Bialys? They’re Greek to me

bialys

What’s your favorite hot-bread memory?

Butter-slathered cinnamon toast, set before you by your smiling mom as you seated your grumpy, school-bound self at the table?

Tender, golden cornbread, mopped through hot bacon grease in a cast-iron skillet?

Or how about a simple dinner roll, soft as a pillow and gold as sunset, plucked hot from the cloth-covered basket on your grandmother’s Thanksgiving table?

My hot-bread memories include all of the above. But my very favorite is a bit edgier. And certainly much darker. Dark as midnight, as a matter of fact.

As a financially strapped college student back in the ’70s, I early on decided the school’s meal plan was for the birds – which is where their bread should have ended up every day, stale as it was. Armed with a mini-fridge in my room and a two-burner stove in the dorm lounge, I was able to feed myself pretty well on tacos, spaghetti, and Kraft macaroni and cheese enhanced with sliced hot dogs (don’t laugh – I love it to this day!).

One problem: there wasn’t a bakery near enough campus to satisfy my hot-bread jones. The best I could manage, back in my pre-yeast days, was to detonate one of those pressurized cans of biscuits and make what inevitably turned into hard little nuggets of over-baked badness.

NOT satisfying.

One cold winter midnight, trudging home from the library, I decided to abandon the main drag, with its all-night diner serving the BEST pecan pie – remember, money was an issue here. I cut down a side street, congratulating myself for successfully avoiding temptation, and almost immediately ran into a boy carrying a white bakery bag.

A BAKERY BAG. My mouth started to water. How could I have missed the presence of a bakery just blocks from my dorm? I looked around me – everything was dark. Except for the glow coming from the steamed-up windows of the basement-level shop in front of me.

I took the three steps down, opened the door, and found Nirvana: a Greek coffee shop.

A counter with stools. Four booths. A griddle with sizzling burgers, bacon, sausages. And one of those food-service toasters, the kind where a conveyor belt grabs whatever needs warming and spits it out the other end, toasted.

I quickly took it all in. Not a bakery. But, the bakery bag… I fastened on the toaster. Bagels, toast, English muffins, and… something else. Something that might have been an onion roll, only it was too flat. And the fried onions were collected in a center depression, not scattered throughout.

I tentatively asked the counterman for “one of those onion things.”

“Bialy,” he said.

Bialy? That was Greek to me. “Sure, whatever.”

“Butter?”

Hot, buttered bread? Absolutely.

Two minutes later, my bialy having made its way along the conveyor, it was slathered with butter, wrapped in a piece of waxed paper, and tucked into a BAKERY BAG. Things were definitely looking up.

The hot bialy warmed my mitten-clad hands as I jogged the final blocks home, melting butter leaving translucent grease blots on the bag. In my room, I drew the still-warm bialy out of the bag and took a bite.

The taste of caramelized onions, melted butter, and hot bread – my first experience with a bialy – crystallized into what is, to this day, my favorite hot-bread memory.

“Hey, a bialy!” exclaimed my roommate, a Tel Aviv native/New Jersey transplant who immediately recognized my treasure. “Got another one?”

“Nope,” I mumbled ungenerously, still consumed; it was love at first bite. And for once, I wasn’t sharing.

Warning: the following bialy is NOT a classic New York City bialy. It’s a reconstruction of a Greek coffee shop bialy, Providence, R.I., ca. 1973.

So Kossar me no Kossar’s. Don’t hand me the “anything other than H & H is heresy” line.

This is my bialy story, and I’m sticking with it.

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Looking for that signature chewy texture of a real bialy? Use what the pros use: high-gluten flour. Sir Lancelot is King Arthur’s highest gluten bread flour.

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Boy, did I go through a lot of incarnations of this recipe before I reached the final version! The above shows the results of a test using different shaping/baking methods. The winner? #8. At least for shaping/baking. I made additional changes in the ingredients in order to reach the recipe you’ll read below.

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Combine 3 cups Sir Lancelot High-Gluten Flour, 1 teaspoon instant yeast, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water. Mix till cohesive…

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…then switch to the dough hook and knead till smooth, about 7 minutes in a stand mixer.

Can you use a bread machine set on the dough cycle? Of course. Can you knead by hand? If you’re a really good kneader; high-gluten doughs are tough to fully develop by hand, but go for it if you’re game.

OK, I can hear those questions flying in already – can I use all-purpose flour? Yes; you’ll want to reduce the liquid by a couple of tablespoons. And you won’t get a classic chewy bialy, though it’ll still taste good.

