In her 2002 book, The Bialy Eaters, Mimi Sheraton mourned the end of the bialy tradition in the U.S., claiming good bialys were nowhere to be found, even at the legendary Kossar's of New York. That book prompted a bialy investigation on our part, the results published here. Since that time last summer, we have produced bialys on and off, and very respectable bialys can now be found on intermittent basis at Loaf and Chicken Bridge Bakery, as well as at well-regarded Nouveau Jewish eateries across America (cf. Mile End Deli, Wise and Sons). This weekend, we will be making our bialys again, and adding a new stuffed bialy to add to the traditional poppyseed and onion variety: the shakshuka bialy!
A review for all neophytes who might not appreciate why bialys are so beloved:
1. Bialys do not get a full proofing rise prior to going in the oven, resulting in a density and intensity of yeasty flavor greater than that of a bagel or roll.
2. Bialys should be very thin in the middle, giving a textural contrast analogous to the difference between the crust and interior of a good Neapolitan pizza.
3. Oven-roasted onions bring out the sweet flavors of the bialy and make the treat more savory.