Revisiting Bialys and Loving Them (BBB July 2016)

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BBB July 2016 summary: recipe for Bialys, based on a recipes in “The Hot Bread Kitchen” and “Bien Cuit”; making substitutions; malfunctioning scales; a Bread Baking Babes project; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) July 2016: Bialys


Isn’t summer wonderful after a good thunderstorm?

About a month ago, Judy (Judy’s Gross Eats) decreed that we would make bialys this month. Which I applauded at the time. Because the weather was perfect. And it’s been too long since I made bialys.

Then, all last week, it was poisonously hot and humid. So much so that I almost (not quite, but almost) regretted our decision, of 5 or 6 years ago, to disable our air conditioner.

But bialys were calling to me….

When I was growing up in Milwaukee, one was either a bagel or a bialy person; I was the latter. During the week, I loved toasted and well-buttered bialys for breakfast. I still remember my precise bialy-eating ritual: I would eat the thicker bottom half first, taking care to circumvent the oniony central crater. Then I would eat the thinner, bubblier top half, which often had some onion flavor carried over from the center. finallly I got to the crater where, if I was lucky, a pool of melted butter would remain. This last bit was thoroughly delicious, and its memory carried me in the cold, dark bus ride to school.
– Maggie Glezer, Kossar’s Bialys, Artisan Baking Across America, p.172
There are some who divide the world between bagel lovers and bialy lovers […] This simple and amazing bread, spread with butter is a soul-satisfying as bread ever gets. […]
– Rose Levy Beranbaum, Onion Bialys, The Bread Bible, p.62
[T]he small, round bialy is characterized by an indented center well that is ringed by a softer, higher rim, all generously flecked with toasted onions and, at its most authentic, with a showering of poppy seeds. I cannot remember when I first ate one of these fragrant rolls, but surely it was addiction at first bite, starting with the mouthwatering scent of onions and yeast and the crisp bread’s affinity for sweet butter and fluffy cream cheese.
-Mimi Sheraton, The Bialy Eaters, p2

Heat and humidity or not, how could we say no to that?

Here’s how the bialy making went:

BBB Bialy diary:

7 June 2016 18:17 Excellent choice, Judy!! When I was reminded about bialys after reading “Bien Cuit” by Zachary Golper, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Is it possible that you read my mind when you chose this recipe for us?
Softer than a bagel, with a well in the center filled with carmelized onions, it is the bagel’s overlooked sibling. Legend has it that it was invented in the town of Bialystok in eastern Poland. That could be true, but bialy also means “pale” in Polish, and it is a pale roll when compared to a golden bagel. […] No one ever goes into a bakery and orders just bialys. Usually, it’s “Give me a half dozen bagels and a couple bialys.” […] Properly caramelized onions are critical to a proper bialy. […] Taste a bialy without onions and you will agree: It’s incomplete.
-Zachary Golper, Bialys, Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, p. 315 (ebook version)

Golper’s recipe (using a sourdough starter) calls for creme fraiche to go under the caramelized onions – it would be interesting to see if the final result differs very much from Beranbaum’s – whose recipe was based on one learned from a baker at Kossar’s bakery. (I still think it’s remarkable that Golper ignores Beranbaum and Glezer entirely when writing about bialys and bagels.)

I went back to Judy’s report to read it again.
For my first batch of bialys, I put two baking sheets in the same oven. The bialys on one sheet came out perfectly; however, the ones on the second sheet sort of exploded (or popped). They were all treated the same way beforehand, so it’s a mystery to me. For the second batch, baked in two separate ovens, they all exploded.
-Judy, message about bialy making to BBBabes

I’ve made bialys once before, using Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe in The Bread Bible and consulting Maggie Glezer’s recipe in Artisan Bread Across America.

The bialys didn’t explode; I had no idea they could explode. Oh oh.

And Natashya has made and blogged about making bialys from Maggie Glezer’s recipe. Judging from her photo, hers didn’t explode either.

