Life, Death and Bialys

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When Dylan Schaffer’s dying father wanted to atone for mistakes that produced disastrous consequences in his family’s life, he made a wish to take a seven-month long baking course with his son.  They made bread and they made amends.

Dylan’s book is Life, Death, and Bialys: A Father/son Baking Story.

Bialys- from Dylan Schaffer of Life, Death and Bialys
For the bread:
2 cups warm (105-115 degree) water
1 package yeast
2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 cups bread flour
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

For the topping:
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1/3 cup minced onion
1/2 tsp salt

Directions: In a mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm water, yeast, & sugar and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Mix remaining (1 1/2 cups) water, salt, bread flour, and all purpose flour into yeast mixture.

Knead by hand or in mixer until smooth. You’ll end up with a relatively soft dough. Place dough ball in a greased bowl, and turn it over so it’s greased side faces up. Cover in plastic and let rise until tripled in bulk.

Punch dough down, turn it over, cover and let rise until doubled. Punch dough down, cut in half, and roll each half into a cylinder. Cut each into 8 rounds. Lay them flat, cover with a towel and let rest. Prepare topping by mixing all topping ingredients. Set aside. Pat dough into flattened rounds (a little higher in middle) about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.

Place on lightly floured work area, cover with a damp towel and let rise until increased by about half in bulk. This should take about 30 minutes. Press the bottom of small glass in center of each bialy, to make a deep indentation. Let rise another 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put bialy's on ungreased baking sheets. Bake on upper and lower shelves of the oven for 6 to 7 minutes, then switch the pans and reverse positions of pans (both up and down and front to back) until bialys are evenly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Cool on racks.

Cut a bialy down the middle and spread the halves with enormous quantities of both cream cheese and butter. Anyway, that’s the way my dad liked his bialys.