So, how many of you actually know what a pletzel is? Yup, that’s what we thought—not too many of you. These amazing creations are made from challah dough and then layered with an onion-poppy seed mixture. The lightness of the dough paired with the sweet, caramelized onion filling is completely irresistible. I mean, seriously, half of the batch was gone before they had been out of the oven for an hour.
This recipe for onion pletzels is one that has been passed down from our grandfather’s side of the family. Around 4 A.M. Friday morning, before the Sabbath, our great great grandma Bessie would wake up to make these heavenly treats (and a lot of other food as well). With their pillowy, sweet dough, and flaky layers, pletzels won over our grandfather’s heart and stomach, and eventually our own. Grandma Bessie originally made pletzels with only one layer of onions, but our grandfather made a special request to pile on even more layers of that oniony goodness. Thus, the three layered pletzel was born.
The two of us can remember many days with our grandmother filled with the kneading of dough, folding the onion-poppy mixture inside, and cracking open steaming pletzels to be eaten. It had been quite a while since we had made pletzels, and when we decided to make them, it struck us to put this amazing recipe on the blog. We hope that all of you enjoy our family’s pletzels as much as we do, and when you bite into their steaming interiors you can think of all the family history that has gone into that one little pocket of onion and bread.
Ingredients: (Makes 24 pletzels)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast
- 1 cup of water heated to 110°F/43°C
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil (or another neutral oil, like canola)
- 1 1/4 cups of warm water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 8 cups flour
The onion-poppy mixture
- 3-4 large onions
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons water
To make the dough:
In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and yeast in the water warmed to 110°F/43°C. Let stand for ten minutes until the yeast bubbles and becomes foamy. Beat in the eggs, oil, warm water, salt and sugar until well combined. Add six cups of the flour one cup at a time, mixing well between each cup. Then add the remaining two cups and mix by hand until the dough is not too sticky and doesn’t stick much to the side of the bowl.
Turn the dough onto a well floured surface and let it sit for ten minutes. Then knead it for about ten minutes, adding flour as needed. Grease a large bowl, place the dough inside, and cover with a damp cloth. Let it rise in a warm area for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
To make the onion-poppy mixture:
Evenly chop the onions into 1/2 inch pieces. Heat a large pan with a thin layer of oil in the bottom (about a quarter of an inch) over medium-low heat. Add the onions until light golden brown and soft. Remove any excess oil. Add the poppy seeds and mix well. Let cool.
To assemble the pletzels:
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Using a knife, divide the dough into 24 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball by tucking under the edges. Let them rest for about ten minutes. After they rest, preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C and grease a pan.
Roll each ball into a 6-7 inch diameter circle. Put a spoonful of the onion-poppy mixture on one side and fold it in half. Place a smaller spoonful on one side and fold in half again. Make sure that there is some of the onion mixture left over for later.
Place the pletzels onto the prepared pan. When they are all on the pan, mix the egg yolk and water to make an egg wash. Brush the pletzels with the egg wash and then top each with a small amount of the remaining onions. Let them rise for about ten minutes.
Bake for 16-20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!