“Can I use whole wheat flour?” Yes. You won’t be making a classic bialy; you’ll be making a flat whole-wheat roll with onions in the center. If that’s what you want – go for it!

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Place the dough in a lightly greased container, and cover it while you prepare the filling.

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Peel and dice 2 medium-large onions. Place them in a hot frying pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil.

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Fry the diced onion over high heat; it’ll brown very quickly, so stir often. Fry till it’s a dark golden brown, with even darker charred bits. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt, stir to combine, and remove from the heat. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.

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After 90 minutes, your dough should have risen nicely.

Start preheating your oven to 450°F.

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Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball.

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Cover the balls after they’re shaped, to prevent them drying out.

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Shape four of the pieces into 4” to 5” circles, each with a small rim.

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Place the shaped circles on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to snip a 1” hole in the bottom of each bialy; this will help keep their centers flat.

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Evenly spread the filling into the center of each bialy – the part defined by the rim. A tablespoon cookie scoop is a good measuring tool here.

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Top the bialys with a sheet of parchment or aluminum foil; then with another baking sheet. You want to weigh them down, so they don’t puff up into round balls as they bake.

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Place the “sandwiched” bialys in the oven. I know, it looks weird. Work with me here.

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After 4 minutes, remove the baking sheet and parchment. The bialys will be set enough that they won’t rise any farther.

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Bake for an additional 7 minutes, or until they’re a dappled brown.

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Like this. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

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I like my bialys warm, with butter. Probably not traditional; but this is the way they served them at that Greek coffee shop. I don’t miss the studying, but I sure miss the bialys! Last time I was in Providence, I found the coffee shop had been replaced by a high-rise. Sigh…

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Bialys.

Buy vs. bake

Buy: Kossar’s Bialys, Lower East Side, New York, NY: 90¢ ea.

Bake at home: Bialys, 35¢ ea.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Brenda

    Darn, and I’ve been doing so well resisting all the “goodies”. Suspect this’ll get a try soon’s I have the combination of time and cooler weather (but I’m NOT complaining–SO thankful summer’s finally arrived in Northern Maine!).

    Finally made it to your store when visiting my brother in NH, but you were out of ancient grains flour; we waited for boiled cider to arrive from the warehouse, and spent WAAAAAAY to much, but did get a start on Christmas gifts.

    Welcome to the “sunny South” of New Hampshire, Brenda – where in Maine? I lived in Camden for 14 years – that’s southern Maine, I realize – Limestone? PI? Fort Kent? Madawaska? PJH

    Reply
  2. ecentipede

    hot onion bialy with melted butter was my go-to comfort food at the coffee shop around the corner from work… i am SO excited to try making these for myself the next time i’m having a bad day. and then inviting everyone over to share and fix their bad days with me.

    thanks for the recipe and the wonderful story.

    Let’s all fix out bad days together – bialys with butter will do it… PJH

    Reply
  3. Heidi

    They look soooo good. Can you use bread flour? A friend of mine loves bialys and she’s been having a few bad days. I thought I would make her some.

    Sure, cut back on the water a tablespoon or so. They should be fine – PJH

    Reply
  4. Catherine D.

    Eew, so not a bialy! Where’s the white rye? And served hot? Eew, it’s as bad as the alleged bagel I had in Minnesota.

    Catherine, remember, I said right up front that this is not a Kossar’s, H & H, NYC bialy… Try it, you might even like it! PJH

    Reply
  5. Mags

    It’s 10:30 p.m. here and I’m strugging to make myself wait until tomorrow to make these. Never heard of bialys before, but can’t wait to try this.

    I actually have Sir Lancelot flour on hand! I use it for bagels. Do these bialys have that kind of bagely chewy thing going on?

    Yes, Mags, they do have that bagel texture, but flattened and not quite as dense – they’ll feel quite light in your hand, while retaining the chewiness. Enjoy – PJH

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  6. Rosa

    Those Bialys look fantastic and so tasty!

