Monday, January 01, 2007

that ain't no bagel!

i decided to start 2007 by posting about something that would be significant to the first day of a new year.

they say you should start your year off with something sweet. so, first thing in the morning, i stuffed my face with belgian chocolate and then continued my breakfast with a good sugary dose of the coconut lime "fudge" i made earlier this week. i figured a good sugar rush along with my mornign espresso should shock my system into movement if not put me into shock. looking out the window, i decided to bake something as it was rainy and cold out and everything was closed today. the question was, what to make?

it popped into my head that it is also said that we should start the year by eating something round to signify life, to remind us that everything has a beginning and an end. besides what i am posting today in relation to a new beginning of the year, i also had the ironic news of the unexpected end of someone's life [someone i know of, no relation or friend]. bittersweet, i tell you. you don't expect things like that on january 1st, do you? it reminds one to live each day to the fullest when news like that is heard.

* * * * *

today's post will be about the cousin to the bagel — the bialy. i remember the first time i had one of these in the united states. i couldn't figure it out and really didn't know about it as it's not something we commonly see here — i was intrigued by its chewy texture and its wonderful onion filling which came on the outside in spite of the meaning of the word "filling".

making these does require a few things. it takes time (mostly rising time, 4 1/2 hrs), patience, a strong food processor or mixer, high gluten flour and a very hot oven. of course, the last two can be gotten around by way of using vital wheat gluten with AP flour and a flat baking stone or tiles.


first made in bialystock, these delicious mini breads transferred to north america with waves of jewish immigrants many years ago. they are quite unique in that they were originally more of a regional specialty; today they are found in several cities. nothing beats them as their "just enough" onion-y shmeared coating and chewy texture make you want to eat another, just as you finish the last bite of the first one. they are the basis for childhood memories of many a person in cities such as new york.

makes 6 bialys (double for one dozen)


300 g high gluten flour or,
300 g AP + 6 g vital wheat gluten
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp rapid rise yeast
200 ml water

1/2 small onion
vegetable oil


making the onion paste is the first step —

take your onion and cut it in chunks.

process it until it is finely ground. you may need 2 tbsp or so of water but not too much. use your spatula to keep pushing the mixture down. you want a fine grind.

in a non stick frypan, add some oil and over medium low heat, fry the onion paste only until it is lightly golden. you may add 1/2 tsp sugar halfway through.

set this aside in a small dish but don't wash out the food processor. you will make the dough in it and this will lend flavour to the dough.

in a bowl of your food processor or mixer, place the high gluten flour or AP & vital wheat gluten mix, the salt and yeast.

blend the flour, salt and yeast together to mix well. measure out your water.

start adding the water with the machine running and let it go until it forms a ball. once it has formed this ball, let the machine run for 2 minutes. be careful as this is a strong flour and will make your machine work for every cent its worth.

remove the dough and knead this breifly for 30 seconds and let it cool down. repeat the process. you want to develop the gluten structure to its fullest. once again, repeat.

by the end of the third time, you will end up with a totally amazing texture. if it's true what they say in breadmaking instructions, then this must be what a baby's butt feels like! i prefer the earlobe analogy, thank you very much. i make a lot of bread and pastries and i can tell you that this is one of the softest bread doughs you will ever work with.

due to the higher gluten content, you will notice it is extremely sticky but forms a nice ball. in spite of this stickiness, you won't really need extra flour. place the ball of dough in a bowl and set it aside in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours or until completely doubled. i put mine in the oven with the pilot light on.

after 2 hours, the dough will have swelled up. deflate the dough and place it on a work surface.

separate the dough into 6 balls of 80 to 82 grams each. place them on a lightly floured surface with a lot of space between them. remember they are sticky and with the humidity of being covered they will seem stickier. let these rise for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

45 minutes before you bake, heat your oven to 475 F and place the baking tile in the oven. let this get as hot as it can.

take one of the balls on a floured surface [do not deflate it] and with your fingers push it out from the center towards the edge. think of an inner tube shape however you want the dough in the center to remain intact. it should stretch very thinly to make a membrane about 1/16 of an inch thick. be careful not to rip it. if you do, start over with a new ball and put that one back to rest again. try to extend it as far as you can (about 5 inches).

separate the onion mixture into 6 portions. in a little bowl, put one portion of onion and 1/2 tsp of oil. add only a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar and mix it.

add this to the center of the bialy and with fingers or the back of a spoon, gently spreadly it evenly and thinly all over.

place the bialys on the baking tile and cook for 7 to 8 minutes only. remove and let cool.

eating these while still warm is the best!



