Many years ago in Eastern Poland, in the town of Bialystok the Jewish community developed a delicious bread called a bialystoker kuchen It is a chewy roll, with a filling of fried onions and poppy seeds. Smothered with good butter or cream cheese, it is a tasty treat. The dough is pretty much the same dough as used in making bagels, except it isn't boiled before baking and there is no hole in the center. Instead, the dough is formed into a ball and allowed to rise, then before baking, you make a deep depression in the center and fill it with a mixture of fried onions (and garlic too if you like) mixed with poppy seeds. Then you bake until just barely brown. They are usually eaten very fresh and slightly warm, although quite tasty cold, too! After my first one, I was addicted. If you like chewy breads and fried onions, you will be too.
For the onion filling:
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
4 tbsp. butter or vegetable oil
sprinkle of salt
4 tsp. poppy seeds (optional)
Heat the butter or oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat and then add the onions and salt. Saute until golden brown and tender. Add the garlic and continue to saute a few more minutes, until the garlic is very fragrant and starting to color. Remove from heat, stir in the poppy seeds ad set aside.
For the dough:
2 cups warm water
5 cups bread flour or all purpose flour with 1/4 cup of wheat gluten added
3 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar or honey or molasses (optional)
1 tsp. salt
Mix all together until well blended, you will want a fairly stiff dough, so you can add a bit more flour if needed. When well blended, knead until smooth and elastic. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled. Beat down and allow to rise for a further 30 minutes or so. Beat down again and then on a floured board, divide dough into 12 balls, rolling between your hands until well formed. Place on a greased and floured cookie sheet or on a sheet of parchment paper. Allow to rise again until almost, but now quite doubled. Using your fingers or a small glass (I used the bottom of a shot glass), make a deep depression in the center of each ball of risen dough. Even divide the fried onion and poppy seed mixture into the depressions. Bake in a preheated oven set at 425 degrees, for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned, do not over bake. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Then smother with butter and enjoy!
These are very tasty for breakfast or with a bowl of soup. Also make a great bedtime snack!
There is also no reason why you couldn't add other savory elements for the filling. For example, frying the onion and garlic in some bacon fat, then adding crumbled crisp bacon to the onion filling. Using some sort of cheese as a filling or in addition to the fried onions. Mashing feta cheese with chopped garlic and chopped parsley and beating in an egg yolk would be another good one. Use your imagination.
You could also use some whole grain flour for part of the white flour used in the recipe. I often make whole grain breads that only have the flours, water, salt and extra gluten. I have used this dough for making these and they were quite tasty. I'm sure a very sour rye dough would be perfect for these rolls.