bialy babka Recipe

bialy babka

Completely randomly — an idea just fluttered down like a November leaf and landed on this patch of calendar, the day before the day in which all of the time we do not spend on a line to vote we will instead spend glued to election returns and trying not to bite our nails down to the nub — I’ve been thinking about the kind of cooking we do when tensions are high and a little distraction might be the height of self-care. May I recommend some extended time in the kitchen? Stirring a pot, kneading a dough, and reading a recipe forces us to briefly pause our scrolling and invest in something tangible, like a cozy meal. Lasagna with fresh pasta sheets! Peerless chicken noodle soup. A really luxurious Caesar salad. Pot pies. Wildly decadent macaroni-and-cheese. Falafel, from scratch. The highest calling of tomato soup and grilled cheese.

what you'll needmake your doughstretchy doughchop your onions

dough, doubledspread and roll it upsplit the logready to bake

Or something new. A bialy (here’s my go-to recipe) — Yiddish shorthand for a bialystoker kuchen, hailing from Białystok, Poland — is a palm-sized chewy roll with an indentation filled with cooked onions and poppy seeds. Warm from the oven, spread with butter they’re, to me, simple bliss. A bialy babka is elaborate bliss. It’s what happens when you take those same flavors and ribbon and twist them through a stretchy, rich dough and bake it into a perfectly proportioned loaf — way more than a pinch of onions per serving, hooray.

bialy babka

The ingredient list isn’t long, hard to procure, or pricy, but the when put together with a few deeply engaging techniques, you get something of unbelievable beauty, aroma, [and Instgrammable magnificence, should you wish to “cleanse the timeline”] and flavor, hopefully the perfect project for all of the first Tuesdays of November in our lives.

bialy babka

Babkas, previously: Chocolate Babka, Better Chocolate Babka [although, in hindsight, I feel this label is unfair; the first is closer to what we’d get in a Jewish deli growing up; the latter is an Ottolenghi/Israeli-style Krantz cake], Baklava Babka, and even a sort of Pizza Babka.



6 months ago: Rhubarb Cordial
1 year ago: White Bean Soup with Crispy Kale
2 year ago: Sunken Black Forest Cake
3 years ago: Bakery-Style Butter Cookies
4 years ago: Broken Pasta with Pork Ragu
5 years ago: Baked Potatoes with Wild Mushroom Ragu and Twinkie Bundt
6 years ago: Homemade Harissa and Cauliflower Cheese
7 years ago: Potato and Broccolini Frittata
8 years ago: Butternut Squash Salad with Farro and Pepitas and Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chunk Scones
9 years ago: Pear, Cranberry, and Gingersnap Crumble
10 years ago: Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake and Spiced Applesauce Cake
11 years ago: Cauliflower with Almonds, Raisins and Capers and Silky, Decadent Old-School Chocolate Mousse
12 years ago: Meatballs and Spaghetti and Cranberry-Walnut Chicken Salad and Pink Lady Cake
13 years ago: Pumpkin Bread Pudding and Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
14 years ago: Pumpkin Muffins and Easiest Baked Macaroni-and-Cheese

Bialy Babka

  • Servings: 8 to 10
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

What does one do with a bialy babka? Slice it and eat it warm, either plain, spread with butter, or even cream cheese (and even lox). You can eat a slice toasted with a bowl of soup, as we did for dinner, or for breakfast the next day, with an egg. Want to make a French Onion Babka? Sprinkle 1 to 2 cups of grated cheese (such as comte, baby swiss, gruyere) to the onions before you roll it. But you must believe me, this doesn’t even need cheese to be savory perfection. Note: You can watch an Instagram Story demo of this recipe over here.

  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons(90 ml) whole or low-fat milk
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour
  • Filling
  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) yellow onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce or 30 grams) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds, plus more to finish

Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together butter, milk, yeast, sugar, salt, egg, and yolk until blended. Add flour and use a dough hook to bring the mixture together and knead on low speed for 5 to 7 minutes, until dough is stretchy but soft. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic, and set aside for 1 1/2 to 2 hours in a warm spot, until just about doubled — it will grow from 2-ish cups to 4-ish cups. [Additional advice:] If your kitchen runs cold or things seem to be moving very slowly, heat your oven to 200F for a few minutes and turn it off, and place your bowl in there for the remainder of the rising time. It should move along more quickly.

[For a longer rise, or to use this tomorrow, you can chill the dough in the fridge. If you are, take it out about 1 1/2 hours before using it so it has time to warm up again before rolling it out.]

While dough rises, cook your onions: Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in butter and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let them slowly steep for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. You can walk away.

Uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in salt. Cook onions, stirring every 5 minutes for another 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and very tender and sweet. No need to fully caramelize them, as you would for onion soup or an irate French culinary instructor, which would take much longer. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the onions until they get a little dark at the edges, about another 5 minutes. Transfer onions to a plate and spread them out so that they cool faster.

