Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chewy Bialys | We Knead to Bake #5

There was a time when onions were not a part of the daily diet of orthodox Indians especially SouthIndians. Even now in some households it is  a taboo along with garlic. The reason given was they were 'taamasic' products - hot for the body and inturn increase anger and also passion.Even now this policy of abstaining from onion and garlic is followed during fasts and Navaratri festival. 

 There are also good  reasons to include them in the diet. Onion is known for its cooling and digestive properties.A roti with a slice of onion and green chili is a staple lunch in Northern India as well.

But each to his own.I grew up in a household where elders even now don't prefer onions or garlic, but I can't  make without them.Once I started cooking they became a unavoidable part of it and now a week never goes without me polishing off atleast 1 kilo of these in several forms. You can even see these in my breads and recently thanks to We Knead to Bake I tried out Bialys (bee-aah-lees) and it came out excellent.


Bialy is a chewy soft bread roll topped with caramelised onions. Originally from Bialystok, a city in Poland, it spread to other areas like America where Polish or Jews migrated and flourished. 

It can be consumed with creamcheese or butter or as such as I prefer. Believe me, it is best as such. 

I had exactly followed Aparna's recipe and only regret was why I didn't make more. They were over faster than the time it took to make them.

Ingredients:
Instant Yeast: 1 tsp
Sugar: 1 tbsp
Water: 1and 1/4 cup or lesser 
All Purpose Flour: 3 cups
Salt: 1 tsp

Milk for brushing the dough

Filling:
Oil:1 tbsp
Onion: 2 big finely chopped
Cumin seeds: 1.5 tsp
Garam masala: 3/4 -1 tsp 
Salt: as per taste

Preparation:
Put yeast,sugar, salt and flour in the bowl of a food processor.Pulse a few times so that they are well mixed.
Add water in a steady stream -don't add all the quantity- and blend till the dough comes together as a mass. Take out and let the dough /mass rest for atleast 10 minutes.Knead again for few minutes or so adding more flour or water as needed to get a smooth elastic and nonsticky dough.

I had used all the water mentioned and mine turned out sticky.I had to add more flour to get a nonsticky smooth dough.

Shape into a ball and keep it covered in a greased bowl, turning once to coat with oil and let it double. This will take about 2 hours.

If you are not baking bialys straightaway, you can refrigerate the dough after the first rise. This will also make the bialys chewy especially if you are using all purpose flour.

 Traditionally bread flour gives the rolls the chewy texture. If you don't have bread flour, then you can add 1 tsp of vital wheat gluten to 1 cup of all purpose flour to get 1 cup of bread flour.

Anyways, chilling overnight or atleast for an hour gives chewy texture as well. Just keep it out for half an hour in room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

Divide the dough into eight equal pieces on a lightly dusted countertop and shape each one by flattening it in the middle.

Place the rolls on a lightly greased /lined baking sheet and let them rise for about 1.5 -2 hours especially for chilled dough, till a finger pressed on the top leaves a dent.



Meanwhile prepare the filling. Heat oil in a wide deep pan and add cumin seeds.Once they sizzle add finely chopped onion along with little salt. Saute on low fire till they caramelize.Adjust the salt and add garam masala and mix well.Keep it aside.

Once the rolls are ready,work with one piece at a time keeping others covered so that they don't dry out.Pick a piece  and  make a depression in the middle. Hold a piece within both hands like you are holding a steering wheel of your car-thumbs in the middle,finger around the edges.Pinch the dough between your thumb and fingers, rotating as you go  and deepening the middle without actually tearing the piece. This video (part 1 & part 2) is really helpful in shaping and baking bialys.

Make sure not to press on the edges or else they will flatten out.Prick the centre with a fork so that it doesnt rise while baking. Your bialy will be about 4-5 ' in diameter with 1 inch of puffy dough outside and 3' if depression.

Place the shaped bialy on a lined/greased baking sheet with a 2 inches gap between each bialy.Place the onion filling on depression of each bialy. Brush the outer edges with milk.

Bake the bialys at 230C/ 450F for about 15 minutes till golden brown in colour. Cool them on a rack and enjoy them.

I was wondering how they will turn out. The outer crust looked too crispy for me. But one bite, it was heaven. It was soft, chewy and perfect.The recipe gives 8 large bialys or more depending on how you cut and shaped.

Lets see how other Bialys turned out. Hope over to Aparnas while taking a bite from here. 

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