Bialys - Flat, round baked rolls topped with onion. Well, that's the traditional way of making bialys, but in the spirit of experimentation, I thought I'd try a sweet version as well.
The dough can be as simple or as complicated as you wish, but these were made with a basic bread dough in one of my sessions in Longrun Care Home, Taunton.
|Savoury, with finely chopped onions and breadcrumbs|
|Sweet, with chopped dark chocolate and sultanas|
200g or 1 mug strong flour – either all white or a mix of white and wholemeal
¼ teaspoon salt
125ml or 1/3rd mug lukewarm water
1 tsp yeast, fresh or dried
Splash of olive oil (optional)
Medium onion, finely sliced, and a handful of breadcrumbs
1. Measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Place the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid, and add the olive oil if using.
2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough as it forms. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.
3. Knead by flattening the dough out, folding it over and flattening it again. If the dough is too sticky, instead of putting extra flour on your worktop, place some in the bowl, put the dough back in and turn it round to coat it all over. That way you keep the flour under control and you won’t be tempted to add too much. Knead until the dough becomes smooth – and then stop before you get fed up!
4. Divide the dough into 6 pieces with the side of your hand and give yourself plenty of room on your worktop. Take one of the pieces in each hand and flatten them down with the palms of your (flat) hand. Keeping them pressed down, gently move them round in a circle. After a couple of circles, start to ease the pressure off. Still moving in circles, let your hands form a hollow shape. Gradually cup your hands and relax the pressure, whilst still making the circular movement. Your little finger and thumb should make contact in turn with the side of the roll as it tightens up. Ease off the pressure altogether, and you should have a couple of bun shapes! Place the rolls either on greased bun trays or on oven trays lined with baking parchment.
5. Take each of the rolls and make push a couple of fingers down into the roll, without making a hole. Widen the hole out, using your fingers and thumb – you’re looking for a deep depression. I finished off the hole by pressing the end of a rolling pin down into the hole.
6. Mix the onion and breadcrumbs together and divide the mixture between each of the rolls.
7. Cover and leave to prove until the rolls have doubled in size, then bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 15-20 minutes.
For sweet bialys, use a dessertspoon of sugar instead of salt, and fill the rolls with chopped dark chocolate and sultanas. It’s best if the sultanas are soaked overnight.