Assemble babka: On a large, well-floured counter, roll out dough until it is about 12 inches wide (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, likely 10 to 14 inches. Spoon then spread onions over dough in an even layer, then sprinkle onions with 2 teaspoons poppy seeds. Roll the dough up with the filling away from you into a tight coil. Transfer coil to a parchment-lined baking sheet or board to your freezer, just for 5 to 10 minutes. [It will cut much more cleanly in half when chilled.] While it’s there…

Prepare pan: Coat a standard loaf pan with butter or nonstick spray, and line the bottom and two sides with a sling of parchment paper for easier removal.

Finish shaping babka: Remove dough from freezer and use a serrated knife to gently cut the log lengthwise into two long strips and lay them next to each other, cut sides up. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing up (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step seems messy; it will be gorgeous regardless. Transfer the twist into your prepared loaf pan.

Let proof again: Cover the pan with the same plastic wrap and let it rise another 45 minutes at room temperature. You won’t see much of a change in the size and that’s fine; we’re just letting the dough relax a little.

Heat your oven: To 350°F.

Bake babka(s): Sprinkle babka with an extra couple pinches of poppy seeds. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center doesn’t feel like it’s hitting sticky/rubbery dough, or the internal temperature is 185°F. If onions get too brown on top (mine did), you can put some foil over for the last few minutes, but unless they full burn, they won’t taste bad.

Serve: Let cool as long as you can stand in in the pan, then cut into thick slices with a serrated knife. Leftovers keep at room temperature for a few days; I usually wrap it in foil. Gently toast slices to rewarm.

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182 comments on bialy babka

  1. Lisa

    Just yesterday I used a half recipe of your chocolate babka dough and made a babka which I filled with a filling of figs simmered in orange juice, then blended with the flesh of the orange. Sprinked that with crumbled feta, and then when it was out of the oven glazed with a honey glaze that I simmered with fresh thyme. And now today, this! I’m going to make this one tomorrow. I can’t wait to see how the dough compares. This one seems easier and hoping for a bigger rise with the increased amount of yeast. Promise I’ll report back. Thank you Deb for the constant inspiration. Probably half of what I cook and bake comes from your site and I love you.

    1. Elaine

      babka bread+figs+orange+feta+honey/thyme glaze — sounds friggin’ fantastic!
      We’ll be trying this.
      Thanks for posting

  2. Elke

    Sounds like a perfectly delicious project for tomorrow.
    One note: could the “baby sweet” cheese you recommend in the head note of the recipe possibly be “baby Swiss”? ;)

  3. Jennifer

    This reminds me of the garlic knots from my favorite pizza place: garlic and cheese wrapped into pinwheels that you can peel apart to eat. I think a “bialy babka” with minced garlic and grated parmesan would also be delicious.

    1. Meghan

      I was going to ask about making this with a roasted garlic spread instead of onions! I’ll let you know how it turned out if I do.

  4. Katie

    Do you think I could use Trader Joe’s everything but the bagel seasoning instead of poppy seeds, if that’s what I have? What quantity would you recommend if I did that? It’s less dense than poppyseeds alone, but more flavorful….

    1. Jennifer Van de Griek

      Oooh, I love this idea! I have TJ’s everything but no poppy seeds, so I might try this. I’m guessing maybe half the quantity?

      1. Katie

        I’m doing it as we speak! I was thinking half would be a good ratio too. Going to add in some extra sesame seeds too, I keep them around to top salad…

  5. Cara

    After reading this, I think the bialys are just what we need with tomorrow’s planned soup. Except, when I followed the link back to that recipe (just bialys, not the babka version) it calls for bread flour, and I have already been to the store. Can someone opine on whether all purpose flour will be good enough?

    1. Andrea

      Living in Pakistan I never had access to bread flour and almost never did it make a big enough difference for me to miss it. Especially in an enriched dough I would reckon you’re fine.

        1. Maro

          I keep vital wheat gluten around because I never manage to buy bread flour. There are good swap ratios out there that I always have to look up (something like a tablespoon per cup?).

        1. deb

          They’re really different, unfortunately. The goal here was a bialy flavor; babka texture. But, if you don’t mind it being more bready and less rich, you could use an egg-free dough.

    1. Mary

      I make and freeze cinnamon rolls often. I freeze after shaping them. Set them on the counter the night before to defrost and rise. I see no reason that this recipe shouldn’t work similarly

  6. Waffler

    The only babka I’ve ever had has been what I’ve made from SK recipes, so I’m not sure i have the most objective perspective. I made this tonight with a little everything seasoning and it was pretty dang good with halibut chowder.

  7. jessica

    for reasons that don’t need exploring ar this juncture, i have only buttermilk and half & half. which would you suggest subbing for the milk?

    also, if i don’t like poppyseeds should i leave them out or sub with fennel seeds maybe? thx!

