first step was to create a sponge. my husband likes to give me little gifts to use while baking. he gave me this jar of malt syrup and when i saw that the recipe called for malt syrup or sugar, i went with malt. in commercial bakeries, malt syrup is used frequently since it offers flavor as well as the needed sugar to feed the yeast.
the sponge is mixed up and allowed to sit for an hour. it isn’t a very long amount of time but it does contribute to the flavor of the finished product by allowing the onion flavor to steep into the dough.
the dough is mixed up and kneaded with the mixer-at least mine was. then it sits for a while as it is allowed to double in size.
having made many dinner and sandwich rolls in my time, i could not shape the bialys without first giving them a little twist. after cutting up the dough, i placed a ball of dough in my hand and gently rotated it in a clockwise motion-you can see that my fingers are closed around the dough and touch the table. this gentle twist makes a perfect ball of dough that will give the final bialy a nicer, round shape.
keep in mind that you do not need to go crazy, just a few quick swirls around the table; the longer you do it, the tighter the ball gets and the harder it is to make the final flattened round of dough needed for an authentically shaped bialy.
placed on a cornmeal dusted peel and topped with onions and poppy seeds, these tasty treats are ready to hit the heated stone in the oven.
as the afternoon wore on, the light shifted in the kitchen, these bialys would have to wait patiently for my husband to arrive.
the recipe called for cutting the dough into 12 pieces, i went a little smaller and cut the dough into 16 pieces. the result was that i was able to share a few as well as eat a few without my husband missing out on any. to preserve them, i wrapped them individually in plastic wrap, bagged them up and froze them. he now has a snack when he wants one!
true fans know that slitting and toasting them is optional and not necessarily correct. old time bialy eaters heat them whole and put a bit of butter in the center with the onions. however you like them, this recipe worked out well and my husband gave them a firm “pretty good, but…” and i will take that as a check in the success column. to learn more about bialys, look for a copy of the book, “the bialy eaters: the story of a bread and a lost world” by mimi sheraton and if you want to try a true bialy but do not want to make them, order some from kossar’s, they ship!