    Eating freshly-baked and warm hot crossed buns in England, with my grandparents. That is one of my favorite hot bread memories…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    Reply
  7. Stan

    After years of pleading, cajoling and attempted bribery, a highly anonymous source at Kossar’s let me copy their bialy recipe (NOT the one you find on the web.)
    If you’d like a comparison, I’m taking the astounding Artisan Bread course at KAF right now. Look for the guy covered in flour

    Stan, I’d love your feedback sometime – I don’t have any bialys on hand now, they’re gone, but I’d like your thoughts on Kossar’s vs. KA’s recipe. And in the meantime – have fun in class!!! PJH

    Reply
  8. Karen

    In college I studied in Hungary for a semester. There they served Langos from the street vendors outside the supermarket and other shops. A bit like a savory elephant ear they are deep fried and then topped with sour cream of creme freche and garlic. I’ve never been able to duplicate it.
    I also can not duplicate Navajo fry bread that is my husband’s favorite from a church pilgrimage with the youth group (but it’s hard to duplicate something you’ve never eated!)

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  9. Tanya

    dear Stan
    I am always on the quest for the “Authentic” especially as I am not American myself. Please, pretty please, could you share with me? Unfortunately, I am not in a position to offer my firstborn but you see how desperate I am! In the meantime, I’m making the one from KAF and looking forward to it. Merci, baie dankie, thanks!

    Reply
  10. Jeri Hurd

    Sounds great! I have KA bread flour, would adding vital wheat gluten approximate the Sir Lancelot? We don’t have it here, and I don’t want to wait 4 days the online order would take! : ) How much should I add?

    Sorry, Jeri, haven’t tried adding vital wheat gluten. Try adding 1 tablespoon per cup; that’s what I’ve suggested to Danne, who had the same question. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  11. Huggie

    A happy moment for me was watching a 80 something lady Mrs,Kluis make dinner rolls stuffed with bacon and onions..Wow they were great…Now i make them in memory of her and all my family members love them also…When i skipped making them for a holiday i was in trouble…keep the house smelling great…

    Reply
  12. Deanne

    I took a trip to Manhattan last winter and made a pilgrimage to Kossar’s hoping to taste a true Bialy. (My grandfather had emigrated from Bialystock where Bialys were created.) Boy, what a disappointment. They were stale and tasteless. I bought one in the Whole Foods nearby (not sure whose it was) and it was better. I’ve been looking at various recipes to make my own and plan to try yours soon. Can I add some gluten to my bread flour to approximate the Sir Lancelot Flour?

    Deanne, you can add gluten, sure. I haven’t tried it yet, but try adding 1 tablespoon gluten per cup, see what happens – and let us know how it works, OK? Good luck – PJH

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  13. Hal

    I could smell them, I could taste them and I will bake them. Nice piece of writing and an equally great recipe, I hope.

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  14. Pam

    Gosh…I swear…lol!!….you REALLY need to open a bakery! Yumm-o and VERY well done, as ALWAYS!

    Thanks, Pam – maybe our King Arthur Bakery needs to sell bialys? :) PJH

    Reply
  15. sandy

    Can I add vital wheat gluten to regular flour to imitate the Sir Lancelot flour that is recommended??????

    Haven’t tried it – if you have King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, try adding 1 1/2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten per cup of flour – see how it works, and let us know. Thanks – PJH

    Reply
  16. Fran

    Although these are not NY bialy’s, they do look interesting. I have made Kossar’s recipe from Artisan Baking Across America. They are authentic, yummy and easy – done in the food processor. Bialy’s were my all time favorite as a kid in Brooklyn – then bagels.

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  17. mikelib

    A Typical New York Bialy Story.
    Many years ago, I purchased Bagels and Bialys from an Orthodox Jewish Bake Goods Store on East Houston Street a couple of stores south of the famous Katz Deli. One day they were not open, I managed to find out where the actual bakery was located. I went to the bakery and walked in, two Orthodox Jewish bakers were shaping bialys on a flour board. I asked if I can purchase a half of dozen bialys, one of the bakers said the owners will be right with you. I was floored when out of the back room an elderly Korean couple came out to sell us the bialys.

    The bialys were scrumptious they looked like the ones marked number 2 in your picture, and they used reconstituted dried onions. I will try your recipe and rate it.

    Great story on your introduction to bialys. Keep up the good work.

    Thanks, Mike – I tried the reconstituted dried onions at first, but much preferred the (inauthentic) fresh-fried onions. I look forward to your rating! PJH

    Reply
  18. Suzanne

    Nice looking foccacia! This looks delicious but nothing like a bialy. Kossar’s look nothing like this! See a photo of a bona fide bialy here: http://www.limeduck.com/2008/02/01/bialy/ Now this is a picture of a real bialy! Make them smaller with a small hole with vary spare onions. Kossar’s has the best bialys and the standard as far as I am concerned.

