The bialy is a small roll that, according to Wikipedia, is found in Polish and Ashkenazi Polish culture. It has many similarities to a bagel. Although it isn’t boiled after proofing, just baked, it still retains the dense chewiness and flavour found in that ubiquitous bread product.
I had planned on making the usual yeast based version but recently ran across a small jar of sourdough starter at the back of my fridge. I saw the layer of hooch on top, because I hadn’t fed it since the end of October, and decided to revive it. I should have taken a day or two to bring it back but, nine hours after feeding it with a mixture of whole wheat and all purpose flour, it had doubled in volume, so I used the recipe found on the “Sourdough and Olives” website, and made a small batch of bialys.
For a topping I used some leftover sauteed onions mixed with a bit of olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. A sprinkling of poppy seeds over the top, and I had a traditional bialy. When I ran out of topping for the last few bialys, I used a mixture of pizza sauce, grated mozzarella and julienned pepperoni sausage and made a tasty pizza bialy.
REVIEW: In spite of the less than optimal conditions for making these, including a starter that wasn’t as active as I would have liked, the results were delicious. The crust was thin and crunchy while the interior was chewy. The oven spring (baked at 480 deg F for 22 min) was amazing and I ended up with little volcanoes rather than the little frisbees I was expecting (hoping for). I would consider reducing the baking temperature on repeating the recipe or even use a fix that I found on another site … placing a sheet of parchment paper on top of the bialys and then covering with a second baking sheet to compress the rise for the first ten minutes of baking before continuing to bake them, uncovered for another ten to fifteen minutes.
Piping hot bialy ripped open to show the crumb