The history itself behind the bun is something comparable to very few things I’ve seen. Although I pride myself in the somewhat forgotten tradition of making sourdough these little yeasted buns have a powerfu story. Although I’ve never actually had one before I’ve seen them in just about every bread book I own. Then recently I came across The Bialy Eaters by Mimi Sheraton and reading the reviews and description I just had to gives these a go. Although obviously I can not compare mine to anything I’ve had, I do believe I’ve made a beautiful little onion bun. I looked all over and compared old style recipes and reviews of these recipes with what the modern spin of the traditional recipe has become. I came up with what I think is an accurate variation(I mean it is a “variation” after all). From what I saw a traditional bun is actually soft and much less chewy than a bagel, these being oven baked without being boiled first helps limit the chew but I also opted to use a butter enriched dough that was delicate and wonderfully flavorful. For fillings I made one with traditional onion filling with poppyseeds and one bun with pizza sauce and Gruyere cheese. My onion filling I was somewhat hesitant to not saute my onions first but it seemed like it was most traditional way to go, the onions tasted a little too raw for my liking and for some reason or another they turned pink. I will definitely alter the onion filling the next time around but the dough was absolutely stunning and the pizza bialy’s I could not get enough of them, they were amazing!
Butter enriched Sourdough Recipe:
This dough is what I use for strudels and breakfast breads such as cinnamon rolls, its also what I often use for dinner rolls and sandwich buns. If you do not have a sourdough starter you can use this same recipe but without the starter. (You may have to add a bit more flour as needed.) If you desire a somewhat sour flavor you can substitute room temperature buttermilk. This general rule applies to any sourdough recipe.
1 tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup warm water (up to 110 degrees)
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup instant potato flakes
2 cups all purpose un-bleached flour
2 teaspoons salt (sea salt or kosher)
In a large bowl combine yeast, sugar, butter, water and sourdough starter. (feed your starter afterwards and allow it to rest before storing it again) Allow this mixture to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Combine potato flakes, flour and salt. Add the flour only as you need it. You’ll want a smooth mixture. Place this mixture on a lightly floured surface you may have to use up to 1/2 cup of additional flour while kneading. Knead about 10 minutes or until the ball is smooth and springs back to the touch. Place in a lightly sprayed or oiled bowl or air tight container with a vent. Place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 4 or so days.
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
Remove the rested dough from the refrigerator and remove about 1 1/2 pounds of dough. Portion the dough into 8 three ounce balls. To shape into bialy’s you will flatten each ball into a circle thats about 4-6 inches in diameter. Using your fingers make an indentation into the center of the dough forming an outer “wall” an a well in the center. Using a fork prick the “well” numerous times, this will avoid air bubbles and it will help your filling cook properly. Place each formed bialy on a cookie sheet thats been sprinkled with corn meal or semolina. Fill with desired fillings and bake on the top rack 7-9 minutes, switch the pan to the bottom rack and bake an additional 7-9 minutes. They shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes total, you want them to be soft and somewhat chewy, over baking them they will dry out too much.
1 small onion
1-2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
*pinch of salt (sea salt or kosher)
Saute’ onions in the butter or oil with garlic powder and salt, just slightly cook them until onions have started to soften. Add the poppy seeds last. Traditional recipes call for either re-hydrated dried onion flakes or raw onion, however I found the raw onion to be a little over powering. If your using re-hydrated onion you’ll want to pour boiling water over top the dried onion flakes, drain them reserving the liquid and use this liquid in your dough.
Pizza Filling: (per bun)
2 teaspoons pizza sauce
1-2 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese