A traditional bialy, or cebularz as it is known in Poland and is a chewy yeast roll similar to a bagel. Unlike a bagel, which is boiled before baking, a bialy is simply baked, and instead of a hole in the middle it has a depression. I have made my bialy with yoghurt and dates to provide a creamy sweet filling.
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp of water
- 1-1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- cornmeal or semolina flour for shaping
- 7-8 large dates
- 2 tsp melted unsalted butter
- 5 tbsp plain yoghurt (drained for 2hours to extract extra water) Original recipe was cream cheese
- white sesame seeds to sprinkle
PREPARE THE DOUGH: In a stand-mixer with dough-hook, knead bread flour, water, sea salt, light brown sugar, instant dry yeast and onion powder on low speed until the dough comes together. Turn to high speed and knead for another 8 minutes until the dough is very elastic and smooth. The dough should feel soft, moist and slightly tacky, light a baby’s bottom, but pulls away cleanly from the bowl when the machine is running. If the dough feels tough and rubbery, add a tbsp more water and knead until smooth.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until fully doubled, about 2 ~ 4 hours (this largely depends on how warm and humid the environment is). Scrape the dough onto a lightly dusted working surface and divide into 5 equal portions, then keep tucking each dough under and into itself until the surface is smooth and round. Coat each dough with cornmeal or semolina flour, then place onto a baking-sheet with at least 4″ of space in between each. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until almost doubled, about 2 hours. Try dipping your finger gently into the dough, and if the indentation stays without springing back, the dough is ready.
When the dough is almost ready, preheat the oven on 450 F/230 C, then place a cake pan filled halfway with hot water DIRECTLY on the bottom of the oven(this creates a moist environment that helps form a crust).
SHAPE AND BAKE: Halve the dates and remove the pits, then mix the dates evenly with melted butter, set aside. Dust the surface of each dough with more cornmeal or semolina. Slightly flatten each dough, then use the knuckles of your fingers to gently press and create a wide and deep crater in the center of each dough (kind of like making a fat mini pizza). To make sure that the crater doesn’t spring back during baking, I highly recommend poking a few holes inside the crater with your fingers (as pictured).
Now, smear 1 tbsp of cream cheese into each craters, then press about 1.5 dates into the cream cheese (avoid tips sticking out in the air to prevent burning), and sprinkle a little white sesame seeds over the top. If you have a spray bottle that forms fine mists, thoroughly mist the enter surface of the bialy until wet. This helps create a crust as well.
Transfer the baking sheet into the oven, closing it as fast as you can to avoid losing steam, and bake for 10~15 min until the surface is lightly browned. Let them cool slightly on a cooling-rack but they are best when warm and crusty right out of the oven.
Adapted from Ladyandpups.com