  8. Marcia

    Already baked bread today, and your super everyday chocolate cake, and have committed
    to Martha Stewart’s Mac and cheese for Tomorrow night. Definitely need to carbohydrate load for this one. This Babka is definitely on the list.Thank you for the best Carbs ever!

  9. Indy

    There’s such a gentleness in your writing, Deb. I wanted to just say I deeply appreciate your voice and its kindness, at such a divided time.

  10. Julie Gordon

    Deb, this is sheer brilliance!
    It is no coincidence to me that you shared this with the world on Dia De Los Muertos – this honors all Bubbes (and Zeydes!) who made sure foods like bialys were known and loved by their children and grandchildren. I so wish I could make this and impress the hell out of my own mother. She would have been smitten!

  11. Arielle C

    Just making this now and realized the salt in the dough is listed in the instructions twice. Once with the whisked ingredients, and once with the flour. I put it in with the whisking, but then worried it might have harmed the yeast (I used equivalent active dry yeast proofed in some of the warmed milk). Won’t know what happens for a couple of hours, but thought it was worth pointing out for others.

    1. Robin

      Having the same thought now. Just had two hours of rising and I’m not sure if the yeast wasn’t hurt by the salt. Oh well, I’m sure it will taste delicious, just flatter.

  12. Margy Berger

    Yikes. How utterly brilliant. This is the kind of idea, in any field, that is both totally original and so right that it seems obvious and makes you wonder why no one thought of it before.

  13. Ruth

    OMG!! I HAVE to make this. Stress baking is my favorite way to curb anxiety. Followed, of course, by stress eating.

    I grew up next door to Kossar’s Bialys. I remember when they were 4 cents! each. They were open 24/7, except for Yom Kippur and Passover. We would stop for fresh, hot bialys when we came home late at night and usually ate them in the elevator.

    I have wanted to try making them, but none of the recipes for the onions I have seen sounded right. Yours sounds like it might be the one.

  14. Susan

    Ready to make this and should’ve asked sooner, but:
    I hate everything about chopping onions so bought pre-chopped at the grocery store, but they come in 5oz packages. Can anyone tell me quantity of chopped onions to use, either in ounces or cups? Thanks in advance!

  15. Emily

    I just took my dough off the mixer and it’s kind of dry and crumbly, didn’t come together—double checked all ingredients and they seem to be correct! What have I done/can she be saved?? Is there more liquid I should add?

      1. Marianne

        I had the same problem with dry dough. When checking my measurements I discovered that my 6 T of milk was only about 60 ml. To get to 90 ml each tablespoon needs to be overflowing. I will just measure by ml in the future.

    1. Natalie

      This happened to me and I realized I wasn’t using instant yeast and I hadn’t proofed it. Tried again, proofing the active dry yeast and it worked much better. Just putting this here in case anyone makes the same mistake I did!

  16. Deborah

    Do you think this will work well with some shredded parmesan cheese with the onions? I feel like it may be a little lighter than other cheeses.

  17. I am making this right now, which is a far better use of my time than my previous plan of obsessively watching the news. The onions smell so good! I didn’t have instant yeast so I used regular and warmed up the milk to proof it in.

  18. Susan

    Thank you, I am too antsy today so went ahead and did it already — used 10 which seemed about right for 2oz butter….don’t see how it can be bad, worst case is next time I will know to use more! Everything I make from SK is always delicious, love your books too :-)

  19. Ellen N.

    This recipe looks fantastic. I plan to make it soon.

    By standard size loaf pan, do you mean 8 1/2″ X 4 1/2″ or 9″ X 5″?

  20. Help! Is the babka supposed to rise significantly during the 45 minutes in the pan at room temp? Because mine looks pretty much the way it did when I put it in there. Not sure if I should bake or wait for more rising action?

  21. I am making this right now and the dough’s been rising for 1.5 hours in my oven’s “Bread/Proof” setting which has worked for me in the past with pizza doughs. But this dough has hardly risen at all! Deb, do you have any recommendations on the warm spot to keep it as it doubles? I just stuck my hand in the oven, and it didn’t really seem that warm, so now I have it on the oven’s “Keep Warm” setting hoping the slightly increased heat will help it along.

      1. Elizabeth Collins

        Mine hasn’t risen either after the first 1.5 hours. I didn’t add the extra milk that others above suggested, so maybe it’s a little dry. I’m wondering if it might be worth adding and re-kneading now, or is that a big no-no? I’m a yeast novice!

          1. Nadine Fiedler

            Deb, I did everything as instructed and let it sit in a warm place for about three hours, and it never rose. I think the recipe might need tweaking.

              1. Shannon

                I should add that I love this site because most of the recipes DO come out really well for me and it’s a delightful place to find new stuff to try. Maybe this one just doesn’t like me?

    1. Anne

      I used to have the same issue with Deb’s other babka recipes…until I started proofing my yeast (in this case, warmed the milk a bit, stirred in the yeast and sugar, let sit for 5-10m). Once I started doing that, the rise times worked consistently for me, including this recipe. Not sure why it seems to work so well for Deb to skip proofing the yeast and not me!

