Living in New York, you come across bialys in many supermarkets. Now, as you may know, bialys are essentially baked flat bagels with an onion center, and they originate in Białystok, Poland (hence the name). Many of these bialys have about 2 pieces of onion on them, which is a bit disappointing.
There is a similar regional pastry from Lublin called lubelskie cebularze, or onion pastries from Lublin. These have a slightly more yeasty and airy dough, and are topped with onion and poppy seeds. This recipe is more similar to that of lubelskie cebularze, however, there are discussions on the internet as to whether truly traditional cebularze would contain egg and butter. It seems as though the answer is no, and this recipe contains both, so there are probably more traditional recipes out there.
Additionally, there are different approaches to preparing the onions. One approach calls for mixing raw onions with salt, poppy seeds and oil and letting the mixture sit for a while so the salt softens the onions. Another approach calls for boiling the chopped onions for about 2 minutes and then combining with the other ingredients. Finally, you can cook the chopped onion on a pan for a few minutes with oil and then add the poppy seeds. I like sauteing on the pan because I like the way it sweetens the onions. Whatever approach you choose, the mix of onion, poppy seeds, and dough will be great combination. 😀
*Makes approximately 12 onion pastries
- 3.5 cups (500g) cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 5 tsp (15g) active dry yeast
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 large or 3 medium yellow onions
- 3 tbsp oil
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1/8 tsp onion powder (optional)
- 1/8 tsp black pepper (optional)
Warm milk and butter in a small pot on very low heat, just until butter has melted and the mixture is warm, not hot. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the warmed milk and butter and the egg and mix everything together, then knead for about 15 minutes by hand, or until it is soft and stretchy, minimally sticky, and holds its shape well (this should take about 7 minutes in an electric mixer with the dough attachment, but you get better incorporation by hand). Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or small towel and let it rest for 1 hour – 1 hour and a half in a warm place. *If you don’t have a warm spot in your home, place a pan at the bottom of your oven with about 4 cups of boiling water. Put dough on the top rack, and keep the oven door closed and oven off. The steam should keep the space warm and moist enough.*
Meanwhile, chop onions into 1/2 inch pieces. Heat oil on a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and salt and other optional seasonings. Stir occasionally and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions soften. Remove from heat, add poppy seeds, and allow to cool.
Once dough has risen, take a small handful of dough and form into a ball (if you have a scale, they should be approximately 72g each). Place on a non-stick sheet pan (or pan with parchment paper) and gently press down to flatted dough, until they are roughly 4 inches wide. Leave about an inch between each.
Top each with onion mix. Leave the formed pastries in a warm spot for 20 minutes to proof. At the end of proofing, you can brush an egg wash or a little melted butter or oil on the pastries to add a shine.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Add pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping pans and switching rack halfway through baking. The bottoms and edges should be slightly golden.
These can be served hot and fresh or cooled. Smacznego!