But watch. Now that the possibility has been introduced, I just know mine are going to explode now….

10 July 2016 17:40 I just returned from the west coast where the weather was lovely – sunny, warm (but not too warm), with a light breeze from the ocean. It was paradise.

It’s horribly hot here right now and it’s hard to convince myself that making bialys is a good idea. Still, I love the look of recipe #2’s (Hot Bread Kitchen) holes….

Wow, salt in the preferment! How interesting!

But, sigh. I know I’m a freak. I’m sorry to see that the salt isn’t in grams as well.

I know I’ve done this before (please see Salt is salt, right? and Bialys recipe – note about Salt) but I googled again to make sure about the weight…. Traditional Oven ( claims that 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt is 6 grams. I DON’T think so. :stomp: :stomp:

I googled further to see the following:

I keep running into a roadblock with my recipes. Salting is the key element to seasoning food […] I’ve read that Diamond Crystal Kosher salt, with its large flakes, weighs half as much by volume as table salt, with its tiny grains. In other words, a half cup of table salt packs in as much salt as a whole cup of Diamond Crystal. (Morton’s Kosher supposedly weighs in between the two, at 3/4 cup). […]

Salt Type Weight of
1/4 cup (grams)
Weight of
1/4 cup (ounces)
Percent of
Diamond Crystal Kosher
Morton’s Table Salt 76.0 2.68 59%
Morton Pickling Salt 74.0 2.61 61%
La Baleine Coarse Sea Salt 66.8 2.36 68%
La Baleine Fine Sea Salt 64.8 2.29 70%
Morton’s Kosher Salt 62.0 2.19 73%
Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt 45.2 1.59 100%
Maldon Sea Salt 33.2 1.17 136%

-Mike Vrobel, Salt by Weight, Dad Cooks Dinner

Diamond Crystal Kosher salt is the kind we use. So let’s see… that means that 1 Tbsp weighs 11.3gm and 1 tsp weighs 3.77gm.

I don’t see anywhere on the Hot Bread Kitchen website a specification for what kind of kosher salt they use. I wonder if it’s Morton’ or Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt….

And weirdo that I am, I’d like to see the yeast listed in grams too. So here’s my best guess at the gram equivalents.

Bialys #2 adapted from The Hot Bread Kitchen: Artisanal Baking from Around the World:
Pâte Fermentée
    120 g lukewarm water
    2/3 teaspoon active dry yeast (1.87gm – so, 2gm?)
    180 g bread flour
    1 teaspoon Kosher salt (3.77gm – so, 4gm??)
    320 g lukewarm water
    464 g bread flour
    150 g pâte fermentée (risen and deflated and cut into walnut-sized pieces)
    3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (2.13gm – so, 2gm??)
    1 tablespoon Kosher salt (11.3gm – so, 11gm??)

Hey!! why not make the amount of pâte fermentée that’s required? What am I supposed to do with the extra?

14 July 2016, 07:11 I know I keep harping on the salt. But really, it’s driving me crazy that the Hot Bread Kitchen doesn’t specify the weight for the salt (or the yeast).

So I just worked out the baker’s percentage. I’m guessing that Hot Bread Kitchen must be using Diamond Crystal kosher salt – the percentage works out to 2.09%. If it was Morton’s Kosher salt, it would be 4% salt – that’s way too high!!

I’m in the middle of reading Harold McGee’s book, Keys to Good Cooking and he’s with me on this:
Measuring salt correctly is one of the biggest challenges in cooking from recipes. Many recipes specify volumes of salt but not the kind of salt, and so don’t really tell the cook exactly how much salt to use. It’s always best to specify salt quantities by weight, not volume. […] A good amount of salt is a weight equivalent to 2 percent of the weight of the flour: or, in volume measures, 1/2 teaspoon of granulated salt for every cup of flour.
– Harold McGee, Basic Kitchen Resources: Water, the Pantry, and the Refrigerator, p.73, Breads, p. 376, Keys to Good Cooking

Correction!!! I just recalculated the Hot Bread Kitchen recipe. The percentage is 2.3% salt if it’s Diamond Crystal and 3.8% if it’s Morton’s….