Anonymous said...

oh yum!!!! Bookmarking bookmarking bookmarking :D

i remmeber making something this size once a few years ago but i think it had kosher salt on the outside too? hmm the salt taste was too strong for me and i didnt make it again...

i love onions, i'm gonna try this!

Lisa said...

Oh my goodness -- those look so scrumptious! I don't usually make bready things but this has me tempted to try. I love bialys.

Love the step-sy-step photos, too. They're great.

Chanita Harel חני הראל said...

So soft... I love onion and your bialies ! please send me one ..
מכירה ואוהבת, צילום והכנה מושלמים

ML said...

I really like how you started off your new year!

Anonymous said...

Forget the no-knead bread. You don't need it ;)

These look amazing. I need to work on my bread baking skills.

Jihan said...

I dont know how come your not boasting about how many times you have been proposed to. Your so dreamy... What a beautiful way to start the New Years. As usual I am lucky to have some bring me over some nice food. I will have to wait until I go to the US to try these lol..

Beenzzz said...

Wow! Those look so yummy! I'm hungry now....

TopChamp said...

Do you have different types of flour in terms of gluten? We have plain flour, self-raising flour, 00 grade flour... I believe you can also buy gluten free in health food shops...

So I'm confused - what options do you have?!

burekaboy — said...

sarina - hope you try them. they are fun to make and fairly easy. too much salt is not a good thing.

lisa - i don't make these too often. don't know why because i really like them. i like step by step photos, too ... as you can see! i guess i find it easier to follow directions and i like to see how things will look.

chanit - יש את זה בארץ -האם כן, איך קוראים להם? אף פעם לא ראיתי אותם

ml - i really shouldn't have cause i think i went into sugar overdose!

pam - LOL! thanks :) i am still doing it though!! who "kneads" to sweat when i can just mix and bake, right?

pj - HA HA, you make me laugh. thanks for the compliments you shower upon me. i look forward to your visits!! :)

beenzzz - thanks! too bad you're so far away ....

topchamp - your questions will be answered today cause i just finished a post all about it. that was serendipitous! anyway, you can make these with regular bread flour -- they will be a bit less chewy but that is splitting hairs. the recipe will still work without the high gluten type flour. vital wheat gluten is pure gluten which is added to regular all purpose to make it stronger. so...see the post i did to have some of your questions answered. if you have more, ask away!

Anonymous said...

whee gonna make these later today :) gonna use my ghettofab white flour tho :P i'll knead it with my knees :D :D :D

will let you know how it turns out :D

burekaboy — said...

sarina - cool! i am looking forward to hearing about/seeing your results!! :) if you can, use bread flour (but i'm sure you can get similar results using ghettofab AP ;P). what kind of yeast are you using? if it's regular yeast, increase it a bit. i used the rapid rise one for this recipe. as for kneading with your knees LOL - make sure the merengue & calypso is going while you're doing it!! hehehehe.

Anonymous said...

bread flour?
these things you mention sound familiar and yet strange :D

d00d i'z cook to rock :D

we only have one kind of yeast here :D

Anonymous said...

egadz. just realized you are talking in metrikz ... *shudder* ... wish me the best!!!!

burekaboy — said...

hey sarina - hope you were able to figure it out ok. e-me if u still need measurements/help with it. i forgot to add the measurements in cups because i weigh the ingredients in grams when i make breads. i should actually add them to the post.

Anonymous said...

i made up my own thing lol ... i'll let you know how it turnz out hahaha oh my! :D should i be scared :D ? i decided i would focus on the earlobe vibe lol :D

aka Rachel said...

guess who has high gluten flour arriving from israel soon? i can't wait to try these 'hole-less bagels' out ;)

burekaboy — said...

hey rai - that's exciting! do let me know when you try making them. sarina from (comments above) tried them and they came out beautifully.

Anonymous said...

I have the Bread Bible by Rose Levy, of which I love, but this is one recipe I haven't tried yet. They look delicious! Maybe I will try it soon, :-)

burekaboy — said...

jamila - LOL, trust me, they'll be gone before you can blink!
sooo good.

only thing is, make sure you use high gluten flour (king arthur has it) or add pure gluten from health food store to reg ap or bread flour. it won't make the nice holes without it.

give 'em a try one day, you'll be glad you did.

and yes, RLB's book is great. check out her website, too (in my links).

Anonymous said...

I read from her website the time. :-)

Anonymous said...

Have you read "The Bialy Eaters" by Mimi Sheraton? It's a short book in which she tries to trace the original bialy. It turns out there are no more bialys in Bialystok, because they killed all the Jews who baked them. She finds a survivor still making them in Gedera, if I remember correctly. And there's always Grand St. in NY.