Photo: Sang An
You have undoubtedly eaten your fair share of pretzels, but what about pletzels? The flatbreads, which typically come topped with caramelized onions and poppy seeds, were a favorite among Eastern European Jews. Once they arrived in the States, pletzels continued to be sold in Jewish bakeries (where they were called onion boards, likely referring to their flat shape), but have since largely fallen out of fashion. Consider this recipe my contribution to help revive a worthy Jewish food. I like to serve the savory flatbreads spread with Salmon-Dill Cream Cheese, Chopped Chicken Liver, or Vegetarian Chopped “Liver.”
NOTE: I bake this flatbread in an 11-by-15-in rimmed baking sheet, which yields a thin, crispy flatbread with a hint of fluffy chew at the center. If you want something closer to focaccia in texture and thickness, use a baking sheet with slightly smaller proportions (the bake time will be a bit longer). Do not use a larger baking sheet or the flatbread will be too thin.
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water (110°F)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 Tbsp
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 tsp onion powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1. Stir together the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a medium bowl. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour and 1 tsp of the salt in a large bowl. Add the 1/4 cup/60 ml vegetable oil to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mixture. Gently stir with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to form, then turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead well, adding more flour, a little at a time, as necessary, until a smooth, supple dough forms, about 10 minutes. Rub 1 tsp oil around the bottom of a large bowl, add the dough, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let stand in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.
3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large pan set over medium heat. Add the onions, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover and stir in the remaining 3/4 tsp salt and the onion powder. Cook, stirring often, until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
4. Brush an 11-by-15-in rimmed baking sheet with 1 tsp oil. Gently deflate the dough with the heel of your hand. Remove the dough from the bowl and press it into the prepared baking sheet with your hands until it touches the edges on all sides. Using your fingertips, gently press indentations into the dough, all over the surface. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap or a dish towel and let rest until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes. Fifteen minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425°F
5. Uncover the flatbread and use a fork to prick several small holes over the top (to prevent air bubbles from forming while it bakes). Brush one coat of the beaten egg all over the top of the dough (you will not use all of it). Top with an even layer of cooked onions and sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Bake the flatbread until golden and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly, then cut into squares or rectangles. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Reheat leftovers in the oven or a toaster oven.
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