Hmmm… maybe use a little less salt?

And I’ll make half the preferment. (It’s crazy to have 150gm of preferment floating around!) I’ll use a scant 1/2 tsp (1.8gm) kosher salt and in the dough itself 9gm instead of 11gm.

08:32 Isn’t the internet handy? Thanks to Karen K’s note and Google books “look inside!”, I was able to track down the answer about what kind of Kosher salt Hot Bread Kitchen calls for:
HBK recommends Diamond Crystal salt.
– Karen K, message to BBBs
We never use cup measurements in the bakery-everything is measured by weight to guarantee accuracy.
Salt is always kosher salt and I use Diamond Crystal brand. If you use another brand of kosher salt, such as Morton’s, the same volume or weight measure of salt will be twice as salty, so use half as much.
You can’t talk about bialys without talking about my friend Mimi Sheraton, the former New York Times restaurant critic. Her book The Bialy Eaters is the most captivating piece of food writing I’ve ever read. Within the parameters she outlines, I set off to make the best bialy in New York. […]
1½ cups/320 g LUKEWARM WATER
3½ cups plus 2 tablespoons/465 g BREAD FLOUR, plus more for shaping
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/150 g (risen and deflated) PÂTE FERMENTÉE (
page 126), cut into walnut-size pieces
1 tablespoon KOSHER SALT […]
– Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez, “Notes on Equipment and Ingredients”, “Traditional Onion Bialys”, The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World, p. 20, 22, 159

Okay, Rogriguez is confused, isn’t she? Sure, the volume will be different depending on how coarsely ground salt is. But weight is weight. A kilo of kosher salt (Morton’s or Diamond Crystal) weighs the same as a kilo of feathers.

And. She weighs everything, eh? So, why are the yeast and salt amounts by volume? :stomp: :stomp:

15 July 2016 06:09 I know that after being so cold all spring, I promised not to complain about it being too warm, but this humid heat is getting to me. In spite of the violent rain in the early morning yesterday, it was still poisonously hot all day. And a second wild rain in the early evening – with the sun still shining(!) – didn’t bring all that much relief. I just didn’t have the heart to make the starter last night.

It still feels plenty warm and sticky this morning. So. No bialys dough today. The weather office promised that a cool front is coming in today. If they’re not lying again, I’ll make the starter later today.

I fear my bialys post will be late…

I’ll do a little more reading, shall I?
    One cold winter midnight, trudging home from the library, […] 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. […]
    I tentatively asked the counterman for “one of those onion things.”
    “Bialy,” he said.
    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. […]
[Shape] into 4″ to 5″ circles, each with a small rim.
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.[…]
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.
– PJ Hamel, Bialys? They’re Greek to me, Flourish | King Arthur Flour
[T]here was one bread in particular that captured my dad’s attention, and it was not a bread I grew up eating. Passing through a market in Pennington, NJ, he saw a squat, round bread that looked a little bit like a bagel. It was a bialy, a Polish roll with a center dimple filled with chopped onion and poppy seeds. […] He pulled batch after batch of bialys from the oven as he tweaked and adjusted his recipe.
– Emily Teel, Baking Bialys, Pursuing Perfection, Flourish | King Arthur Flour
Chewy, with just the right amount of onion filling […] Place a scant teaspoon of the onion filling in the indentation [of the shaped bialy] and spread it out with your fingers. Don’t overfill; a little goes a long way […] Resist the temptation to be generous with the onions: the moisture in them can keep the center of the bialy from cooking at the same speed as the edges, causing the center to puff up like a topknot.
-Rod Teel’s Classic Bialys Recipe (2016), King Arthur Flour
[C]lassic NYC bialys have a mere trace of chopped onion and poppy seed at their centers
-Classic Bialys Recipe (2010), King Arthur Flour

16 July 2016, 06:55 Oh oh. Today’s the day that I’m supposed to be posting about bialys, isn’t it? Does it count that I’m making them today?