  22. Nadine Fiedler

    I just failed at this. I used bread flour, but it didn’t rise. I put the dough first in the microwave with some hot water, then in the oven with the light on. No rise whatsoever. The yeast was a brand-new packet of the good baker’s yeast, so it wasn’t that. The dough never got elastic. Oh, well, the onions look fantastic. I think I’ll use the failed dough as a tart crust with the onions and cheese on top!

  23. Lisa

    I made this today. It’s very delicious! However, I did have to let the dough initially rise for 2 hours, and for 1.5 hours on the second rise. I felt like I could have let it go even longer, but got impatient. It’s cold today, so I use a trick I learned from Alexandra Stafford which is to turn the oven on to preheat for 1 minute and then turn it off. I proofed the dough in that warmed up oven for the first and second rises. I was concerned about overbrowning, so I applied foil for the last ten minutes. It took 45 minutes for the bread to come to temp. Thanks for the marvelous recipe, Deb. Can’t wait to eat more of this later on with soup.

  24. Niki

    I made this today and it was great! Like others, I did let it proof for longer, especially on the second rise. But, it is delicious and definitely the distraction I needed to keep my hands and mind busy. Thank you! Looking forward to adding some lox with it tomorrow.

  25. Jess

    I’ve been making your recipes for years, but (I think) this is the first time I’m commenting. My family loved this bread. My 16 year old son pretty much ate the entire loaf, leaving a piece each for my daughter and husband. (I’m non-dairy, so I had to skip.) Here’s a request for a future recipe: since many of us will probably be having much smaller Thanksgivings this year, can you please give advice on roasting turkey parts instead of whole birds? Thank you! Your blog has been a source of joy, especially during this awful year.

  26. Laura P

    This looks great! I loved the list of other babkas you’ve made. I would like to add another to your list: I used the filling in the cheddar, beer, and mustard pull-apart bread to make a couronne for Christmas last year. It was a success and would make a great babka too!

  27. Sarafina

    Incredible election day distraction! I was looking for something to keep me busy – I used almond milk and earth balance to make it non dairy and it came out beautifully.

    1. Adithi

      I’m looking for a non-dairy version and was wondering if you just didn’t include the egg or replaced it with something else? Thanks!!

  28. Angela

    Mine just came out of the oven and I can’t wait to slice it! I think it’ll be perfect with my chicken and wild rice soup tonight! The dough did seem very stiff to me for an enriched dough so I added 2 tbsp of extra milk. No poppy seeds around for this spur of the moment project so I also substituted Everything Seasoning – 1 tsp inside and a sprinkling on top. I couldn’t wait so I’ve already sliced a warm piece…it’s so delicious!! Thanks, Deb!!

  29. Juka

    Can I use whole wheat bread flour for the all purpose? Does anyone have an idea?

    And this recipe came at the perfect time. Just when I was thinking of making a butternut squash soup!

    1. deb

      I haven’t made a whole wheat babka before — it could work, but it will seem more dry and firm. It will need more kneading. It might need more rising time. And it might need more moisture.

      1. Juka

        thanks! I swapped half of the AP out with whole wheat bread flour. I added maybe 2-3 tbsp more milk. I also kneaded for about 10 mins with hands till the dough was soft yet stretchy. (since I don’t have a kneading machine). The resulting bread was delicious. We’ve finished half the loaf already. We ate it with the butternut squash soup from Falastin.

  30. Barb Graf

    Incredible! The dough is so easy to work with. I roasted 2 heads of garlic and spread mashed cloves over dough; then sprinkled poppy seeds and grated romano cheese on top of garlic. Will make again and again!

  31. Adrianna

    Delicious, Deb! Thank you. I made this today and followed instructions exactly. It came out perfectly. A welcomed distraction.

  32. CB

    Made this last night. It distracted me from my work, my reorganization of the entry way closet, and…almost…watching the returns. But, I digress. It was delicious! I was worried because my house is cold, but I let it rise for longer than 2 hours and it turned out beautifully. I think I might try substituting sourdough starter for the yeast in the future. Didn’t have poppy seeds, but did have everything bagel seasoning and used that instead– don’t think the leftovers will last through today!

  33. deb

    I woke up to 50 beautiful bialy babkas in my Instagram DMs and a lot of comments here with rising concerns — oh no. I’m addition some additional tips to the recipe (how to use your oven to move it along), since I do find that instant yeast can be sluggish sometimes. You won’t see much of a size change, barely any, in the final 45 minute rise and that’s totally fine. We’re just giving the dough a little time to relax before it is baked.

  34. Sharyn

    When I added the milk and eggs to the melted butter, the butter seized up and now it’s a bunch of solid curdly clumps. Is it supposed to be like that? Do I proceed, or should I start over with warm milk, or adding the butter last?

