Bialys
Bialy II

The transition to Fall is always one of the hardest. Despite my most noble attempts to keep the cheery sunny days in my mind, my mood tends to shift with the weather. Drifiting from dreams of the seaside and salt in my hair, to bowls of warming soup, and wearing jeans and a fuzzy sweater as the leaves whirlwind around my feet. The transition to fall is always the hardest but also one of the ones that I look the most forward to. No longer do I have to endure the searing pain of the sun's rays on the beach but can find solace in the cooling breeze that promises snow. I hate to see summer go, but with it a part of me cant wait to see what fall will bring. 

In order to celebrate the completion of yet another wonderful summer, I went to my friend, Kristin's, house on the Chesapeake Bay with a slew of other friends from college. We all migrated in from our various cities (DC, NYC, and Philly) to spend a little time together forgetting the fact that we were no longer 22 and drinking from 9-5 is not really acceptable in this place called "the real world". 

The weekend started off with a long drive down a winding highway with the top down in the convertible. I turned on Serious Eats podcast to pass the time away and was wholey intrigued by one of their latest episodes about Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK), which inspired my recipe for this post. Have you heard about HBK? It is an amazing concept and I cant believe that this was the first time that I had ever heard about it. Virtually, they are a bread kitchen in NYC which teaches immigrant women how to cook bread according to original recipes. One of the most intriguing parts of the podcast although was about their bialys. To be honest, I have never ever heard of these little things and was quite concerned when I heard that they once had a chance of overshadowing the elusive NYC bagel. I am not the worlds most well versed bagel eater, but the fact that I had never even heard of a bialy was upsetting. I mean, I consider myself a foodie here people. How can I not have heard of this yet??

I spent the weekend, in between eating, drinking and jetskiing, looking up bialy recipes and the history of it. I wanted to know just how to make the best one, and why, if they were so similar to bagels did the bialys get washed up?  My research was uneventful and I mainly just discovered that people stopped making them according to the original recipe and had skipped steps to make things faster and evermore convienient. whats new?  So people just focused on bagel making. I did although find one gem in my research; the hot bread kitchen recipe for Bialy's. You can find it too on the National Geographic website. 

Bialy I

I decided that I had to try my hand at it, so on Tuesday morning after the long weekend, I activated my starter to get the pate fermentee going.  I love a sour chewy, texture so instead of using dry active yeast, I used my sourdough starter. I used the usual 200g flour and 200g warm water and came back after work to find the thing almost busting the lid off the container.  I then mixed together just the flour and water and let it sit for 20 minutes to autoclyse as the recipe calls for. I then added my version of the pate fermentee, a tablespoon or so of honey, and the salt. Using the dough hook, I let it knead at a medium high speed for about 6 minutes- until it roughly passed the windowplane test. To be honest, I really have no idea if it actually passed the windowplane test but my friend had arrived who I was supposed to go to dinner with so I didn't have time to think about it too much. I separated the dough into three equal parts, put 'em in ziplock bags and threw them into the fridge half while paying attention to the recipe, half focusing my friends latest excusions. 

Bialy Dough (adapted from Hot Bread Kitchen cookbook)

  • 320 g lukewarm water
  • 465 g bread flour
  • 150 g pate fermentee
  • 3/4 tsp active, dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp salt

Pate Fermentee

  • 1 tbsp mature starter
  • 200 g flour
  • 200 g water 

Method

  1. 8-12 hours before you want to make the dough, mix the pate fermentee (1 tbsp mature starter, 200 g flour, 200 g water) and allow to rest on the counter until you are ready. 
  2. When ready to make the dough, mix together the flour and 305 g water and allow to rest for 20 minutes to autoclyse. Dissolve 1 tbsp salt and 1 tbsp honey in the remaining 15 g of water and add to the dough, along with the 3/4 tsp dry yeast and 150g of pate fermente.
  3. Mix on low speed until all ingredients are completely combined and then increase speed to medium to medium high until the dough makes a slapping noise on the side of the container and is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (about 5 - 7 minutes). Do the windowpane test and make sure your dough can stretch quite thin without breaking. 
  4. Place in a ziplock back on the counter top for an hour and a half (prepare the filling during this time), or place in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 
  5. When you are ready to make the bialys, remove from the refrigerator 1.5 hours before you want to bake the dough and allow to come to room temperature. (Prepare the filling during this time).
  6. Divide the dough into equal pieces (about 80 g ea) and form into a circle and place unto corn meal dusted parchment paper. Flatten each dough circle with the heel of your hand into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour. During this time, place the pizza stone in the oven and crank it up to 500 degrees. 
  7. When the dough is soft and holds an indentation when you touch it lightly, make a well in the middle and add the onion filling. Slip the parchment paper with the bialys on it into the oven, and cook until golden brown.