Yesterday evening around 19:00, I made the starter, shaking my head at the idea of someone publishing a recipe that suggests making twice too much starter.

I was also shaking my head because I had forgotten to search through the maze of the freezer for the vital wheat gluten that I know is lurking there somewhere. So. No bread flour in the starter. I used 40gm 100% whole wheat and 50gm unbleached all-purpose. I’ll put extra vital wheat gluten into the actual dough.

13:36 I have pushed the dough down and just finishing caramelizing the onions. The dough looks great.

Thank goodness!

Things didn’t go completely swimmingly this morning around 08:00…. After all my ranting about people not showing weight measurements for salt and yeast, what happens?? Our digital scale suddenly stopped working and displayed the “change battery” icon. :stomp:

We do have a nice little spring scale that I got out to use. But it’s not the most accurate. So I really have no idea exactly how much flour and water I added.

And because {shriek} there was hardly any vital wheat gluten left AND the flax seed container, that was in the same little box in the freezer, split open and spilled everywhere, I decided to add some ground flax seed. And some atta because it’s higher gluten (I think) than our all-purpose flour. To make up for not quite enough vital wheat gluten.

I resorted to using measuring spoons for the yeast. I was GOING to weigh the salt. But, wouldn’t you know it? The little spring scale broke. So I used spoons for that too.

15:44 Time to shape dough. After a discussion about whether we like bialys or not, one of us has decided that I should use half the dough to make baguette(s) and half to make bialys.

Okay. That works for me….
[S]pread 8 grams (2 tsp) of the crème fraîche in the center of each bialy. Top each with 12 grams (1 tbsp) of the [caramelized] onions.
-Zachary Golper, Bialys, Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, p.230
    Sour cream has a fat content of about 20% and may include ingredients like gelatin, rennin, and vegetable enzymes to stabilize it and make it thicker.
    Crème fraîche has a fat content of about 30% and does not contain any added thickeners. Crème fraîche is thicker, has a richer flavor, and is less tangy than sour cream.
-Christine Gallary, What’s the Difference Between Sour Cream and Crème Fraîche? | The Kitchn

18:02 Shaping was a breeze. The dough is beautiful! But after reading the instruction to make 12 pieces and “flatten each one into an approximately 4″ disk”, I made yet another executive decision. I cut the dough in half and made 8 spheres and 2 baguettes.

19:14 The bialys have definitely risen. Indenting them was easy. After cutting small X’s into the centers, I smeared on a little 30% sour cream (can you believe we can get 30% sour cream?!) and not too much caramelized onions into each indentation and baked them.

Again, I made another executive decision. I did NOT turn our ancient oven to 500F as the Hot Bread Kitchen recipe suggests. I did not turn our oven to 475F as Zachary Golper’s Bien Cuit recipe suggests. I did not want to blow a fuse.

Instead, I preheated the oven – with the stone in – to 425F. When I put the bialys and baguettes into the oven, I turned it down to 400F. Baking took a little longer than 12-15 minutes.

19:51 Baking took about 40 minutes. (I thought the bialys were done after 30 minutes but the resident expert was quite disapproving and thought they were too blonde. Because the baguettes needed more cooking, I decided not to argue and baked all but 3 bialys for 10 more minutes). Besides, Golper’s instruction is to bake them until they are “a rich golden brown”.

20:09 They didn’t explode! They didn’t explode!

They are on their rack now cooling as we are serving dinner. They smell fantastic! And they’re wonderfully light. The baguettes look lovely too (although apparently, some feel that they are not dark enough in colour…).

It’s so tempting to take one to have with dinner. But I’ll wait.

