As a displaced New Yorker, I am typically disappointed in the bagel offerings of the SF Bay Area. But, I have never been a bagel lover anyway. They are a little too heavy for me (though I will admit to enjoying the occasional bagel hot out of the oven at the store). When I do have bagels here, I usually only have half, and that has to be toasted, plied with some cream cheese and the smoked salmon fixings.
What I really miss is my memory of bialys. When I was little, I would sometimes go with my dad to his office and one of the treats that I remember I would get, perhaps at an old Chock Full O’ Nuts diner, was a toasted, buttered bialy. Part bagel, part English muffin, they tasted warm, comforting, chewy and, relative to their dense bagel bretheren, light. I’ve hunted for the bialy of my past in recent years, but I’ve come up short.
Yesterday, when S left for a business trip, I realized that we didn’t have any “good” breakfast foods in the house. No bagels, leftover french toast or pancakes in the freezer. I usually freeze leftover pancakes and french toast because they are such an easy microwave warm up on a weekday morning. J had an overnight at a friend’s house (she has vacation this week) and L had school. With S away and the girls out of the house, I figured I could sneak in some baking and try something new: bagels. Though, first I made some pancakes just to freeze.
I have been eyeing a recipe for bagels in my new favorite cookbook: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Most parents don’t think, oh, we are out of bagels, I think I’ll try making them. But I do. Nonetheless, my attempt at bagels was a flop. I am convinced that it was my fault because this cookbook is so good. I think my problem was in the boiling. Maybe I left the bagels in the water too long? Perhaps not long enough? There could be a multitude of reasons that they didn’t work out.
Nonetheless, I was left with a bunch of bagel dough and I didn’t want to try more bagels. The oven was on, the baking stone piping hot. I had to keep going. Then I eyed the Bialy recipe with anticipation. No boiling, looked easier. In fact, much easier. The only changes that I made to the recipe were that I made the indentation for the onion a little bit smaller (that is how I remember them) and I used less oil for frying the onions and cooked them a bit longer. They poofed beautifully in the oven.
OMG!!! These are the bialys of my strangely clear food memories. L informs me that the onion isn’t onion-y enough (she is a bialy lover, too), but it didn’t stop her from polishing off one of these bad-boys for breakfast. I left the cooked bialys out on a cooling rack overnight so they would harden up a bit, without getting overcooked.
Toasted with salted butter. An impromptu trip to the lower east side of Manhattan. Either that, or I’ve died and gone to heaven.