Dough Business

Thanks to one man, baked bialys, a cousin to the bagel, are gaining a following


Published:

For nearly half a century, Brooklyn-born Richard Steinik has been known simply as “the bialy man.”

If you don’t know what bialys are, think of bagels, then think again. Yes, bialys are round and chewy like their better-known cousin, but they’re lighter and fluffier (think English muffins), and without holes. Instead, they have wells in their centers that are crammed with chopped onions. And they’re baked, not boiled like bagels.

And, unlike bagels, bialys have only five ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt, and onions — no sugar, malt, or fat.

Steinik’s story begins humbly. He started out in 1960, driving a Bronx Bialy delivery truck in New York. A year later, he progressed to bialy baker, then rose to become the top guy at New York’s Bialy Union by 1964. (At that time, bialys and bagels didn’t mix; their unions were separate.) To make a long story short, when Sam Ambender, the original owner of the Detroit Bagel Factory, wooed Steinik to Detroit in 1967 to make bialys, a Detroit tradition was born.

Steinik later bought the company and, today, the Detroit Bagel Factory in West Bloomfield Township and Livonia is the only authentic bialy bakery in town. There are bialy wannabes, but only Steinik himself makes 27 dozen of the genuine article daily.

The dough is prepared in a giant mixer, pressed into balls in a century-old press, and hand-formed into its distinctive disc shape. Steinik then chops pounds of onions and hand-fills each bialy before they’re blast-baked at 500 degrees and ready to sell by 6 a.m. weekdays, when the doors open.

More information: detroitbagelfactory.com.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Web Exclusive: Meeting the Beatles

Fifty years ago, a Detroit-area teenager won a contest to meet The Beatles.

Rocking in Style

John Varvatos and Alice Cooper talk about their musical and fashion influences — and Detroit’s comeback

Well-Versed in Classics

DSO oboe player tools around town in a rare pair of turquoise 1962 Lincoln Continentals

All Dressed Up & Ready ...

Cobo Center is still a work in progress, but Auto Show visitors will notice a host of improvements

One Night Only: Steven Spielberg and John Williams at the DSO

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Makings of the Shinola Hotel
    When the Detroit brand’s first foray into hospitality opens its doors, it’ll offer customers...
  2. My Two Christmases
    An Armenian-Iranian, Detroit-based writer reflects on transposing the holiday across continents
  3. New Year’s Eve, Brooklyn Style
    Tips for celebrating 2019 from the pros at Brooklyn Outdoor
  4. Main Review: SheWolf
    Born in Detroit but inspired by Rome, SheWolf takes diners on a culinary journey
  5. The Art of Gifting
    Metro Detroit tastemakers from all walks of life offer a glimpse of what’s on their holiday...
  6. Comeback Catering
    Dish, in Detroit, pushes through hard times with consistently delicious food
  7. Meet the Makers: Tait Design Co.
    How an after-work hobby ascended to a booming business
  8. Precious Metals
    Layering necklaces, stacking rings, and placing bangle upon glitzy bangle: a definitive guide to...
  9. Food Recipe: Braised Beef Brisket
    Chef Aaron Lowen, of Empire Kitchen & Cocktails, shares one of his favorite holiday recipes
  10. An Hour with ... Ricki Friedman
    Founder, Break the Weight