I almost forgot…

…that another key difference between bialys and bagels is in the way you eat them. You don’t slice a bialy cross-wise like you do a bagel. Rather you just eat them whole, preferably fresh and warm and with a schmear of butter or cream cheese over the top. If they’re small you can gobble them down in a couple of bites. The smaller versions are only about 3 inches across. Most commonly they’re about six inches across, but I’m told that the original Polish bialys could be up to 9 inches across. And they weren’t just for breakfast in Poland a hundred years ago, oh my no. Back then you ate them with any meal of the day.

4 thoughts on “I almost forgot…”

  1. Thanks for exploring bialys. My husband and I lived near a Jewish bakery in L.A. for many years and their bialys were about 8 inches across, filled with carmelized onions and sprinkled with poppy seeds. Available on weekends only. They were very thin in the middle, occasionally there were little tears, and puffy at the edges. A little greasy, too. YUM! I could never understand why anyone would pick a bagel when they could have a bialy.

    On a different note – I am avidly watching The Great British Bake Off on PBS. What the heck is hot water pastry and why would one want to use it? Did you see the episode where they had to make a three tiered pie? Dang! Can you eat something like that without some anti-acids?

    1. Here’s another shout out for The Great British Bake Off! My daughter turned me on to it and now she and I and my 4yo grandson watch it together on Sunday nights.

      I love to see what they’re doing. I love the loopy quality of the judging. I love the cozy cottage decor of the tent. And I love how jolly everyone is about winning or losing. Don’t they have any idea of what stress means in the UK?!

      I thought Joe had done something with hot water pastry but I can’t find it now. Here’s a link to a recipe: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipe/raised-pork-pie

      It’s a very sturdy pastry that can be molded by hand and will keep it’s shape. I think it was an early version of what we think of as pie crust now. Possibly a variant of the trenchers they baked to use as plates. And I think it’s what was referred to in the nursery rhyme that says, “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”.

      1. A Joe reader won that about a year ago, Rainey. I was so proud I almost burst a button!

        A very , very fun show.

        – Joe

    2. Hey Melinda!

      I notice that Rainey sent you some links on this already. How water pastry is specifically for British-style savory pies. The advantage it has over American pie crust pastry is that it’s much stronger and can stand up on its own. It’s also much more uniform in its structure so it won’t spring holes and let meat juices out. I have a recipe for it right here:


      I use it to make, not surprisingly, British pork pies!


      Let me know if you have any other questions about it. It’s much tougher than American pie crust but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when the crust doubles as the packaging. It’s all in the aesthetic!


      – Joe

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