I almost forgot it was World Bread Day! But, my weekend baking actually applies pretty well to the holiday.
Yesterday I baked bialys. I learned about these breads from an employer, who wanted me to develop them as a product for their bakery. She loaned me her book The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and a Lost World by Mimi Sheraton. The bialy is a small yeast roll, similar to a bagel, which was invented by jewish bakers in Bialystok Poland. Unfortunately, after the holocaust and World War II, the bread was mostly lost to Poland and exists only in adopted countries where survivors immigrated and recreated traditional breads. In the book, Mimi Sheraton travels to Bialystok and talks to people about their memories of the rolls. It's a rather sad book, as she often discovers how much was lost from the traditions of Poland, and is really more of an anthropological tale more than a food book, but it's still an interesting read.
This batch I used the recipe from Artisan Breads Across America, by Maggie Glazer. Supposedly it is adapted from Kossar's Baker in New York, who is famous for their Bialys.
Bialys are made from a stiff, lean dough, and Glazer recommends a food processor for kneading, which I didn't find necessary (my DLX was fine with the workload). When I baked these at the bakery, I used to retard the dough overnight, which worked great. This time I just made them in a single day: a 2-3 hour first rise, then formed them into 2.75 ounce rounds, and let them proof another couple of hours unti large, soft, and puffy. My house was a little dry so I spritzed the rounds with water to keep them from forming a skin.
Once the rounds are proofed, the special shaping comes into play. You pick up the round, stick your thumbs in the middle and gently pull outward, creating a thin depression (but not a hole!) in the middle. The center dough will be nearly see-through, and will bake up crispy. An onion/poppyseed mixture is schmeared on top of the rolls, and they are then baked in a very hot (450 degrees+) oven. They will brown up nicely in 8 or 9 minutes: watch them closely and pull them out when they are brown. Unlike Bagels these rolls are not boiled first: they have a nice chewy crust right out of the oven but can lose a little something with age--reheating or a quick toasting helps with that! It's a little tricky to get the center "hole' big enough so that it doesn't close up during baking--every roll turns out a little different!
We ate them plain right out of the oven, and later on split them and ate them toasted with cream cheese.