Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What? You've Never Had a Bialy?

Why is it that no one outside the New York metropolitan area seems to know what a Bialy is? Among New Yorkers and Jews everywhere, the bialy is the exalted deep-dish cousin to the plain old NY bagel. Though both originated in Poland, the bialy sports onions right inside the dough, and it's pitted center is filled with sauteed onions and plenty of poppy seeds. I've always preferred these to regular bagels, and now that I know how quick they are to make, I expect they will become a Sunday morning staple in our house.

This bialy recipe, from Baking with Julia, was simpler even than making bagels -- it omits the boiling step and bakes for just 10-12 minutes. The recipe calls for a full teaspoon of pepper in the dough, which added tons of flavor, but proved a bit strong. Next time I'll reduce the pepper to just 1/2 tsp. for more balance. But either way you do it, you'll be fine. Just remember to poke holes -- lots and lots of holes -- in your dough before baking, and you're all set.

Bialystock and Bloomin' Onions: first attempt.

Poke lots and lots of holes. Or else you'll end up with a big poof (Which is appropriate for The Producers, but not for a bialy.)
In the meantime, you should know that bialys are named for Bialystok, Poland, which of course brings to mind the classic Mel Brooks movie/play, The Producers. Throughout the shaping, baking and serving of these bialys, I couldn't help singing to myself in a high pitched voice, over and over again: "Bialystok and Bloom, Bialystok and Bloom!" (Though I passed on the miniskirt and gogo dancing -- much to my husband's disappointment.)

Inevitably, the word bialy spins me into a vortex of 1960's movie images involving Nazis, comb-overs, pretzel bras and lederhosen. Thus I feel obliged to take a moment to reflect upon these classic quotes from The Producers. See if you can recall:
  • "I'm not so sure about this year. I'm supposed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, but I think I look more like the Chrysler Building."
  • "Hold me, touch me. Hold me, touch me. Where is hold me, touch me?"
  • "Ulla dance!" 
Baked bialys, properly poked.
And of course, in the middle of yet another snowstorm, we could all use a little "springtime" pick-me-up. (Go ahead, you know you want to follow the link.)

For more detailed accounts of the bialy-making experience, visit the other bloggers from Tuesdays with Dorie. For the recipe, buy the book.

My favorite phood photo yet!


  1. Love the stacked bialys! Looks wonderful. I hadn't heard of bialys before making them. Gotta say, I'm a fan now!!

  2. Your second attempt is what I was expecting! Nothing close - even spreading the middle very thin and poking the heck out of it. Oh well, still tasted delicious. Your first photo looks bakery perfect!

  3. Yes, the second round of shaping worked out better here (blooming onion is an accurate descriptor for my first round as well :-) )

    I was surprised at how regional these seem to be too - although, I am sure there are plenty of things I have absolutely no clue about that the rest of the world loves.

    I like your bialys stack (or is it Bialystock!)

    Stay warm down there! (and safe)

  4. OK, now I can't get "Bialystock and Bloom" out of my head.

  5. Your bialys looks delicious...I am one of those people who had no idea what these where but they ended up being delicious! :)


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