They’re still baking inside.

bialy This morning, we warmed two bialys up, made coffee and headed out to sit on the porch. What a stunningly beautiful day! THIS is what summer is supposed to be like.

And what stunningly delicious breakfast!

Thank you, Judy!

Here are the two BBB July 2016 Bialys recipes we were given. And here is what I did to the second one:

BBB Bialys
based on a recipes in “The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook” and “Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread”

makes 8 bialys and 2 baguettes


  • 90gm flour ¹
       » 40gm 100% whole wheat flour
       » 50gm unbleached all-purpose wheat flour
  • 1gm (0.25 tsp) active dry yeast ²
  • 60gm water at 96F ³
  • 2gm (0.5 tsp Diamond Crystal) Kosher salt 4
  • dough

    • 464gm flour
         » 11gm vital wheat gluten (aka high gluten flour)
         » 100gm atta (finely milled strong whole wheat flour)
         » 350gm unbleached all-purpose wheat flour
         » 3gm flax seed, finely ground 5
    • 3gm (0.75 tsp) active dry yeast
    • 320gm water at 96F ³
    • 9gm (1 scant Tbsp Diamond Crystal) Kosher salt 4

    filling for 8 bialys

    • 1 medium large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
    • splash olive oil
    • dash Kosher salt
    • high fat sour cream
    1. pre ferment: The day before you plan to bake the bialys, whisk together flours and salt for the pre-ferment in a medium sized mixing bowl. In a small container, whisk yeast into the body temperature water until it has dissolved. Add the yeasted water to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, or hand knead until all the flour is absorbed. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave it on the counter (“room temperature”) for about 30 minutes. Then put the covered bowl into the fridge overnight. (The BBB recipe says this should be refrigerated for 8-24 hours.)
    2. dough: Early the next morning, take the pre-ferment out of the fridge and put it into the oven with only the light turned on to bring the somewhat bubbly sludge up to room temperature. Go away and have coffee or something.
    3. After an hour or so, in a large bowl, stir together flours and ground flaxseed. Put salt on top of the flour mixture and set aside. Then, in a small container, whisk yeast into the water until the yeast has dissolved.
    4. Pour the yeasted water into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until the flours are mixed in. The dough will be on the stiff side. This is to be expected.
    5. kneading in the bowl: Use your hands to turn and fold the dough in the bowl until the dough feels quite smooth. Turn it a few more times just because it feels so nice. Put a plate over the bowl and leave it to sit in the oven with only the light on to rise until it doubles.
    6. make the filling: Put a stainless steel frying pan over medium low heat. Add a splash of olive oil followed by onions. Cook, stirring almost constantly with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle in a little salt. Stir some more until the onions are starting to be tinged with gold. Remove from heat and put into a small bowl. Set aside on the counter.
    7. shaping: When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured board. Cut it in half. Cut one half evenly into eight pieces. Form each piece into a round. Place them well apart on a parchment covered baking sheet and cover with a tea towel. Allow the spheres to rest for 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, cut the other half piece of dough evenly into two and form two baguettes. Place them seam side down in a parchment lined baguette form. (Obviously, you could choose to make sixteen bialys… next time, I might do just that; they are delicious.) After the spheres have rested, flour your palms and press each sphere down to form a disc. Cover all the bread with teatowels, followed by plastic grocery bags and place them in the oven with only the light turned on to rise.
    8. filling and baking: Remove the rising bread and bialys from the oven and put them on the counter. (I know. It’s so obvious but you don’t want to have to experience the alternative. Don’t ask. Even though it happened years ago, it’s still too painful.) With a baking stone on the center rack, preheat the oven to 425F. (The BBB recipe suggest preheating to 500F). Using a well-floured thumb, press an indentation into the center of each disc to make them look like saucers with deep wide rims. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut X’s into the centers (not all the way through). Using the back of a small spoon, smear sour cream over the indentations. Add caramelized onions evenly on top of the sour cream.
    9. scoring: Just before putting them into the oven, score the baguettes. Make sure to move swiftly and decisively. Liberally spray the baguettes and bialys with water. Transfer everything onto the hot stone. Turn the oven down to 400F and bake for about 30 minutes until they are golden coloured and sound hollow when rapped on the bottom. (The BBB recipe suggests baking for 12-15 minutes at 500F.)
    10. cooling: Allow the baguettes and bialys to cool completely before serving. They’re still baking inside! “Bien Cuit”‘s authors say “Let the bread cool completely before slicing and eating, at least 4 hours but preferably 8 to 24 hours“. N.B. Of course you may want to serve warm bread and bialys. Reheat them after they have cooled completely.