    Remember, Suzanne, I said this is a Greek coffee shop interpretation – not bona fide, not Kossar’s. Hope you might try and enjoy them anyway! PJH

    Reply
  19. Jessica

    Is there some way to retard these overnight? I want to make them for an 8am breakfast without having to wake up at 5 am.

    Should I try retarding them after shaping, and make the filling while they warm up from the fridge?

    Jessica, that sounds like a good plan. Shape them, but don’t let them rise; then continue as you suggest. I think that’ll work just fine – PJH

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  20. Nel

    Deanne, thanks for explaining that bialys come from Bialystok! I’m sitting here in Poland wondering why these things are called ‘whites’ (‘bialy’ is ‘white’ in Polish, though it’s pronounced bee-OW-ee). Never thought of Bialystok. I’ve got a friend from there, but alas, he will have to go through his bad days sans bialys, since he’s gluten intolerant. Next time I’m in a bakery here I’ll have to look at the name of a Polish thing that looks very much like this, only larger and flatter. Onions in the middle (sauteed until soft and white, and rather scant – I always look for one with more onion) and sprinkled lightly with poppyseeds. I love them, but have never actually registered what they are called. I wonder if the Poles call them ‘bialy’ or something else? So now I’m on a linguistic/culinary quest.

    Reply
  21. Brenda

    I’m in Caribou. Camden is good–when we were kids, we often vacationed in the Camden/Rockport area. Many fond memories there!

    Ah yes, Caribou – you are definitely up there! All good, though – I love Maine. There’s good reason they call it “The Great State of…” PJH

    Reply
  22. Florence Bruscemi

    Wow? Just found out you had a blog. It is great.
    Thank you for this blog. I will go into it again and again.

    Welcome, Florence! Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  23. Ray E.

    I loved the story, the method and recipe. I will try the Bialys as published, then I think I will experiment, adding black olives, or raisins, or both to the onion mixture. I am sure they are perfect on their own. The recipe looks easy enough. When the recipe said snip a one inch hole in the bottom, I was relieved to discover it meant a slit. Ray

    Sounds good, Ray – I especially like the raisin option. I’ve always been a fan of the sweet/salty thing… thanks for sharing your ideas. PJH

    Reply
  24. benita

    Those aren’t Bialy’s – they are kolaches. Where i come from kolaches are generally sweet but there are savory varieties as well. Sausage or hamburger in combination with onions. Lots of onions. And kolache dough is never chewy. It is soft and a bit sweeter than regular bread. But poppyseed kolaches are my favorite.

    Sorry, Benita, the flour/water/yeast/salt doesn’t add up to kolache dough – as you say, they’re soft/tender, with eggs, butter, milk… Though you’re right, kolaches do look something like these bialys. Thanks for your comment – PJH

    Reply
  25. Joy Dhar

    Mimi Sheraton wrote the book, The Bialy Eaters – The Story of a Bread and a Lost World. The book has a year 2000 copyright and is well worth finding a copy to read. I got my copy from Barnes and Noble. To order Kossar’s bialy’s, their website is http://www.kossarsbialys.com or through e-mail (mail@kossarsbialys.com. Ms. Sheraton also devised a recipe for bialy’s in her book, with the help of the bakers at Kossar’s. They warned her that she would not get results that exactly matched the bakery’s, because of the difference in the ovens and because dough develops differently in large batches.
    Joy in GA

    Thanks, Joy, I’ve read Mimi’s book – it’s a great read. I’ve chosen to make an inauthentic bialy, one matching my memories, not mimicking Kossar’s. For those of you wanting to make a Kossar’s bialy for comparison, check out The Bialy Eaters. PJH

    Reply
  26. Susan Montaperto

    I haven’t had bialys in years! I used to work at a company where one of the computer programmers would bring them in occasionally from New York City for breakfast snacks. I’m now a stay-at-home Mom who loves to bake various kinds of bread. So, I can’t wait to try and bake bialys at home.

    Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply
  27. SHIRLEY W

    I also just found out you had a “blog”. This is great.. Even though I am 73 years young, I love to try new baking ideas, and this is one I sure am going to try. My sister & brother-in-law live in New York city, can’t wait until they visit me, so I can make these for them.

    Reply
  28. Paula Crinklaw

    I love the adaptations of recipes presented here. People, it’s food, not a critical world detente issue. Relax and try something new. Isn’t the disclaimer at the beginning a hint to you know-it-all New Yorkers that these recipes are an interpretation of one’s fond memories…so stop stepping all over this and take a breath and enjoy the sweet smell of something wonderful baking in the oven. I’ve had all the New York “standards” and sometimes a change of pace is just what the soul needs. Be happy and let it go!

