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Prep 45min (+ 3hr 15min proving time)Bake 14minMakes about 8

They get their name from where they originated in the city of Białystok in north-eastern Poland. They are best eaten the day they are baked (even better warm) and spread with cream cheese or butter. 


500ml (2 cups) lukewarm water
7g (1 sachet) instant dried yeast
2 teaspoons caster sugar
450g (3 cups) strong bread or pizza flour, plus extra to dust
340g (2¼ cups) plain flour
3 teaspoons fine salt
olive oil, to grease 

Onion and poppy seed topping
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium brown onion, finely diced
½ teaspoon fine salt
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

  1. Combine 60ml (¼ cup) of the lukewarm water with the yeast, sugar and 2 tablespoons of the bread flour in a small bowl and use a fork to whisk to combine. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 5 minutes or until the mixture is frothy.
  2. Combine the remaining bread flour, plain flour and salt in a large bowl. Combine the yeast mixture with the remaining water, add to the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon and then your hands to mix to a soft dough.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic and springs back when you push your finger into it (see Baker’s Tips).
  4. Brush a large bowl with olive oil to grease. Add the dough turning it to coat lightly with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draught-free place for 1½ hours or until doubled in size.
  5. When the dough has doubled in size knock it back by punching it in the centre with your fist. Recover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draught-free place for 60 minutes or until doubled in size again.
  6. Line 2 large oven trays with non-stick baking paper. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to bring the dough together. Divide the dough evenly into 8 equal portions and shape each into a ball. Use your hands to press, pinch and stretch a ball of dough into a disc about 12cm in diameter and 1cm thick. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough, placing them on the lined oven trays about 4cm apart. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes or until risen by about half their volume.
  7. Preheat the oven to 210°C (190°C fan-forced). Meanwhile, to make the onion and poppy seed topping, place the olive oil, onion and salt in a small frying pan over medium heat and cook for 8-10 minutes until the onion is soft and starts to become golden. Remove from the heat.
  8. Use lightly floured fingertips to make an indent in the centre of the dough discs, leaving a 2cm border around the outside. Spoon the onion mixture into the indents, dividing evenly, and then sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Cover with a slightly damp tea towel and set aside in a warm draught-free place for 15 minutes or until slightly puffed.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through (see Baker’s Tips). Serve warm or at room temperature, spread with cream cheese or butter.
Baker's Tips
  • You can also knead the bread dough in step 2 in an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead on lowest possible speed for 5-6 minutes or until smooth, elastic and the dough has come away from the sides of the bowl and the bowl is clean.
  • Over-baking the bialy will cause them to become dry, so make sure you remove them from the oven as soon as they are baked through.
  • These Bialy are best eaten the day they are made however they do freeze well. Seal in a freezer-proof plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and reheat by wrapping individually in foil and placing in an oven preheated to 160°C (140°C fan-forced) for 10 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm.


    This recipe is part of Anneka's SBS Food Bakeproof: Jewish Baking online column. For more Bakeproof columns and recipes, click here.

    Photography by Alan Benson.