The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Shai's blog

Shai's picture

Hello all, 

I wanted to share toady's bake of bialys.

They are plump, airy, soft, with a moist, slightly sweet crust, with a very nice flavor, and a soft yet chewy crust.

The filling is of poppy seeds and caramelized onions, the way may grandmother, who grow in Poland, used to bake them for my mother when she was a child. They used to call them "פלצלעך" - Pletzlach (plural for Pletzel).

Her recipe is lost, so I constructed this one, with a dough based on my usual pizza recipe, with adaptations in hydration and fat, as well as adding 7% WW flour. I also referenced Jeffry Helmsman's recipe while creating this one.

This recipe is for 8 bialys, baked in two batches. 


  • 400g strong bread flour (93%)
  • 30g whole wheat flour (7%)
  • 8.5g salt (2%)
  • 6g instant (active) yeast (1.4%)
  • 12g honey (2.8%)
  • 265g water (24 deg C) (62%)
  • 8g soft butter (1.8%)

Onion filling:

  • 2 large yellow onions (about 350g unpeeled, 270g peeled), finely cut (0.5cm wide square pieces)
  • 15 g butter
  • 20 g whole poppy seeds
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a small pan and fry the onion over medium heat until caramelized and medium brown. Try not to scorch it. Add poppy and salt, mix well and chill.


Making the dough (1 to 3 days ahead of baking):

  • In a mixer bowel, with the dough hook, place all of the ingredients except for the butter.
  • Mix on low speed to combine - 30 seconds.
  • Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  • Cover and rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Mix on medium speed for 2 more minutes. 
  • Add butter and mix for 4-5 minutes, until the dough is strong and firm. It should be smooth, dense and slightly tacky.
  • Lightly grease a bowl and place dough inside. Lightly coat the top of the dough with oil.
  • Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

Preparing and baking:

  •  About 2.5 hours before planing to eat the bialys, remove dough from fridge.
  • Pour the cold dough on a lightly floured surface, try not to pull or stretch the dough.
  • Very lightly flatten the dough, divide to 8 equal pieces, 90g each.
  • Cover with a towel to keep the dough pieces from drying while not working with them.
  • Pull in the sides of each piece upwards and inwards to form a ball with tight surface area - slightly like a dumpling in shape.
  • Pinch the top shut.
  • Roll to form a smooth ball.
  • Dust with flour on both sides and place on a well floured surface. Cover with a towel.
  • Repeat with all pieces.
  • Proof for 2 to 2 1/4 hours (my room temp is 23-24 deg C, adjust proofing time accordingly)
  • 45 minutes before proofing ends, heat oven to 260 deg C (500 deg F).
  • When fully proofed, the dough balls should be double in volume, soft, airy and quite tacky.
  • My oven baking sheets can only take 4 bialys at a time. So 4 of the balls are placed covered in the fridge, while I bake the first 4.
  • Over a well floured surface, slightly flatten the dough ball, pop any very large bubbles that may form.
  • Hold dough disc in both hands using the thumb and finger, stretch the dough to a disc with a very thin center, like when forming a pizza. The rim should be left unstretched and airy and be about 0.5 a cm in width.
  • Place the dough on the floured surface, lightly flour on top, and stretch with both hands form the inside outside, in a circular motion. The dough should look like a small pizza and have a 13-15 cm diameter.
  • Place the dough on a baking sheet covered with parchment. If needed, adjust to restore a round shape.
  • Place 2 tablespoons of the filling on the dough and spread almost to the inner side of the rim.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 9 to 10 minutes, until the bialys are plump, light golden-brown on their sides, and a nice medium brown on top. They should not be to dark, and shouldn't be evenly colored. Hover, they should not be pale.
  • Remove and place to cool on a wire rack.
  • While the first batch is baking, remove the second one from the fridge. Shape and bake the same way. The second batch might take up to a minute longer to bake.
  • Let chill for 10-20 minutes minimum. Serve warm (they can be re-warmed in the oven for a minute or so of needed).

Happy Baking!

Shai's picture

Today's bake is a focaccia! I've made a more then a few over the years and tried many recipes, and this is the one that finally pleased me.

It's based on this old post & recipe, with only minor adjustments.

To me, a focaccia should be relatively tall, at least an inch high. It should have a thin, crisp, golden crust, not chewy. It should taste of olive oil, but also have the flavors that can develop in a good lean good bread. It should have a soft crumb, substantial enough to use as a sandwich or to dip in sauce, but also light and airy, with large holes.

And boy did this bread delivered!

Iv'e mostly followed the recipe, scaling it down a little, and baking at a higher temperature, for a slightly longer time. Iv'e also placed the pan with the dough in it over a pre-heated baking stone (or baking iron in my case, 1/4" thick).

The texture and crust of this bread are good because of the lower protein content of the AP flour compared to bread flour. I've found that the bread flour results in chewy texture. The oil in the dough also helps shortening the gluten, making it a softer and crisper.

I think that the dough and I could have handle even higher hydration. I might try it next time with some more water and a slightly hotter oven.

Iv'e used "Leaven", which is a new web tool by keenanwl that let's you share recipes, document your bread making progress, and divide it to steps, giving you a schedule and sending you SMS reminders.
You can view the post about it here.
The tool is still WIP, but I think it has much potential. You can view the recipe and my making progress in it. Make sure to use it if you decide to make this bread (which I highly suggest that you'll do).