    My feeling exactly, Paula; each to his own, and live and let live. “Inauthentic” doesn’t mean “bad;” nor does “not like my mother made it” mean “not the right way.” Cooking and baking are all about change and growth, while still honoring the classics. I honor the Bialystok tradition, as carried forth in NYC; and I’m happy I can make an Americanized variation on that tradition available to people all over the U.S., people who will NEVER go to Kossar’s. Thanks for jumping in here! PJH

    Reply
  29. Denise in Kent, WA

    These look delicious! Thanks for the recipe. I’ve not kept up reading the blog lately (shame on me) but the mere mention of “bialy” in the latest KAF email had me over here in an instant. LOL

    I’ve never had the NYC variety, but I tried them at a local Noah’s Bagels and fell in love. I plan to add poppy seeds to mine, though. :)

    I actually did have poppy seeds in some of the versions, Denise, and they’re good – I simply forgot to add in the final version. So go for it! PJH

    Reply
  30. Lee Nicol

    Here Here Paula! I agree totally. There is nothing more fun than exploring the variations of a classic that make the version that comes out “your own”. It is exactly what those people did in Poland, near that cold, dreary port in Northeastern Europe. They probably had several versions depending on what was available to them, and they made it as enjoyable as could be, as a simple offering on a daily basis that people could count on as a satisfying quick bite as they made their way to work, or through the streets to buy goods. That is what interests me the most, as I have read the various mentionings of the book, “The Bialys Eaters” and what their contribution to that society meant to all who were there. Food memories do bind us all together, and isn’t that powerful?

    Well said, Lee. That’s one of the things I love about this job – the connections we make – worldwide – through the foods we love. Thank YOU for connecting! PJH

    Reply
  31. greta

    They look GREAT. I haven’t made them, but the picture makes me want to try it sometime………Relax people, it’s only a recipe :-)

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  32. Beth

    PJ, just had to comment on your hot dogs in the Kraft mac and cheese. 20+ years ago, when my 2 young stepsons would come for the weekend, before I started making mac and cheese from scratch, I would rush home from work and throw that concoction together. It was pretty darn good. (Did you ever add tuna to the mac and cheese? I liked that even better than cut-up hot dogs!).

    Beth, I did do a Tuna Wiggle version (as they call it in Maine). And I also would get fancy and add fried onions/peppers to the hot dog version. MMM-MMMMM! :) PJH

    Reply
  33. Barbara Brown

    I have been searching for a Bialy recipe for quite a while. Despite the fact that these are not truly authentic, I think I can fudge them to be closer to the real thing I remember from bakeries in the Bronx as a child. Stew Leonard’s [the dairy people in NY and CT] have come up with a pretty good version in the bakery in their Yonkers store, and just the other day I found some in my local A&P grocery bakery department that weren’t half bad either.

    Barbara, I think the bread part of these is as close to “the real thing” as anything you’ll find (minus the rye, which some add). It’s the filling that veers way off course. So try the dough recipe, but change the filling to your “truly authentic” version. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  34. Jana

    I LOVED the story, I am thinking you write “Bread Porn” I have to try this recipe with the best back story. Thanks for wonderful entertainment and great recipes!

    Reply
  35. SteveB

    Like some other people who have commented, I, too, grew up in Brooklyn and the following bialys are virtually identical to what I remember eating as a young boy:

    http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=185

    Steve, interestingly, Maggie and I have come up with nearly identical dough. Same ingredients, but her hydration is 65.5%, while mine is 66.7% – “statistically insignificant,” as they’d say, to the home baker. Mine is a tad more salty, too. Where we differ is the filling. Maggie’s 1/4 teaspoon onion in the center is simply WAY too little for my taste. I know, our version here is inauthentic for that reason – AND, oh-so-tasty! Thanks for you comment – PJH

    Reply
  36. Maria

    Where in Providence, RI did you find these? I’m just curious. I live on the eastside and there’s decent baklava but I’ve yet to find bialys like the ones you describe.

    Alas, the coffee shop’s gone (but not forgotten), Maria – it was on a side street between Thayer and Hope, just north of the Brown Sci-Li. PJH

    Reply
  37. Lauren

    I’m wondering about what sort of flour to use as I don’t have the Sir Lancelot. My options at home are all-purpose, KA Italian-style flour, KA Pizza Blend flour, or KA European Artisan flour. I can’t wait to try these!

