Jun 3, 2013

We Knead to Bake #5: Bialys (Chewy Rolls topped with Carmelized Onion-Bell pepper filling)

This month’s bread for the ‘We Knead to Bake’ group were Bialys (and by this month I mean May :-) )  I know I’m late in posting this, lots of personal excuses, so I won’t bore you with that. But I’m glad I did make these.  
Bialy is pronounced as Bee-ah-lee and looks quite similar to a Bagel, but its not, as the cooking/baking style differs. Bagels are first boiled and then baked whereas Baily’s are just baked. 

Here’s a bit of insight about this bread, copied verbatim from Aparna’s blog.
“The name Bialy comes from Bialystocker Kuchen which translates as “bread from Bialystok” which is in Poland. Apparently, Bialys are rarely seen or made in Bialystock these days (I wouldn’t know if this was a fact and I’m going by hearsay). In the days when there used to be Bialys in Bialystock, it seems the rich Jews ate Bialys with their meals, while the Bialys were the whole meal for the poorer Jews.
In the early 1900s, many Eastern Europeans, including the Polish, immigrated to the US and settled down in New York. Naturally, they also brought their Bialy making skills with them and that is how the New York Bialy became famous.

A Bialy is round with a depressed middle, not a hole, and typically filled with cooked onions and sometimes poppy seeds. So it is not shiny on the outside with largish puffy bubbles on the inside. A good BIlay should have a springy soft crumb and a chewy and floury crust. A lot of people slather Bialys with butter or cream cheese but the best way (in my opinion) is to eat them as they are. Bialys are best when eaten within 5 to 6 hours of making them.

What lends Bialys their signature chewiness is the use of flour that is high in gluten. So to make Bialys, use bread flour if you can find it. Otherwise use all-purpose flour and add 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten (for the 3 cups). If like me, you can find neither bread flour nor vital wheat gluten, go ahead and make it with plain flour. You’ll still have very nice Bialys that are slightly softer, that’s all. "

Last Saturday I was planning to make these for evening tea time and got the dough ready after first rise by 1pm, and let it sit for second rise. But it wasn’t until 7:30 or so that I got to making them. So all the pics were taken around 8pm, thankfully there was some decent natural light still left for me to quickly take some pics from my patio. And finally we ate them for dinner.  My lil’Appu found them a bit too chewy for his liking, but he did pull, bite and chew and play around with a small piece and ate up all the filling :-) End result, we all liked it and as for Lil’Appu he liked it as well, if only he had more teeth to enjoy them better…Lol!

The suggested filling was caramelized onions flavored with some garam masala (to suit our Indian palette) and topped with crumbled paneer. Now to my luck, I had only half an onion and no paneer , so I modified the filling a bit by using the half onion along with a quarter piece of green and red bell pepper each diced into small cubes and instead of paneer, I topped the Bialys with a little bit of mozzarella.  

I’ve copied the recipe for the Bialys directly from Aparna’sblog and just modified the recipe for the filling. She also provided videos that demonstrates how to make Bialys and also on how to eat them :-)

(Adapted from KingArthur Flour)

For the dough:
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour (use bread flour if you can find it or all-purpose flour + 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten)
1 tsp salt
Milk for brushing the dough

For the Onion Filling:
1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (I used ½ large onion)
¼ piece Green bell pepper (green capsicum) , finely diced
¼ piece red Bell pepper (red capsicum) , finely diced
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
Shredded Mozerella cheese - for topping  (Else use 100gm crumbled Paneer )

1. Make the dough first. If you are using bread flour or vital wheat gluten, then your dough will be tougher to knead so if you have a machine you can use, I would say go ahead and use it. If you’re doing this by hand, just adapt the instructions to that.
2. Put the yeast, sugar, salt and flour in the food processor bowl. Pulse a couple of times to mix and then add the warm water in a steady stream. Knead until the dough comes together as a mass and then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. This will help the dough absorb water. Knead again, adding a little more water or flour (not too much) if you need it, until your dough is smooth and elastic but not sticky.
3. Shape it into a ball and put it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough till it is well coated. Cover and let it rise till about double. This should take about 2 hours. If you’re not making the Bialys right away, you can refrigerate the dough overnight at this point. When ready to make them, keep the dough at room temperature for about half an hour and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
 4. In the meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the oil in a pan, and add the cumin seeds. When the crackle, add the onions, and sauté over low to medium heat. Sprinkle a little salt and continue sautéing until they become soft and turn golden brown in colour. Add the green and red bell peppers and cook until they turn soft. Add the garam masala and stir well. Keep the caramelized onions aside to cool.
5. Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour and place the dough on it. Divide it into 8 equal pieces and shape each one into a roll by flattening it and then pinching the ends together to form a smooth ball. (See this video for shaping rolls, if necessary)
6. Place the rolls on a lightly greased baking sheet and cover them with a towel. Let them rise for about one hour (about  1 1/2 to 2 hours for refrigerated dough)  till pressing with a finger on the top leaves a dent.
7. Work on one piece at a time, while you keep the others covered so they don’t dry out. When the rolls are ready, pick them up one at a time and using your fingers, form the depression in the middle. Hold the roll like a steering wheel with your thumbs in the middle and your fingers around the edges. Pinch the dough between your thumb and fingers, rotating as you go and gradually making the depression wider without actually poking a hole through.  
8. Remember not to press on the edges, or they will flatten out. Once shaped, you should have a depression about 3” in diameter with 1” of puffy dough around the edge, so your Bialy should be about 4” to 5” in diameter. Prick the centre of the Bialy with a fork so the centre doesn’t rise when baking.
9. Place the shaped dough on a parchment lined (or greased) baking tray leaving about 2 inches space between them. Place the caramelised onion filling in the depressions of each Bialy. Brush the outer dough circle with milk. If you’re using crumbled paneer, add it to the Bialys in the last 5 minutes of baking or it will get burnt. ( I used Mozerella, which I added two minutes before baking was done)
10. Bake the Bialys at 230C (450F) for about 15 minutes till they’re golden brown in colour. Cool them on a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. I found that the Bialys keep well in an airtight container for a day or two and just need to be warmed up slightly before serving. This recipe makes 8 largish Bialys.



  1. i've been seeing this all across... it would taste yum for evening chai right... :)

  2. thats just great. can definitely feel the chey texture. good post, Manju!

  3. This looks delicious! I've never even heard of bialys, but I love the idea of being able to fill this with whatever you like...!

  4. Looks like a lovely evening snack Manju :) 8 pm and you still have natural light wow really

  5. Perfectly baked Bialys , loved it... Todays post :http://nayanas-kitchen-kreations.blogspot.in/2013/06/dahi-wada.html

  6. wow well baked rolls,loved the filling...

  7. Great food Manju, love the idea of putting the filling on the middle ..:) look so delicious:)

  8. looks very yummy ............... will try this recipe soon .......... & nice clicks Dear .......

  9. Bialys looks perfect and delicious.. Great snack for tea time.

  10. Tempting snack !! looks YUM !!

  11. What a fun event to participate in! I love your Chewy Rolls topped with Carmelized Onion-Bell pepper filling. Look so cute and I bet they are delicious too. Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. Truly delicious...Such tempting clicks :)

  13. Bialys looks fabulous and especially i love that topping..

  14. What a lovely bread. I love the filling and that roll can make a full meal. :)


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