Bialy – the alternative bagel

Jane Mason
Bialys originate in Bialystock, Poland. They are a traditional Jewish bread. Like a very fat mini pizza, or a sfeeha, they are round with a very thin bottom crust in the centre and fatter edges. The traditional topping or filling is onion and, in some cases, poppy seeds. I prefer to use a TINY amount of caraway seed. People should say "yum". if they say, "this tastes like caraway", you have used too many!



  • 240 g strong white flour
  • 140 g water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch yeast any kind you have


  • 465 g strong white flour
  • 250 g water
  • 2.5 g instant yeast OR 5 g dry, active yeast OR 10 g fresh yeast
  • 10 g salt


  • 1 large onion peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter OR olive oil (basically the fat of your choice
  • 1 tiny pinch caraway seeds

Egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch sugar


The night before you want to bake

  • Stir together the pre-dough ingredients.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave on counter overnight.

The next day

  • If you are using dry, active yeast, measure it into a large mixing bowl and add the water. Leave it for 15 minutes to dissolve. Then, add the rest of the dough ingredients and the pre dough. If you are using instant or fresh yeast, simply measure all the dough ingredients into a big mixing bowl and add the pre dough.
  • Knead well for 10 minutes.  It is dry dough, so it's hard to knead.  Do not be tempted to add more water. Cover and let rest for 90 minutes.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into pieces that weigh about 75 grams. Shape each into a tight ball and place them on baking sheets you have lined with grease proof paper. Let them rest for 10 minutes and then flatten each of them – really flatten them using your hands.  Cover them and let them rest for a further 45 minutes.  
  • Pre heat the oven to 220 C/450 F.  
  • To make the final shape, use the palm of your hand to flatten the discs again and then, use your fingers to press (super firm pressing) a large, flat hollow in the centre of each of the discs of dough. You want each disc to have a large, round indentation where the dough on the bottom is extremely thin, leaving a fatter edge.  Imagine tiny little pizzas.  Use a brush to brush each piece of dough thoroughly with the egg wash.  Using a spoon, place some of the minced onion into the centre of each piece of dough  and then spread it out to fill the hollow. Pop the trays in the oven and bake them for 15 minutes or so.  They should puff up and be nice and brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the filling while the dough is rising

  • Heat the oil gently in a saucepan and add the onion and the caraway seeds. Cover the pan and let the onion sweat on very low heat for 15 minutes. When it is soft and beginning to caramelise, scrape it into a magimix and blend to a fine paste.  You can also use a hand blender for this job.  Let cool completely.

Make the egg wash while the dough is rising

  • Beat the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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