    Lauren, I would try either our All-Purpose or European Artisan flour for this. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  38. Lee

    Brenda, my grandparents and dad grew up in Caribou. My uncle lived in that old farmhouse and barn downtown that used to be the vet’s, Dr. Pratt, until it was torn down after the last family member passed away! Small world :)
    PJ – my daughter and I were reading the blog yesterday while waiting in the dentist’s office and she said it looked great except for the onions. (she’s not a fan) Would we be blacklisted for putting a little sauteed ground sausage or feta cheese on top instead?

    Sounds like a great “regional variation” in the making. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

    Well, some might blacklist you – certainly not I! sounds delicious, Lee… PJH

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  39. Anne Tremblay

    Ohhhhhh….so much for dieting! Have lost every trace of willpower on this one. Can’t wait to try these! Thanks for sharing!

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  40. Steve harkavy

    Listen folks Real NYrs will schmear cream cheese on the top. Don’t split them open horizontally, don’t makke in to pizzas as found in various Wegman’s supermarkets, and don’t let them stay too long as they will turn into bialy hockey pucks.

    Well, Steve, cream cheese sounds good. Is it kosher (in the idiomatic sense) to warm them up first? :) PJH

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  41. Lana Pitts

    This post is in response to Karen’s dilemma about Navaho fry bread. It’s really very easy, and there is a good website called http://www.keepamericacooking.com that has a recipe and pictures of the final product. I live in Oklahoma, and fry bread is used as the base for Indian Tacos, which are sold at practically every festival and event in the state. However, a layer of pinto beans is usually added on top of the meat, and it’s topped with sour cream and salsa. Hope this helps – you are in for a treat!
    P.J., I really love your blog! So many recipes – so little time, but I will definitely have to find time to make the bialys. Keep up the good work!

    Thanks for your kind words, Lana. The link you gave is broken, and I can’t find the Web site by cutting/pasting. But here’s a recipe for Navajo Fry Bread from another site. Hope you guys like it – PJH

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  42. Steve

    Well, this certainly brings back fond memories. My Dad was a real “Bialy King” and by the time I was 11 years old I was baking bialys in his store in Canarsie. 75 press, 225 dozen in 6 hours. That was a typical day. I’m proud of my Dad for his creativity in making bialys wheels, sticks, loaves and of course there was nothing better than a hot bialy out of the 6 foot 510 degree oven. I could go on an on. Whomever started this site and used the name Arthur – thank you – that was my dad’s name.

    Thanks for sharing, Steve. What were the sticks? Bialy dough made into sticks, or…? Did you do “pletzels?” The King Arthur Flour Company is 219 years old, founded in 1790; we started the Web site in 1995. Cheers to all the Arthurs out there, including your dad! PJH

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  43. joisy mike

    Boy, you sure touched a raw nerve with this recipe. Yet you brush off each detractor with nothing but class – way to go. How come folks don’t go as nuts over what sometimes is passed off as pizza in this country?

    I’m off to bake~

    Mike – I’d guess pizza touches less of a raw nerve because it’s just so ubiquitous – Chicago has their style, NYC their style, and then the national chains have their own styles… It would be like saying, “THAT’S not the way to make a hamburger!” Thanks for your support! PJH

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  44. Tom

    These look great. Question about the filling: usually when you saute onions you add the salt at the beginning to help pull moisture out. What was the idea behind adding the salt after frying the onions?

    Tom, just because I wasn’t sure of the amount and wanted to add to taste – which is harder if you add before sautéeing. Good question, though – PJH

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  45. joisy mike

    With regard to pizza, I was alluding to the concepts of the “Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana” and their strict guidelines for what defines a pizza. Everything else is heresy! Except of course, your sublime dough recipes~!

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  46. Kenn

    I too must comment on the mac-n-cheese. Try boiling a cut-to-fit-the-pot Hillshhire Sausage Link in a large pot and when sufficienly heated through DON’T throw out the water. The water is flavored and will dispense that flavor into the macaroni. Remove the sausage to a cutting board and start the macaroni with an added cup of small elbow macaroni. while the mac is coming to a boil and cooking to perfection, cut the sausage into bite size chunks. When the mac is perfected do your thing with the cheese but add one heaping tablespoon of King Arthur cheese powder. The results is a delicious meal that for this old man lasts and lasts much to long.

