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January 23, 2023
Noah FecksNoah Fecks

Bialys originated in Bialystok, Poland; they were brought to the United States by Jewish immigrants in the early 1900s. Cousin to the bagel, bialys are fun, small, round breads with an indent rather than a hole—all the better for cradling the traditional seasonings like onion, salt, and poppy seeds. Baked bialys freeze well.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life.

Featured in: Jewish Father-in-Law’s Day


  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2envelopes (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2cups very warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
  • 1teaspoon sugar
  • 6 to 7cups bread flour, plus extra for the work surface
  • 1 ½tablespoons kosher salt, plus additional for onion topping and sprinkling
  • 3tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1tablespoon poppy seeds (optional)
Yield: 16 bialys


  • Step 1

    Coat a large bowl with olive oil and set aside.

  • Step 2

    Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a separate bowl, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar. Stir in about 5 1/2 cups of the flour and 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt. Continue adding flour until the dough holds together. Transfer to a floured board, and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth (the dough will be very dense). Form into a ball.

  • Step 3

    Place the dough in the oiled bowl, then remove it, turn it over, and place it (oiled side up) back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

  • Step 4

    Uncover dough and press down the middle to deflate. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces and roll into balls. Place on a lightly floured or parchment-lined surface, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise until nearly doubled (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours).

  • Step 5

    Prepare the onion topping by placing the dried onion in a small dish and covering with 1/2 cup very warm water. Let stand for at least 15 minutes. Drain any excess water, and toss with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.

  • Step 6

    Adjust the oven rack to the second-to-top position, and place a baking stone or a baking sheet on the rack. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper roughly the size of the stone or pan and set aside on the counter.

  • Step 7

    Take one ball of dough (keeping the rest covered), and flatten on a lightly floured surface. Stretch with fingers to 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Gently pull the center and then press very firmly with thumbs until the dough holds a thin, 2-inch-wide indent (the thinner the indent, the more likely it will keep its shape during baking). The bialy will look somewhat flat, but the edges will puff up during baking.

  • Step 8

    Place on the parchment, and brush with egg yolk mixture, sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, fill indent with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the onion mixture, and sprinkle all over with poppy seeds if using. Repeat with remaining balls.

  • Step 9

    When the parchment is full of shaped bialys, slide it directly onto the hot stone or baking sheet in the oven, and bake until bialys are lightly browned, 9 to 12 minutes. Remove to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batches.

  • Step 10

    Serve warm or at room temperature with butter or cream cheese.