      To reheat any UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.

    11. Notes:

      1.) flour The BBB calls for bread flour. We never have bread flour on hand because it seems impossible to find any unbleached bread flour. What I do instead is follow Susan’s (Wild Yeast) formula.
      I found that replacing the high-gluten flour in my usual sourdough bagel recipe with a mixture of 97% flour (the regular flour I use for bread) and 3% vital wheat gluten gave me a bagel that was virtually indistinguishable from the original.
      -Susan, Wild Yeast

      But. I was too lazy to go rooting through the freezer to find vital wheat gluten for the pre ferment and promised myself I’d add extra in the dough itself.

      Good thing too. Because we didn’t have quite enough vital wheat gluten left. So instead of some of the all-purpose flour in the dough itself, I substituted with atta – which is strong finely milled whole wheat flour for Indian breads.

      2.) Yeast The BBB recipe calls for “2/3 teaspoon active dry yeast” for the pre ferment. That works out to 1.87gm, or rounded up to 2gm. But. Inexplicably, the BBB recipe calls for making twice the amount needed of the preferment. So I cut all the ingredients for it in half.

      3.) Water As always, I’ll repeat the caution about the water – the one that nobody even bothers to read anymore: please do not use water from the hot water tap. Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave. If you are allergic to using a thermometer, you can check the temperature by putting a few drops of water onto your wrist: if it feels warm, it’s too warm; if it feels cold, it’s too cold; if it feels like a cross between cool, warm and nothing, then it’s fine. Please note that before the yeast is added, the liquid temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

      4.) Salt The BBB recipe calls “1 teaspoon Kosher salt” in the preferment and “1 tablespoon Kosher salt” in the actual dough recipe, without specifying what brand of Kosher salt. After wandering around in circles for some time, it turned out that the recipe writers meant Diamond Crystal rather than Morton’s. A teaspoon of Diamond Crystal salt works out to weighing just under 4gm. After calculating the baker’s percentage, I slightly lowered the amount of salt in the dough. But really, what a lot of grief could have been saved if the writers had specified the weight! I always weigh salt for bread making…. (For more information about measuring salt, please see Salt is salt, right?.)

      5.) Flaxseed The BBB recipe calls for zero flaxseed. But I just couldn’t help myself. I substituted some of the unbleached all-purpose with ground flax seeds.

    BBB Bialys (July 2016) and Baguettes

    Bread Baking Babes Revisiting Bialys and Loving Them (BBB July 2016)

    Judy is our host for July 2016’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

    This month, my friends, you will be baking bialys, a bagel-cousin from Bialystok, Poland. This is only a one-step process – baking only – and instead of a hole, the bialy has a depression that can be filled with onions, cheese, or whatever you choose.

    We know you’ll want to make bialys too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make bialys in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 July 2016. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

    Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

    For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

    Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ July 2016 bread.

    As Katie has so fittingly said in the past:

    As always, we have some very busy Babes at the moment….. But just so you know: We’re all still BABES! (You can tell by the panties….)