    Sounds good. Mary @ KAF

    Kenn, now you have me thinking kielbasa… thanks! PJH

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  47. Joyce

    Stan, will you share your recipe for the Kossar’s biayl with us Please? I was just there a few weeks ago(visiting my aunt) so I stopped by to get the biayls and the flatbread we used to call a pletzel but they now call a bulke. They didn’t look or taste the same as I remember so I’m hoping that your recipe will bring back that taste memory. Thanks Joyce

    Reply
  48. vel

    third time I’ve seen a recipe for these things. Now I have to try them. Your commenting on bread in hot bacon grease brought back some great memories of eating hard rolls from the City Bakery in New Brunswick NJ in my great-aunt’s house and soaking them in that wonderful bacon fat. Now that’s a recipe I’d love, for those hard rolls!

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  49. Brenda

    How about ployes dripping with butter to eat with your baked beans?

    Man, I haven’t thought of ployes in years… best thing that ever happened to buckwheat, bar none! Thanks for the memories, Brenda – PJH

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  50. Jeri Hurd

    Made the bialy on Thursday. As suggested, I used KA bread flour, adding about 2 1/2 Tblsp of vital wheat gluten. I also added a Tblsp of poppy seeds to the onion mixture. Wonderful stuff! The dough came out wonderfully chewy.

    Thanks so much for the great feedback, Jeri – good to know the vital wheat gluten works well here. Enjoy! – PJH

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  51. Bridgid

    My dad introduced me to bialys, and I LOVE them! And while I am a NYer, I am very very excited to try these! (Not all NYers are schmucks!)
    Thanks for the fabulous story, and the recipe. I love this blog!

    Thanks, Bridgid – hey, I have NYC friends. Some tend to be opinionated, but then, I think that’s simply the competitive, go-go-go atmosphere there. Life is good… PJH

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  52. nbm

    PJ, I’m a middle-aged New York Jew who grew up eating bialys (with their sometimes frustratingly sparse sprinkle of onion), and I thought you were perfectly clear and fair about noting the muddled heritage of your bialy recipe. In fact, it charms me to think that you could learn to love this food of Eastern European Jews in a Greek coffeeshop in a New England town.

    But, to shed a little light on those who have perhaps over-reacted to your alteration of the recipe, it’s worth remembering that the bialy reflects the bare survival, in exile, of a vanished culture. If I recall correctly, Mimi Sheraton reports in The Bialy Eaters that when she finally made it to Bialystok there were no bialys. She found some older residents who remembered when there used to be Jewish bakers who made these great little rolls, but that was before the war, when there were something like fifty thousand Jews in the city. After three years of killings, forced labor, and deportations to Treblinka and other death camps, one thousand remained when the city was liberated from the Nazis in 1944. Now there are almost none. So there’s more than the usual weight of memory on these discs of dough.

    What a beautiful tribute to both bialys, and our ability to generously share our cultures via food. Thank you VERY much for this – PJH

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  53. Sue Greenberg

    PJ,
    A friend of mine sent me the bialy recipe and then I backtracked in my emails and found I had received it myself. Personally, I’m not a big bialy fan, but my husband grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY and loved/loves them. We now live in Rye, NH, 5 hours away from “authentic” bialys, but he has found bialys not too far away at the Beach Pea Baking Company in Kittery, ME. This bakery is owned and operated by Korean bakers, and they are, he says, the VERY BEST bialys he has ever eaten. We have had friends (she was the one who sent my your recipe!) from the NY area here on visits and they concur. So much for “authenticity” in baking. My husband loves lots of onions on his, so these should suit him perfectly. Obviously, it’s what you like and remember, not how “authentic” a recipe is that counts. Thanks for all your recipes!

    Sue, you’re the second person who’s commented here that their favorite bialys come from Korean bakers. HOORAY for the culinary melting pot! PJH

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  54. Julie DiRIco

    Wow! Yum! I made them today. We were having a steak dinner and I thought they would go great with it… but I knew also that my young daughters would not be fans of the caramelized onions, so I made half of the bialys with a sweet topping… i sauteed diced peaches in butter with a dash of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and 2-3 tsps of sugar. It was a yummy mix.

    The girls LOVED them! Especially Lily, my 4 year old. She devoured it, though not before I had finished off two of the onion ones. :)

    thanks so much! I’ll be making them again soon!

    I NEVER thought of a sweet filing, Julie – thanks so much for the inspiration! PJH

    Reply
  55. RisaG

    These look pretty close to the real thing. I was born and raised in Brooklyn and we had bagel stores in our area. They made bialys and we picked them up fresh every Saturday night when we went to pick up the Sunday papers. They didn’t have as large a circle in the center, much smaller and there were a few onions in there, not a lot.

