Bialy Buns - Savory Pastry

Bialy Buns

By Carmel Karni    —   See the recipe

Bialy Buns

I always loved savory treats. I honestly think they don’t get the love they deserve. Bialys, those little flat buns with an onion and poppy seed filling are a super old school treat and a staple of my childhood. I loved them back then, especially fresh from a bakery. But in recent years I found the typical bialy to be a little dry and tough, with a skimpy amount of onion filling. So I thought to myself, why not roll this delicious filling into challah dough buns? It's a perfect combination- sweet soft dough with that savory, unctuous onion filling that runs all the way through the bun. I use Joan Nathan’s Challah dough recipe. The recipe is very easy, but it does take a while for the dough to rise. You can start it the night before and finish the next day. It only improves the flavor. I half JN’s recipe here but you can easily double it (and the filling) for more buns.

Joan Nathan’s Challah Dough


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp + ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil + more for oiling bowl
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 3- 4 cups flour (see note)
Note: Start with three cups and see how it goes. It’s always easier to add more flour than liquid. Once kneaded, the dough should release from the sides of the bowl, be soft and supple, but not stick to your finger when you press it.

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 Tbs poppy seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

Dissolve yeast in warm water + 1 tsp sugar in a stand mixer bowl with a dough hook (or a large bowl). Let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. Add oil, mix, add eggs, mix, add the rest of the sugar and salt. Add flour and knead the dough, either in the stand mixer or by hand. About 5 minutes in the mixer or about 10 minutes by hand.

Place your dough ball in a large bowl and drizzle a little olive oil on it. Use your hands to make sure the dough is covered with oil (this will help the dough not dry while rising). Cover with a wet flat towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, until almost doubled. (if you want to refrigerate the dough, do it after the first rising) Punch dough down, cover again and let rise again for another half an hour. (If you’ve refrigerated the dough, this stage will take longer)

In the meantime, make your filling- dice the onion finely, heat a pan on medium heat, add the olive oil then the onion. Saute for a couple of minutes until the onion is translucent with only the faintest bit of golden caramelization. Add the poppy seeds and salt and let cool.

Roll your risen dough into a roughly 10”x15” sized rectangle, sprinkle your onion mixture evenly and roll the rectangle from the wider side into a jelly roll shape. Cut into 1.5 inch wide slices. About 12 pieces. You can use dental floss (not a flavored one!) or a sharp knife.

Place your slices about 2 inches apart on a parchment covered baking sheet and let the rolls rise again for another hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 375

Brush the rolls with a beaten egg.

Bake the rolls for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. 

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