºthis tradition back to life.
Are there any adjustments that should be made to use active dry yeast instead of instant?
gave up bagels for bialys 30 years ago and never looked back. They are so much better and were always available in Chicago (now I get them in Phoenix). Plus, they fit in the toaster better
I am a huge bialy fan and have been disappointed the world over EXCEPT…
there is a bagel shop in Bellingham, Washington called The Bagelry which makes unbelievable bialys. They taste just like Mimi Sheridan describes.
I live in Vancouver and have done hundreds of Bialy runs down to Bellingham ( an hour south), but since the Covid border shut down we are bereft of bialys! I can’t wait to try your recipe.
The result was okay (though the bialys didn’t brown or mottle much at all), and, sorry to say, the recipe is poorly written, meandering, imprecise — and I am seasoned, serious, accomplished baker.
Thank you so much for this recipe – I doubled it and delivered a dozen to my mom for her birthday today. My parents LOVE bialys and can’t get any “real” ones where they live. I need to practice my shaping a bit since mine ended up in more of a bagel shape, but I will definitely be making these again. Your recipes never disappoint!
Love these! Can you make the dough a day ahead, let rise and bake fresh in the morning?
I made the bialys yesterday. I used a cuisinart and didn’t turn the dough for 7 minutes, though the dough came away from the sides of the container. I baked the bialys on a stone for more than 10 minutes with a pan in the oven, with too few ice cubes, beneath. The bialys came out great, tasted great, were easy to make, AND will be made again and again!!
Thank you. I love your website!
Can these be made ahead and refrigerated overnight before baking?