    These look good enough to eat though. I have to try these. Thanks for tempting me.

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  56. Becky

    Np,they weren’t what I remembered from being a guest in NYC, yet I don’t care. They were excellent!! I got a nice chewy dough which I love, a simple recipe (I added vital wheeat gluten to my KAF bread flour) and I opted for hand kneading to give my shoulders and arms a ‘balance out the body’ after cycling.
    This one is a real keeper!!

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  57. David Moisan

    I can confirm that KA Allpurpose combined with 1 tbsp (yes, tbsp) gluten makes my bialys wonderfully chewy.

    Thanks, David – good to know. I was wondering how much gluten it would take to get that effect… PJH

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  58. elizabeth mooney

    Dear King Arthur, Now I am falling in hands of Sir Lancelot ! Thee flour arrived & today, I made your Bialys. the first batch I did exactly what you instructed. Bialys came out fine but not brown at all. So the 2nd batch I divided into 5 (like it smaller) but baked not weighing, for 15 minutes. Wow, they are crisp outside 7 chewy inside just like the bialy in NYC. my husband ate 3 out of first 4. they are great. i wish Mimi Sheraton will try to make them too. Thanks to Sir Lancelot. elizabeth of southwest

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  59. Bianca

    Made these this weekend. They are terrific and particularly good warm. The cold one this morning was not terribly satisfying. I’m going to try warming them up on the bun warmer of my toaster. Does anyone have a recipe for Apple Babka? My daughter has been asking since reading a story in a magazine.

    Bianca, we don’t have a recipe for apple babka, but our apple challah would be very similar – PJH

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  60. John

    Thanks so much for the flattening tip. To make the recipe a little more like what I was used to in NY/NJ I added a 1/4 teaspoon of non-diastatic malt powder (sold here at KAF) and instead of pan frying the onions I finely diced them and baked them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes stirring once or twice. Then I sprinkled Poppy seeds over the Bialy prior to baking. They came out awesome!! Thanks for the inspiration.

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  62. Morty

    Don’t mention a bialy in the same breath at Kossars Bakery on Grand St. in NYC. They make ‘white bread’ bialys. My family had been shopping there for probably 50 years. Then the owner either died or sold to ‘Kosher Bread’ people. I bought my usual dozen bialys and didn’t realize it was a new owner. Took them home, toasted one and threw it out with the rest of the bag. I went back to Kossars and got to speak with the owner. He said, “Yes, we changed the recipe…our customers don’t like the chewyness of the old style bialy so we make a ‘softer’ one. I said you killed a tradition and left. Never went back. Most old-timers feel the same…there’s no more true bialy left in NYC. And for that matter…it goes the same for bagels. The original ones were smaller and really shiny. Very hard on the outside and soft on the inside. They’re not around anymore. Although being a different specie, H & H bagels are quite good.

    Thanks for the insider info., Morty. I’ve been to H & H (I think on the upper West Side?) As you say, not the small, VERY hard bagels of years gone by, but tasty. And you’d better know what you want when you step up to that counter – no hemming and hawing around, right? :) PJH

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  63. "Marvin Berger"

    Bialys sound great . . . do you have any recommendations for making a whole grain bialy? Really don’t want a whole wheat version which can sometimes have a bitter taste.
    Try substituting 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup of your favorite whole grain flakes or flour. Start small and only change one thing at a time until you have a blend you are happy with. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  64. Cedarglen

    I know this is an OLD post, but it was new to me. I wanted to make bagels. realizedd I had waaay too many onions, so the bialy this was a natural. Made them last night. I had only KAF’s bread flour on hand, not the high gluten SL flour (not available here). As suggested above several times, I added about 1 TBS/cup vital wheat gluten. It sounds like a lot on top of bread flour, but the dough ‘felt’ like it should for a str ong, high gluten dough. Frankly, I don’t understant cutting a hole in the center of the rounds, but I follow direction at least the first time through a recipe. The final product was every bit that I expected – and better. If I changed anything, I’d use less olive oil when cooking the onions and cook them a bit slower. (Ya, big change, right?) This batch of bialys was outstanding and I’ll make them again. Now, back to some ‘real’ bagels!
    Sounds like this was a real success! The slit is made so the centers do not puff up and push the filling/topping right out of the bialys! It is like docking a quiche crust if you have ever done that. Elisabeth

    Reply

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