I had to Google "bialy" to find out what a traditional bialy really is, and I learned that this Polish yeast bun is traditionally filled with onion, poppy seed, garlic, or breadcrumbs.
Today's recipe, which can be found on pages 90-92 in Baking With Julia, is from contributing baker Lauren Groveman. In the world of yeast breads and rolls, this is straight forward, and can be made from start to finish in less than four hours total, including prep time and clean up.
The recipe begins by sautéing minced onions in shortening (though I opted for olive oil instead). Some of the onions are then incorporated into the sponge (water, yeast, a wee bit of sugar, pepper, and flour) while the rest are mixed with poppy seed and black pepper and set aside for the topping. The sponge is allowed to rest and rise for a little more than an hour. The dough is then finished with additional flour and salt and covered for a second rise.
The bialys are formed by dividing the dough into 12 pieces, shaping into rounds, then pressing indentations in the centers. The centers are pricked with a fork, then filled with the onion and poppy seed mixture.
The dough just wants to continue rising, and once in the 500 degree oven, the bialys puff right up again! Tossing ice cubes in the bottom of the super hot oven gives the exterior of the bialys a crunchy exterior at first, but as they cool, the bialys soften. After a quick 10 minutes at 500 degrees, the oven temp is reduced to 450 and the bialys continue baking for another 5 minutes. (Mine needed a wee bit longer.)
The aroma from these buns was absolutely amazing. I simply could NOT resist one, warm from the oven. Seriously, who can resist warm bread, anyway??
The texture of the bun is a cross between a bagel, a soft pretzel, and a yeast dinner roll. Chewy, slightly dense, yet still airy. The sweetness of the sautéed onions is delicious! I'm not sure what the poppy seed add to the flavor, but they're pretty enough.
The kids enjoyed the buns.....but dug out the onion filling and left that on their plates. My culinarily-creative 12 year old daughter asked me to cut out the onion filling and replace it with strawberry jam this morning for breakfast. Brilliant!
All in all, I love this recipe, and will surely make it again. My family enjoyed the onion bialys alongside our crab cake and roasted asparagus dinner last night, but I think they would be a perfect accompaniment to a hearty bowl of soup as well.
For the recipe, please check out some of my fellow TWD bloggers here! (Yes, I'm too lazy today to write out the entire recipe......shame on me.)