  35. Anna

    Even though I didn’t get a big rise, I kept on with it and it came out beautiful, though not towering. The texture of the dough had shifted so much that even though I hadn’t gotten a lot of lift I felt comfortable just rolling it out. Just delicious. Perfect distraction yesterday.

  36. Chelsea

    I’ve made 6 loaves in 2 days (hi election stress baking). I can’t tell you how much I love this recipe. I didn’t have poppy seeds so I cut back the salt a little and subbed everything bagel seasoning. It’s incredible. Question- could this dough be adapted and used for chocolate babka? I noticed your recipe for the chocolate requires an overnight proof… could we sub the onion deliciousness for chocolate goodness without disaster for same day sweet treats?

    1. deb

      Yes; that dough is adapted from Ottolenghi. This is my go-to babka dough these days, and you can use it both places. You’ll want it sweeter — add another 3T sugar.

  37. Jessica Collind

    HMMM. I just started this dough and it’s so crazy tight I added some more milk. Is there really only 6 tbsp of milk plus the butter and eggs? I’ve added a few more tbsp but I’m wondering if there’s a misprint or some water or something missing.

  38. Amber Simmons

    This was the perfect bread to go with some homemade chicken noodle soup! I did have to let mine go a little longer (a full hour) and still probably could have left it a bit more, but I think that’s my terrible oven and the temperature in my kitchen. Also, I’m TERRIBLE at shaping dough, and this was my first babka and first time I ever shaped/twisted dough that it didn’t come out just a giant lump, so thank you for the video on Insta and the fabulous recipe!

  39. Miriam+Gross

    Delicious is not a strong enough description. An absolutely amazing rendition of a bialy. All the flavors are on point, and it’s just different enough to be unique. Bonus because it’s simple to make. A wonderful intersection of the sweet and savory sides of the Jewish bakery.

  40. Anna

    Deb, this looks amazing! I have a big package of active dry yeast for pandemic baking. Can you give advice on how to substitute? thanks!

  41. Ms. Anne Thrope

    I’ve been stress cooking all week…this was just what I needed, and it worked out amazingly. And I’m not much of a baker…My neighbor gave me some sauerkraut and sausage soup, am excited to eat!

  42. Caroline Taylor

    Made this tonight and it is beyond delightful- thank you Deb.

    Somewhat related: I dream of making kardemummabullar, but haven’t found a successful dough recipe. Do you think this one would work? Yeasted doughs never work out for me but this one did so I am keen for repeat success. (Alternatively if you made the kardemummabullar, I think my whole life would be made).

    1. deb

      It’s definitely on my list for later this winter, and I promise the dough will be this simple. However, I feel that to get the flavor just right, you really need high-quality fresh cardamom pods (trust me, we went to Fabrique for breakfast buns, I mean “research,” almost once a weekend this summer, lucky us) and I’ve been reticent to insist upon it in the recipe. I’ll get over it.

      1. Caroline Taylor

        Deb, you have brightened a very apprehensive election day +2; thank you. I’m so looking forward to seeing your recipe. Thanks for consistently making food I want to eat :)

        (And, having tried and failed to make the buns more times than I’d care to admit, I’d agree that the fresh pods are pretty non-negotiable if you want the right flavor).

      2. Juka

        thank you Caroline for asking and Deb for replying! I looked up Fabrique, realized they deliver, and had cardamom buns within half an hour to enjoy! They are so so yummy. The cardamom packs a punch and along with the pastry reminds me of something (a dessert) very, very Indian that for the life of me I can’t place! I am now going to have to describe the flavors in some detail to my mom to see if she can tell me what I am thinking of! (I do have to mention though that the very same punch that the cardamom packs and that made me go Oooooohhh, also prevented me from eating the whole thing at one go! I just can’t! I ended up eating my bun in two sittings). Anyhoo, thank you for mentioning!


    Well, my college-age daughter made it. She texted me from Montreal, where she goes to school, saying she needed to keep busy with a baking project. (She was nervous about the election.) I suggested this, it came out perfect! Roommates were thrilled.

  44. Carly

    I just made this and it looks and smells dreamy. Can’t wait to dig in. Mine also took longer in the oven – 60-65 mins. Worth the extra wait!

  45. Kyle

    You sabotaged this post with all the links! It took me three visits to get below the fold because I kept clicking on other things. Not sure how I missed your lasagna recipe all these years.

  46. Kimberly Peterson

    Wow. This is SOOOOO good. Like dream about and wake up early good. Thanks for all the great recipes, especially this one.

  47. Leah

    This was amazing! Had it for dinner with tomato soup and then the next morning with soft scrambled eggs on top. I didn’t have poppy seeds so I added about a half of a cup of a cheddar/gruyere blend. Just the distraction I needed!

  48. Eva

    Incredible, this is not what I expected at all. I mean, every single recipe I cooked from your blog turned out delicious so far. But this one – the fluffiness and velvetiness of the inside layers combined with the sweet-ish onions, then you get a bite of the crunchy and – not burned but – more intensely tasting onions… We indulge in this right now (like literally, I pulled the babka out of the oven 30 mins ago).
    I used caraway seeds instead of poppy seeds though, and what would you know – it tastes just perfect.

