For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

Bialys were once the life-bread of Bialystok, Poland. They resemble a bagel, although the hole does not go all the way through—the depression is usually filled with minced onions and poppy seeds. Also, bialys, unlike bagels, are not boiled prior to baking. A terrific read about the history of this special bread is The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and a Lost World, where the author, Mimi Sheraton, sets out to find an authentic bialy in Bialystok, only to find that nearly all of the original bakers are gone.

This also makes an exceptionally good pizza dough. After the first 2-hour rise, punch down, let rest for 10 minutes, then shape into pizza doughs.


For the dough:

  • 2 c. warm water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2¼ tsp. yeast (1 package)
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 5 c. flour

For the filling:

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. poppy seeds
  • ½ tsp. salt (preferably coarse kosher salt)


  1. In a large bowl or mixer, mix together the water, sugar and yeast. Let rest about 10 minutes until bubbly.
  2. Stir in the salt and flour. Knead for 10 minutes. Cover and let rise for 2–3 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough, divide in half and roll into two 8″- long cylinders. Cut each into 8 pieces. Let the dough rest for a few minutes on a lightly floured board, while you prepare the filling.
  4. For the filling, mix together the onion, olive oil, poppy seeds and salt. Set aside.
  5. Form each piece of dough into a ball, and place onto a parchment-covered baking sheet, and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1–1½ hours.
  6. Using a small glass or jar that is 2″–3″ in diameter, press a deep indentation into each dough-ball. The glass will probably stick to the dough, so you can grease it (just dip it lightly into your filling mixture) and flour it before pressing into the dough. Or use your hands to form the shape.
  7. Spoon ½ teaspoon of filling into the indentation.
  8. Preheat oven to 475°.
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes until just lightly browned. Do not let them get dark brown, since bialys are meant to be sliced and toasted before eating.

The flattened rounds of dough at the end of their rise.

Grease and flour a 2″ glass, then press into the risen dough.

These are filled and ready for the oven.

Sliced and toasted. Bialys are good with butter, cream cheese, lox, jam, or…?


4 thoughts on “Bialys

  1. OK, Dorifan, who wants to get together at Temple and make these some Sunday morning? Dori left one of her mixers in the Temple. I’ll bring ingredients. If someone else would volunteer to bring SKILL?

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