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YIELD 14 (3-1/2" diameter) bialys

1 cup warm water (about 85 degrees F)
1 cup sourdough starter
1 teaspoon salt (what you normally use)
1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
3-1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup chopped onions
Bran for dusting

Stir starter into the warm water. You can use the starter straight
from the fridge. (Replenish your starter.)

Stir in 1 teaspoon of ordinary salt, not the coarse kind. Incorporate
about 3 cups of the flour by stirring vigorously. When the mixture
comes away from the sides of the bowl, turn it out on your work
surface, heavily dusted with about 1/2 cup of flour, and knead for
about 5 minutes until the dough becomes loamy and satiny.

Place the dough in a clean, dry, unoiled bowl, large enough to
allow the dough to double in bulk. Cover the bowl and set it in
a warm place, about 80 degrees, for approximately 4 hours. If your
starter is robust, with lots of vim and vigor, and if the temperature
is about right, it should double in the allotted time. However
there are so many interesting variables in breadbaking it could
take 6 hours or just 3 hours for the dough to double in bulk.

When the dough is ready, turn it out on a floured work surface.
Tumble the dough around for a couple of moments in the flour, let
it rest briefly, and then roll it out with a rolling pin to a
uniform thickness of about 1/2".

Cut out the bialys. I use an empty 3 -1/2" diameter juice can to
punch out the bialys by bearing down firmly. Sprinkle bran on 2
standard-sized cookie sheets (insulated sheets are okay, but not
necessary here), and place the bialys on the sheets. Cover with
cloths and set in a warm place about 80\xb0F to rest and rise for
30 minutes. While you're waiting, chop the onions and get out the
coarse salt and the poppy seeds.

Preheat the oven to 400F. In the top center of each bialy deposit
a pinch of chopped onions, some poppy seeds and a tiny bit of coarse
salt. With your fist, mush these ingredients into each bialy.
Don't be afraid to mush down hard.

Mist bialys with water. Slide the cookie sheets onto a rack in
the middle of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. During the first
l0 minutes of the bake, mist the bialys 2 or 3 more times with the
sprayer. Just reach into the oven, mist them, and quickly close
the door.

Ideally the centers should still be flattened when the bialys emerge
from the oven, but this will not always be the case. Don't worry,
they'll still be delicious even if they rise like rolls.

The bialys are done when they turn golden in color.


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