  49. Nadia

    This was delicious! I used the Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel seasoning because I didn’t have poppy seeds and it worked great. I can’t say I’ve ever tried a bialy or babka, but if this recipe is a mixture, I definitely want to try both!

  50. tei

    “Coat a standard loaf pan with butter or nonstick spray, and line the bottom and two sides with a sling of parchment paper for easier removal. ”

    I don’t quite understand why grease the pan and then line it with paper. What is the rationale behind this?

  51. Brittany

    I loved this! I was in a little bit of a hurry so I cut the dough differently (by folding it in 4ths instead of rolling, and cutting into 24 strips) and baked it in a muffin tin. They came out beautifully! Thank you!

  52. LitProf

    You were wonderful on Splendid Table yesterday! My kids want jars of caramelized onions and preserved lemons now. And they want to give pie crusts and apples and sugar as holiday gifts!

  53. Sarah M

    I made this over the weekend. It looked intimidating with the beautiful twist, but I found it to be pretty easy. The roll out went well, and making a perfect rectangle didn’t seem to matter much. Instead of poppy seed, I used everything seasoning and reduced the salt topping. My onions were a bit paler and a larger dice than the example pictures, it didn’t see to matter. I can’t imagine making it without everything seasoning, it was perfect. Like others, my bake time was a bit longer. I’m still chuffed that it came out so beautifully!

  54. So excited here in Vancouver ;-) Used my tenant’s contraption with dough hook – never used one in my life. I measured everything out on a gram scale – found I needed to add about 1 tbsp more of milk. The flour isn’t that fresh however so that may be why. It seems perfect and glossy! In the oven now with light on. Will report back later with the result – planning to use some aged Gouda (?) or maybe a bit of Irish cheddar as well….can hardly wait. Thanks Deb, and congratulations, my U.S. friends.

  55. Jess

    I made this to have with the chard and white bean stew tonight! I swapped the onion filling for everything bagel seasoning, and will definitely make sure to spread softened butter in the dough before sprinkling the topping, as it was a little dry and the layers are kind of pulling apart now it’s cooked. (Not sure how it will slice.)

    My dough didn’t rise very well, unfortunately, even with 45 minutes in the “proofing oven” as suggested. I still managed a nice big rectangle for filling, though.

  56. Oh my goodness. This may be the best thing I have EVER baked or cooked in my entire life. Had no poppy seeds, and didn’t use cheese – just onions. Next time I won’t use the food processor to chop as they were hard to brown but OMG it tasted so good. Just perfect.

  57. Erica McDonel

    I used active dry yeast, which “likes” to be proofed (woken up, basically) in warm (not hot) liquid. So I zapped the milk in the microwave for a moment, then proofed the yeast in it, and added that when mixing the dough.

    My oven has a “proof” setting for dough, and I had all the windows open to let in the warm weather today, so I tried that out. My dough rose splendidly!

    Final side note: I had duck eggs on hand (thanks to my stepson’s mom, who keeps a small flock and always has extra) and used those because they are basically jumbo eggs. Everything turned out great, in case anyone else was curious about making this very bougie substitution, hahaha!

  58. Paula

    Deb, you always come up with the best ideas. This is so good!
    I doubled the recipe because two babkas are better than one. I weighed the flour, and the dough mixed up too stiff. I added more milk to get the right consistency and had no problem with the rise, doubled in 1 hour. I rounded the dough and refrigerated for a couple of hours before shaping the loaves and it was very easy to braid, no time in the freezer.

  59. Judy Lehr

    Definitely a keeper!!!! I made the bialy babka this week. Not only is it rich and delicious, it is also a treat for the eyes – beautifully intricate. Next time I make it, I will roll the babka up (and “braid” it) even tighter so that it holds together better when it is cut. Also, when I put the final twist into the loaf pan, I will space it more evenly. My first try was a bit lopsided, but well worth the afternoon!

  60. amy

    this was a delicious project, and will definitely make again. it was time consuming, but not at all difficult. I (of course) forgot to put the poppy seeds inside. It reminded me of the ‘onion boards’ of my childhood.

  61. Diane Sweeney

    My family LOVED this bread…as did I! It brought back memories of my first trip to NYC with a dear friend and that was when I first tasted a Bialy…and although my attempt can never be as delicious as one made in NYC [because of your water] – it still brought back those memories. Thanks Deb!

  62. Jennie

    Just made this today and it is wonderful. My only issue, and it’s a small one, is that I could not slice this without it falling apart. Yes, I used a serrated knife and tried for thick slices, but each time I ended up with lots of (yummy!) pieces. Maybe my layers were too thick? Maybe it will be easier tomorrow when it’s not quite so fresh? Any suggestions would be welcome.

    Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes!

