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Bialys in Ojai

Here is another recipe from the Viewpoints tour. We had the pleasure of eating homemade bialys made by our tango dancer friend, teacher and host Stephen Bauer in Ojai, CA last summer. Stephen is also known for his “Tango Chef” workshops which teach people about how to make “kinetic concoctions for tastier tango.”

His is a little bialy history from

“Outside of New York City, the bialy is little known. Bialys came to the United States from Bialystok, Poland, and they are sometimes known as Bialystok Kuchen. In the early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of Eastern European Jews immigrated to American and settled in New York City. They brought with them their taste and recipes for bialys. While there were once dozens of bialy bakeries in New York, the number can now be counted on one hand. Bialys have long been a staple in New York delicatessens and a favorite of the Jewish community. True bialy lovers know where the best bakeries are. In fact, Manhattan’s Lower East Side is lovingly called “Bialy Central.”

A bialy is similar to a bagel, in that it is a round, chewy roll. But it is unlike a bagel in three important ways: One, it does not have a hole in the middle, but a depression; two, bialys never became popular outside of New York City; and three, bagels are boiled and bialys are baked. The indentation in the middle of the dough is filled with onion, garlic, or poppy seeds. Because the bialy has a very short shelf like, about 6 hours, they do not lend to being shipped around the country. They can be modest in size, 3 to 4 inches, or the size of a small pizza. Similar to the bialy is the onion pletzel and the onion board, popular Jewish breads from other countries.”


Onion Topping (recipe below)
2 cups warn water (110 to 115 degrees), divided
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups bread flour
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal.

Prepare Onion Topping; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup water, yeast, and sugar; let stand 10 minutes or until foamy. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups water, salt, bread flour, and all-purpose flour. Knead by hand or with dough hook of mixer for 8 minutes until smooth (the dough will be soft). If you think the dough is too moist – add flour, a tablespoon at a time. If the dough is looking dry and gnarly – add warm water, a tablespoons at a time.

Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 1/2 hours or until tripled in bulk. Punch dough down in bowl, turn it over, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise another 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

On a floured board or counter, punch dough down and roll into a cylinder shape. With a sharp knife, cut cylinder into 8 rounds. Lay dough rounds flat on a lightly floured board, cover with a towel, and let them rest 10 minutes. Gently pat each dough round into circles (a little higher in the middle than at the edge), each about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Place bialys on prepared baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise an additional 30 minutes or until increased by about half in bulk (don’t let them over-rise.

Make an indention in the center of each bialy with two fingers of each hand, pressing from the center outward, leaving a 1-inch rim. Place approximately 1 teaspoon of Onion Topping in the hole of each bialy. Dust lightly with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Bake on upper and lower shelves of the oven for 6 to 7 minutes, then switch pans and reverse positions of pans (front to back), and bake another 5 to 6 minutes until bialys are lightly browned. NOTE: These are soft rolls, and it is important not to bake them too long or they will be very dry. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks.

After cooling, immediately place in a plastic bag (this will allow the exterior to soften slightly). NOTE: These rolls are best eaten fresh, preferably lightly toasted and smeared with cream cheese. For longer storage, keep in the freezer.

Makes 8 bialys.


1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/3 cup minced onion
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

In a small bowl, combine vegetable or olive oil, poppy seeds, onions, and salt; set aside.



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