Me and my family ate it with fresh vegetables, home made tahini, fresh ricotta and some aged Roquefort (not together, I can't imagine a blue cheese tahini combo :-S ). It makes amazing sandwiches.

Amount for 28-29cm (11") round pan

  • 160 g AP flour (48%)
  • 170 g Warm water (52%)
  • 1/8 tspn Instant yeast (?%)

Final Dough:

  • All of poolish (100%)
  • 170 g AP flour (52%)
  • 85 g Warm water (37 deg C)
  • 42 g Olive oil (13%)
  • 7.5 g Salt (1.5 tspn) (2%)
  • 3/4 tspn Instant yeast (?%)
For topping:
  • 1-2 table spoon rosemary leaves
  • Coarse salt to taste

The night before baking:

  • Mix poolish
  • Cover and let rest in room temp for 3 hours, until bubbly
  • Put in fridge overnight for at least 12 hours
On Baking day
  • Remove from fridge and let warm in room temp for 1 hour. dough temp should end up at 19 deg C
  • Add warm water (37 deg C)
  • Mix on low speed using whisk until homogeneous, 3 minutes 
  • Add oil and whisk to combine, 2 minutes
  • Switch to paddle attachment
  • Add flour, salt and yest, mix to combine, 2 min
  • Mix on medium speed until medium gluten development, 5 min
  • Oil a large baking sheet
  • Pour the watery dough to sheet
  • Let rest for 5 minutes
  • Do a double stretch and fold
  • Rest covered for 25 minutes
  • Repeat until folding 4 times, for a total of 1.5 hours of bulk fermentation
  • Oil a metal pan
  • Transfer dough to pen and oil lightly
  • Use fingertips to flatten the dough to fill the pan
  • Try to get an equal height throughout
  • If the dough is bouncing back, let it rest a couple of minutes, then continue stretching
  • Spread rosemary leaves or other toppings, do not spread salt yet as to not draw out moisture.
  • Preheat oven with baking stone placed at lower third to 250 deg C (480 deg F)
  • Let dough proof (covered) for 1.5 hours while oven is heating
  • Sprinkle some more olive oil and coarse salt over dough
  • Dimple aggressively using fingertips, try to remove bubbles, but do not degas completely
  • Place pans with dough over the hot stone 
  • Bake 20 to 22 minutes, until golden-brown
  • If needed, rotate pan 180 deg mid bake
  • Remove from pan and let chill on cooling rack for 20 minutes before cutting


Shai's picture

Hello all, this is my first post over here :)

Iv'e been learning from this site for a long while now, and thought it's time to start posting the results.

This is my third or so attempt at baking a sabbatical with the goal of creating a nice, open, crumb - and I think I've finally nailed it.

The recipe is based at the recipe from "Baking Artisan Bread" by Ciril Hitz.

Made a 1:1 poolish and left it to ferment 16 hours overnight.

Final dough:

  • Bread flour 100%
  • Cold water 66%
  • Yeast 1%
  • Salt 3%
  • Poolish (1:1) 107%

    Hydration of final dough is 77%

Mixed poolish with yeast, most of the water (85% of them), and a few tablespoons of the flour - until aerated.

Added rest of flour and kneaded in mixer for a few minutes, until a sticky but formed and homogeneous dough was formed.

Left to autolyse for 30 min.

Added salt and kneaded in mixer for 13 minutes, during which I've slowly incorporated the leftover water. Dough should be somewhat developed by now.

Poured sticky dough into an oiled oven sheet. Left to rest (covered) for 25 min.

Preformed a double stretch and fold sequence. Left to rest for another 25 minutes

Repeat until 4 double S&Fs where preformed. Finish with 25 minute rest.

Flour top of dough and work surface with lots of flour.

Flipped dough and let fall from oven sheet onto the working surface.

Flipped half of dough over itself and floured it's top.

cut dough into apx 220g pieces.

cut a thin strip of dough from each piece and stick it on top of it (this will result in a weak spot that will allow the bread to expend without the need of scoring the sticky dough).

Flip the dough pieces onto a well floured couche. Flour top part of dough.

Cover and let proof for about 20 min (use finger pocking test).

Flip pieces again and place on a baking steel, placed in the middle of a super hot oven (I've preheated mine for an hour with broiler on max).

Poured a cup of hot water into a pan at the bottom of the oven. Spray oven walls with water.

Baked for 7 minutes, until oven spring has ended, and the breads no longer expand.

Reduce thermostat to 250 deg C, open oven and remove steam pan.

Continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes with oven door slightly open - until crust is browned to your preference. Bread inner temp should be at least 98 deg C (100 deg in my case).

Turned of oven heating and left to cool in oven with convection on for 10 minutes. (I've flipped the breads on their tops, so that the bottom won't continue baking from the steel leftover heat).

Remove excess flour from bread crust.

Crumb was open, soft and tasty.

Crust a little to dark and hard to my liking (Iv'e managed to injure my inner cheek...).

Taste was good for a lean yeasted bread, but I would like to improve it.


Made awesome sandwiches with some moldy cheese and fresh vegetables.



Thank you for reading, I'll appreciate feedback!

    - Shai

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