Bialys are round, low, chewy yeast-risen Polish / Jewish bread rolls with an indentation in the centre at the top that is filled with chopped onion. Sometimes, they are sprinkled with poppy seed as well.
Bialys are not good day-old; they really need to be eaten as a soft, fresh roll. They can be eaten throughout the day at all meals.
The dough is made from flour and yeast. It is allowed to rise once, then punched down, formed into flat disks about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) across, then covered in the middle with onion paste or chopped, sautéed onion, then let rise again.
Bialys are baked.
Bialys are good with cream cheese. Don’t slice a Bialys in half the way you would a bagel; instead just spread the cream cheese on the top, or bottom.
Bialystok is a large city in Poland and part of Russia until 1918. Bialys were a traditional food there amongst the Jews, before the Holocaust. The recipe came to North America about the same time as the bagel, around the start of the 1900s.
Bialys are now really only available in New York City (USA), because the Jewish population in Bialystok, Poland that made them was wiped out in 1941.
“Bialystoker kuchen” meant “Bialystok cakes” in Yiddish.
Carter, Syliva. For Many, A Bialy Is The Bread Of a Lifetime. Newsday. 6 September 2000.