Bronx Bagel Bakeries in the 60’s always sold bialys along with their movie star sibling, the bagel. For the customer, the bialy was usually an afterthought.

“Give me a dozen mixed bagels. And, eh, throw in a couple of bialys.”

The bakery on Jerome Avenue was called the “bagel store.” Not “bialy store.”

And yet, bialys are truly special. With their onions in the middle, they’re a true mechaya.

Here’s how to make them.


This amount of dough, 720 grams or about 1.5 pounds, will make about eight bialys.

Ingredient Amount Baker’s % Volume
Water 257 grams 58% 1 Cup + 1 tblspn
Salt 9 grams 2 % 1 1/2 tsp
Sugar * 9 grams 2 % 2 tsp
Flour ** 443 grams 100 % 3 1/2 Cups
Yeast 2.5 grams 1 % 1 tsp

* The old time Bronx bakeries used diastatic malt rather than sugar. The diastatic malt helped with the browning and rise. You can use sugar in its place or leave it out all together.

** Bread flour or all-purpose flour can be used. Bread flour has a higher protein level which means more gluten which means it can stretch more. It’ll also make a more chewy bialy. I use all-purpose flour because I bake a lot and don’t want two twenty-five bags of flour sitting around.

In case you think I made a mistake in the recipe, there is NO oil in traditional bialy dough.

Weigh the ingredients. The volume amounts will put you in the ball park, but you might wind up in the seat behind the pillar at Yankee Stadium. Not a good place to be.

Steps To Make Dough

Put the water, salt, and sugar in a bowl.

Stir to dissolve.

Add the flour. And let the flour sit in the water for about thirty minutes.

Then add the yeast.

With a fork, mix the flour with the water mixture until it comes together.

Knead for a few minutes.

First Rise

Put in oiled bowl that is covered until the dough is risen (I hate that expression “doubled in size”). It’ll take about 1 - 2 hours.

Second Rise

Divide the dough into eight balls.

Spread the dough balls on a 1/2 sheet that is lined with parchment paper.

Cover with plastic wrap.

Make The Filling

Chop 1/2 a yellow onion.

Place the chopped onion a small cup.

Add oil to onions to coat them. You don’t want them swimming in a pool. This ain’t a country club.


After the dough balls have risen (about 45 minutes), you need to shape them.

You want to create a very thin skin in the center of the bialy.

I do this by pulling the edges.

Add the onions to the center of the bialys


Bake at about 400F (205C) for about seven minutes.

Rotate the tray and bake for another five minutes or so, until the bialys are lightly browned.


Thought Process Behind Recipe

I doubt anyone is actually wondering how I came up with this recipe but the thought process might be interesting to someone besides me.

My process to create recipes uses baker’s percentages.

Flour is always at 100% and all ingredients are adjusted as a percentage of the flour.

A good beginning spot for a bagel is at 58% water and that’s what I used.

Salt is usually 2% in bread.

Sugar for browning at 2% is a standard amount.

For fast rising, 1% yeast is standard. When I bake bialys, I will usually adjust the yeast to 1/2% or 1/4%. A longer fermentation gives you more control over the baking process. But when I’m in rush, 1% is the go to amount.

For history of this family, visit