  63. Anna

    Each time you publish I cannot decide whether I love or hate you more ;)
    Just a hint you may be interested: bialy means “white” in Polish and babka is feminine in Polish (is it also the name of the cake, something like a tea cake, and – at the same time – “a woman” :) ). So, in Polish it should be białA babka (white babka).
    Take care!

  64. Nicole

    OH MY I made this today and it was a hit – it didn’t last long in the kitchen.
    My dough took a while to rise and I thought I had made a mistake so made a second dough. They both turned out fine which meant two babkas for me! I took some liberties with the second one and made a garlic/cheese babka :)

  65. Natalie

    I just finished making this on a cold, rainy Sunday and couldn’t be more happy with how it came out! The dough just kept rising and rising, and the whole thing was huge by the time I took it out of the oven. Loved the richness of the dough and how fluffy it is. I had a few little potatoes in the cabinet that needed to go, so I also spread an added a layer of mashed potatoes before putting the carmelized onions on top. Came out great!

  66. Jessica

    This was a delight! It has many steps and takes time, but it was well worth it. It happily reminded me of flaky onion rolls that I grew up eating from a Jewish bakery outside of Detroit – though this version was much more delicious : )

    I only had active yeast so used a helpful commenter’s suggestion of warming up the milk to activate. Also, I used a glass loaf pan so it took a bit longer to bake – probably an extra 7-10 minutes. The “if it doesn’t feel sticky” when removing the skewer tip worked perfectly.

  67. Ari

    Approximately how much of the finished onion does it take? I like to make big batches of caramelized onions and I’m wondering if I can just use some of those in here. Thanks!

  68. Erin Caro Aguayo

    This was one of the most delightful things to come out of our oven over the quarantine, and it’s been getting a pretty serious workout. The onions and poppy seeds with thin layers of light dough were satisfying on every level—pretty, delicious, and texturally delightful. I served it with some baked honeynut squash and called it dinner. Thank you!

  69. rachel

    yum. this was as scrumptious as i’d hoped it would be. i did the overnight rise in the fridge and used a hard wheat bread flour. i also added about a cup of leftover mashed honey nut squash to the onion mix once they were browned, which made the filling extra tasty. highly recommend!

  70. Rachel

    I made this a few days ago and it’s so good! If I want to double, will it work to use three whole eggs instead of two eggs and two yolks?

  71. Darcy Baker

    “When you’re rolling out the dough, just be sure to roll it slow, if you roll it out too quick Bialy Babka make you sick!” Name that show :)

  72. Jam

    I have made this a couple times, the first was a disaster bc I think I forgot to put the yeast in! Whoops. The second time I made it I made some minor changes that I think were for the better.

    First, I put the onions through the food processor rather than just chopping them up. Even the bits that didn’t get processed got chopped up super fine. This ended up giving the final caramelized onions a jammy consistency that I preferred. I also cooked them way longer than deb suggested so they’d end up really nice & brown.

    I wish I had a slightly smaller than regular loaf pan because the loaf really ends up about the size of a banana bread. It’s not very big. Anyway, make sure that when you roll it out you make it so it’s got a lot of rolls so you end up with a lot of layers.

    I had to bake it for closer to 75 minutes to get it done all the way through, and I temped it rather than rely on it “feeling” right bc it felt really soft even when it got to 185°. But after sitting for 30 minutes in the pan and another 30 after it had a great texture.

    Also one more thing I recommend isadding an egg wash because otherwise it turns out dull. The egg wash gave it a nice shiny top.

    It’s so good for breakfast w some butter. It’s all I’m going to eat today. Will make again!!

  73. Maro

    i made this for our holiday meal last week, and it’s absolutely delicious! i may have over-salted the onions a bit, but that’s fixed with a less-salty schmear.

  74. Marion McNurlen

    IMPORTANT NOTE. This recipe will NOT work with regular yeast, The process only works with quick rise. If you have regular yeast (as I did) you must first dissolve in warm water with a little sugar. Then add it to the flour. That works beautifully. But you can’t mix it in with the flour, it won’t rise.

    It is a really delicious recipe and worth the work!

  75. Emma

    Second attempt at making this today – I so want it to work! I know what I did the first time (no need to relive that totally avoidable mistake..) but this time I’m stumped. At first the dough was too dry/flaky, not coming together, more like a pie crust texture – so I added a bit more milk. Then it got sticky and tough, still not incorporating. I have now added a tiny bit more flour in case I over did it on the milk, and am trying to just keep kneading, but it is a heavy, solid-ish ball, not even attaching right to the dough hook. Any ideas??

    1. Marion

      Hmmm. My dough was ok. I’m afraid I don’t know. A little sticky shouldn’t be a problem once it rises but I’m not a frequent enough bread maker to problem solve the issue. So sorry. It is worth keeping at though.

      I imagine you could use any bread dough to get a close proximity, even frozen dough from the store. It’s the onions (plus I put a little cheese) that make it. Good luck.

