Yield: 12 Servings
|2¼ cup||Warm water; (105¡F to 115¡F)|
|2¼ teaspoon||Active dry yeast|
|2 teaspoons||Malt extract or sugar|
|2 tablespoons||Solid vegetable shortening|
|⅓ cup||Yellow onion; minced|
|1 teaspoon||Fresh ground black pepper; optional|
|3 cups||High-gluten flour; bread flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour -Topping & Dough---|
|2 tablespoons||Vegetable oil|
|1 cup||Yellow onion; minced|
|2 teaspoons||Poppy seeds|
|\N \N||Fresh ground black pepper; to taste|
|2 tablespoons||Unsalted butter (approx); melted|
|\N \N||The Sponge from above|
|3 cups||High-gluten flour; bread flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour, approximately|
The bialy, a culinary gift from Bialystok, Poland, is best known as the roll that keeps the bagel company at a New York brunch. It does, however, have a distinctive personality of its own. The bialy is a doughy roll, flat in the center and puffy around the rim, that's sprinkled with sauted onions. Few things smell better when they're toasting, and, oddly, the bialy is almost always toasted, even when it's at its freshest. For a taste of New York, split and toast a bialy, spread it with butter, and lay on a few pieces of kippered (hot-smoked) salmon, a slab of tomato, and a slice of red onion, or just slather it with Vegetable Cream Cheese.
Prepare The Sponge: Pour ¼ cup of the water into a small bowl; add the yeast and a drop of the malt extract or a pinch of sugar and whisk to combine. Allow the mixture to rest until the yeast dissolves and turns creamy, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the solid shortening in a small skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions and saut until softened, about 3 minutes. Scrape the onions and the melted shortening into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddles attachment. Add the remaining 2 cups water and malt extract or sugar, and the black pepper, if you're using it.
Add the creamy yeast to the mixing bowl, making certain that the temperature of the ingredients already in the bowl doesn't exceed 110¡F; if the mixture's too hot, give it a few minutes to cool to 110¡F. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour in a steady stream, mixing until the flour is incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes.
Scrape down the bowl and paddle with a rubber spatula and remove the bowl from the mixer.
Rise: Cover with plastic wrap and let the sponge rise at room temperature for
Prepare The Topping and Dough: Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saut the onions and poppy seeds until the onions are soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with pepper and let cool.
Brush the inside of a large mixing bowl with some of the melted butter; set aside. Reserve the remaining melted butter for coating the top of the dough.
Mixing and Rising: When the sponge is fully risen, return the bowl to the mixer. On low speed, working with the paddle or dough hook, beat in the salt and as much flour as needed to make a dough that cleans the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead briskly until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the buttered mixing bowl.
Brush the top of the dough with a little butter, cover the bowl with buttered plastic wrap, and top with a towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 1 ½ hours, or until double in bulk.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 500¡F. If you'll be baking the bialys on baking sheets, brush the sheets with vegetable oil (or spray them) and dust them with cornmeal. Dust two kitchen towels with cornmeal. (To create steam in the oven, you'll be tossing ice cubes and water onto the oven floor. If you don't think your oven floor is up to this - it can be tricky with a gas oven - put a heavy skillet or roasting pan on the oven floor and preheat it as well.) continued in part 2