    On a gray and rainy day in November, 1992, I stood on Rynek Kosciuszko, the deserted town square of Bialystok, Poland, and was suddenly overcome by the same shadowy sense of loss that I had felt in the old Jewish quarters of Kazimierz in Cracow and Mikulov in Moravia. To anyone who knows their tragic history, these empty streets appear ominously haunting, especially in the somber twilight of a
    wet, gray afternoon. The damp air seems charged with echoes of silent voices and ghostly wings and the minor-key melodies of fiddlers on rooftops. […] [W]hat had started as a whimsical search would lead me along a more serious path that I was unable to forsake for seven years. Even now I am not sure my quest is over, nor that I want it to be.
    The story began with my passion for the squashy, crusty, onion-topped bread roll known as a bialy and eaten as an alternative to the bagel. Widely popular in New York City and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the United States, the small, round bialy is characterized by an indented center well that is ringed by a softer, higher rim, all generously flecked with toasted onions and, at its most authentic, with a showering of poppy seeds. I cannot remember when I first ate one of these fragrant rolls, but surely it was addiction at first bite, starting with the mouthwatering scent of onions and yeast and the crisp bread’s affinity for sweet butter and fluffy cream cheese.
    -Mimi Sheraton, The Bialy Eaters, p2



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    11 responses to “Revisiting Bialys and Loving Them (BBB July 2016)

    1. Judy

      That is most definitely a dissertation-worthy post! I will never look at salt the same way again. Glad they worked out for you (and didn’t explode). Lovely bialys!

    2. tanna jones

      Yes, that is what summer is supposed to be! Love your Bialys and the oozing butter! Mine took longer to bake, my oven only goes to 450.
      Too funny that all your scales went off. See you don’t need to be that accurate ;-) you think.

      1. Elizabeth

        Of course, I’ve always known that the measurements don’t have to be completely exact. But I can’t help thinking about a.) my sister’s home ec teacher who declared “there will be no guesswork in our kitchen” and b.) the fact that I love measuring things.

        Yes, the oozing butter was awfully good.

    3. Lien

      I had to laugh, first your salt-insanity and then the scales broke down. too funny. you can make me laugh and scare me at the same time :D
      I used just 2 tsp, because I know from experience that 3 tsp (or 2 TBsp) is too much for us. I use the same kind of salt (fine) and 1 leveled tsp is enough for 500 g flour for us. This makes it so much easier, you should try that one time. Even though I suspect that you just like getting crazy over it…right!?
      Your bialys look perfect and I applaud your restrian not eating them warm.. we did (sshhhtt!).

      1. Elizabeth

        Oh sure. Laugh at the misfortunes of others…. :lalala: :-D

        We ate our bialys warm too, Lien. We reheated them…. (If there hadn’t been way too much dinner being served when the bialys came out of the oven, we probably would have eaten them immediately too.)

    4. Elle Lachman

      Love the color you got on your bialys. The onion filling looks great, too. Could you taste the sour cream of was it just a background flavor?

    5. Barbara M

      Did everyone have bialys for breakfast or did some percentage of the breakfasteers have baguettes? If everyone had bialys was there general agreement about the deliciousness?

      I don’t know if I could manage to have a baguette if there was a bialy available. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bialy but they sound and look so good … that quote about eating the bottom and then the top and then the onion part made me drool a bit …

      Aside: Tsk, the spell-checker doesn’t think “bialy” is a word. Or “breakfasteers” or “Tsk”.

      1. Elizabeth

        How on earth could “breakfasteers” be rejected?! (and the suggestion to replace it with “breakwaters” is ludicrous!)

        To answer your question, both baguettes are in the freezer and 100% ate bialys. And yes, I would say there was general agreement about the deliciousness with maybe me thinking they were a tiny bit more delicious. Maybe.

        We finished the last one this morning and I’m going into a decline….

    6. Kelly

      Oh boy! Now I am curious about your not-quite-regretted AC disabling. And I need to go look at Bien Cuit again, the idea of creme fraiche under the onions sounds delicious. And I just love your close up shot with the melty butter! I so love reading your posts!


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