    1. DeutschDomain

      Came here to see what the recommendation was for a non dairy version (I want to make it to have with a meat meal) and saw your post. Solidarity.

  76. Lisa Gihring

    So… I didn’t love this, and I really expected I would because I love caramelized onions. The bread part itself was lovely, but if I made this again, I would cut down the onions at least by a third and maybe even a half. I did make it with “everything bagel” seasoning (I used 1t because I was worried the flavor would be overpowering–next time I would use 2t or even a tablespoon). I also added some parmesan to enhance the flavor. Still, it was pretty meh. (And I usually love Deb’s recipes!)

  77. Sarah

    I accidentally posted this below as a comment to someone else, trying again!

    I’ve been making the “Better Chocolate Babka” over and over again all year. I currently have a batch proofing in the fridge, and just noticed this recipe. Do you think the filling from this one would work with the dough from the chocolate babka recipe? Or would the lemon zest and extra sugar be off putting here? Thoughts?

    Thank you for the recipes. They have made this year so much better!

  78. Andrea

    I made this for Christmas breakfast and we ate it warm with whipped cream cheese (and my boyfriend added gravlax). Oh my GOSH it was delicious! SO amazing! Worth the effort and time. I made my dough the night before and left it in the fridge overnight before proofing and baking.

  79. Connie

    Oh. My. Stars. This was over-the top delicious! It looks so impressive and hard, but with your perfect directions, it was so easy. I made this for Christmas morning; we noshed on this and my first try at povitica, while waiting for everyone to wake up. Best Christmas morning ever! I added some gruyere with the onions and this, just warm with butter was all my dreams come true. Its crusty and crunchy and soft and chewy and scrumptious. Thank you for a keeper! I am not waiting for a whole year to make this again…

  80. Dana

    Question for Deb and my experienced SK followers…. I hesitate to ask, as I’ve no interest in jacking the integrity of what’s assuredly a nearly (if not completely) perfect recipe. But I will because I have a loved one with some strict dietary restrictions…. Would use of whole wheat flour be disastrous? (Whether complete replacement or partial.) And a bit of honey to replace the sugar? Appreciate any thoughts or testimonials.

    1. deb

      For whole wheat flour, in general, it can take longer to knead, need less baking time, and can seem a bit more dry with a full 1:1 swap. But that doesn’t mean you will not enjoy the result, just keep these things in mind and definitely don’t skip any of the butter.

  81. Pam

    I made this for Thanksgiving appetizers because I couldn’t help myself. I added Comte cheese because once you suggested cheese I couldn’t NOT. French onion bread? Yes please! It was incredible and the talk of our already elaborate spread of favorites. I added a generous cup of shredded cheese and added about 15 minutes to the baking time. I think it could have used another 5 or so more baking minutes since the cheese added so much moisture and just wanted to alert others to take this into consideration if you go this route (and really you SHOULD). If I was dedicating more time to this recipe I would have been more diligent with my cooking time but even so there was nothing but praise- even if the center slices had a raw top. Will absolutely make again. Thank you Deb!

  82. Lucy Cook

    I’ve made the dough and it was super dry. Used salted butter, skim milk plus some half n half. Added about teaspoon more milk but still pretty dry. Thoughts??

  83. EJ

    This is AMAZING!!! In a weird turn of events I did not have milk but did have buttermilk, so I used that instead and would highly recommend it! My dough was stiffer/less stretchy than Deb’s before resting but it relaxed and rose beautifully. Also put in two tablespoons of poppy seeds instead of two teaspoons by accident but did not regret it! I feel like I would opt for somewhere in the middle, maybe 1-1.5 tablespoons.

  84. Ellen

    I want to make this to serve tomorrow morning at a brunch. At what point can I cover and either put it in the fridge or the freezer and then bake in the morning. That way my house will have the yummy fresh baked smell and it will be warm when I serve it. Thanks.!

  85. Patti Orr

    Love love love your cookbooks, however, the first recipe I tried was this one, the Bialy Babka. I followed the instruction perfectly. My yeast is good, I tested it. Yet the dough did not rise. I have no idea why, I have a proofing oven so it’s not the temp. I have the onions made but no dough, so I am making a quick dough in the bread machine and will use that. It is for a b-day gift and as I said, the onions are waiting. I felt funny about adding the yeast to the melted butter etc before the flour, but followed the recipe, Any thoughts?

  86. Sacha B (she/her)

    I baked this for brunch today and served it with cream cheese and lox. Delicious!

    I prepared the loaf through the shaping step yesterday morning, covered it, and tossed it in the fridge. This morning I left it on the counter for an hour before baking and used a thermometer to gauge doneness. Worked like a charm! Took an extra 15–20 minutes but I tented it with foil at the end and had no issues.

    I’d love to try another savory one with everything bagel seasoning! I have never made a babka before, not even a sweet one, but I have made cinnamon rolls and I trust your recipes, Deb, so I dove in without fear. Thanks!