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Polish Onion Rolls {Cebulaki; Cebularze}

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Polish Onion Rolls {Cebulaki; Cebularze}

Cebulaki [tseh-boo-lah-kee] or cebularze [tseh-boo-lah-rge] are soft yeast rolls, covered in sautéed onions mixed with spices and poppy-seeds, baked until golden brown. They are further proof of Polish creativity in using simple ingredients to make something exceptional.  Frugal doesn’t have to mean boring, as a matter of fact, quite the opposite. A few ingredients that you most likely already have in your pantry can be turned into a delicious new meal.

I first saw these savory rolls being made when I was visiting my grandmother’s side of the family in the central region of Poland. Grandma came from a small farming village outside the city of Łódź, where the main agricultural products were potatoes, cabbage, beets and onions. Family referred to them as cebulaki but they are also known as and famous by the name cebularze. They come from the city of Lublin in the east south part of Poland and they come form Jewish cooking. Recipes go back to pre World War I era.

We spent most of our summers there as kids, helping with some of the farm chores, but mainly just playing in the orchard, picking cherries of and scaring the chickens. This multi-generational household knew how to make sure their crops are utilized to last through the year, until the next season’s harvest.

All ingredients for this dish were plentiful, but were always prized, respected, and treated as if the future of a full pantry was never guaranteed… which was true for many Polish households that depended on an unpredictable harvest. Cebulaki was a great, portable food that could be grabbed in between chores without stopping. Prepared ahead of time, they would wait under a cover of a kitchen towel, to disappear in minutes when hunger struck.

I could eat at least 3 straight out of the oven, if there was no one to share with.

Polish Onion Rolls {Cebulaki; cebularze}

  • Yields: 8 rolls
  • Prep Time: 1-2 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp / 110 g of butter
  • 1 c / 225 ml warm milk
  • 2 ½ c / 450 g of all-purpose flour (+ ½ c for blooming yeast)
  • 1 tbsp of dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 eggs yolks (+ 1 egg white)
  • 1 tsp of oil
  • TOPPING:
  • 2 ½ c of sliced onion
  • 2 tbsp / 30 g of butter
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ¼ tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ tbsp of poppyseeds

Instructions

  1. Melt butter, set aside to cool.

  2. Place warm milk and ½ cup of flour in a mixing bowl, add yeast and sugar. Mix well and let yeast bloom until bubbles appear (about 10-15 minutes).

  3. In a mixing bowl, place the rest of the flour, add bloomed yeast mixture and, with the hook attachment of a stand mixer, start mixing. Add butter, salt, and egg yolks and continue mixing until combined. Keep kneading for another 10 minutes. If not using a mixer, place your ingredients in a large bowl and work with your hands to form a dough ball. Transfer onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until dough is smooth.

  4. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and let rest and rise for 1-2 hours (or until the dough doubles in size).

  5. Line a 9 x 11 inch / 23 x 28 centimeter baking pan with parchment paper.

  6. Remove dough from bowl and place on floured surface. Fold 3-4 times and create an even log. Cut log into 8 relatively even pieces. From each piece, form a ball and place on parchment paper. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.

  7. In the meantime, cut the onion in half and into slices. In a medium pan, heat butter, add onion, salt, pepper and sauté until translucent. Once cooked, turn off, add poppyseeds and stir to combine.

  8. Preheat oven to 395°F / 200°C.

  9. After rolls have been resting for about 30 minutes, flatten them lightly with your fingers. Whisk 1 egg white and brush over rolls, then cover evenly with sautéed onions.

  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before moving onto a cooling rack.

  11. Serve warm or cold.

Enjoy for breakfast, lunch or a snack.

Happy cooking and smacznego!

Anna

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