‘Once upon a time a twenty-something British girl lived and worked in New York City. This was a long time ago, before the word ‘blogging’ had even entered the dictionary. She worked hard and enjoyed all the city had to offer – the wonderful museums, theatre, culture and shopping. Indeed, she made a great attempt to sample many of the City’s restaurants and bars by working her way through the latest NYC Zagat’s guides. For the most part she loved the FOOD. Oh, she so enjoyed the variety on offer but unfortunately was unable to appreciate it until she moved away. But this story does have a happy ending. Nearly 15 years later, the ‘Brit’ as she was called, can recreate some of these foods in her own kitchen.’

Hurrah! Thanks to Marc Grossman’s fabulous ‘New York Cult Recipes’ I can get all nostalgic over New York food again.

Enter, the Bialy…bialys22Bialys came to the United States from Bialystok in Poland and are sometimes known as Bialystok Kuchen. They are a long standing favourite in New York Delicatessens and a favourite of the Jewish community. Although is looks similar to a bagel is does vary. A bialy has a filled hollow of onion and poppy seeds, instead of a hole and the dough is baked and not boiled (like a bagel).bialys23Very easy to make, I adjusted this recipe by reducing the salt content. (I understand that it is meant to be salty but I didn’t want to offer my kids something with such a high salt content). I don’t think I have compromised the taste by doing so. I also adapted the filling quantity.


I love enjoying these memorable flavours at home and these bialys are so, so good served warm, with cream cheese…




Makes 6


  • 400g strong white bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant active yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 250ml lukewarm water
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • For the Filling
  • 11/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 75g onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • Finishing
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Flour for dusting (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook, place the flour, salt, one side of the bowl, and the yeast to the other. In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil and lukewarm water. Add the water to the dry ingredients and mix until a dough comes together. Knead for about 10 minutes. Form into a ball.
  2. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Prepare a baking tray by lining with baking parchment, greasing and sprinkling with flour, or semolina.
  4. Once proved, tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into six equal portions. Shape into small balls and flatten slightly with your hands. Equally space on the prepared baking tray. With your fingers, pinch together the outside edges of the flattened balls, twice, so forming little peaks (see photo). Cover with food wrap and allow to prove for a further hour. Whilst proving, make the filling.
  5. In a small pan, heat the oil and sauté the onions, poppy seeds and salt. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the oven to 230 degrees C, or gas mark 8.
  7. Once proved, with the back of a spoon, form large hollows in the centre of each dough ball. Fill each hollow with the onion and poppy seeds mixture. Brush the dough with olive oil and a sprinkling of flour (optional).
  8. Reduce the oven temperature to 210 degrees, or Gas Mark 6 and bake for about 10 minutes, turning the tray if need be, until the bialys are a light golden brown colour.
  9. Serve warm. These can be frozen, stored in a plastic bag or container and reheated.

Source: Slightly adapted from Marc Grossman’s ‘New York Cult Recipes’ and researched at


  1. What a delicious recreation of a New York classic, Jo! Can you get bialys at all in the UK? You’ve reminded me that it’s been ages since I’ve had a bialy! Now I want that *and* a warm sesame bagel all at once! : ) You did a great job here…I can almost smell it and taste it.

    • thecontentedbaker says:

      Thank you so much Monica! You certainly can’t get bialy around my ‘neck of the woods’ but maybe a specialist bakers in London? Yes, these flavours remind me of onion bagels from Eli’s (Zabar) which used to be around the corner from where I lived. Getting really nostalgic now…may have to plan a ‘foodie’ trip there!! 😉

      • Yes! Eli Zabar has some good stuff! I’ve had breakfast at one of his restaurants and remember it was really good, including the bread. But now that Eric Kayser opened shops in the city, I head there for bread and pastries if I’m there. No bialys though. : ) I hope you make a trip back to NYC soon.

  2. Oh wow, this looks ridiculously delicious! I mean any homemade bread is awesome and with that onion / poppy seed filling! I must make this … and try one the next time I visit my sister in NYC : )

    • thecontentedbaker says:

      Thanks Ashley. So great that you can visit your sister in NYC and sample all that glorious food!! 😉

      • thecontentedbaker says:

        PS Meant to say, Kossars in Lower Manhattan is the place to go for bialys, bagels etc 🙂

  3. These look so good Joanne! I´ve been to NYC twice but never tried one! Eastern Europe recipes are all so delicious when it comes to dough!Enjoy the weekend! 🙂

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