Bublik (pronounced boob-lick), or Bubliki for the plural, is the Ukrainian version of a bagel. In fact, there’s very little difference in my opinion between the two. They are both yeasted bread rings that are boiled before baking, and commonly topped with sesame or poppy seeds. Although I am yet to see an ‘everything’ bublik here in Ukraine.
Traditionally these bread rings are eaten as is, or with some jam or honey. In a sense they are kind of like a sweet treat with tea, and not considered a breakfast food. However this doesn’t stop me from splitting on in half, putting a schmear of cream cheese on each side, and loading it up with lox and onion and capers. It’s probably one of my favorite bread snacks alongside grenki.
History Of The Bublik
The history of the bublik begins with the history of the bagel. The latter can trace its origin to the Ashkenazi Jews of Krakow. As the Jews traveled all over Eastern Europe they brought along their culture and cuisine. In Ukraine they named the famous bagel, Bublik (бублик), from the root word Bubl (literally bubble), due to its shape.
Today in Ukraine people will refer to any bread ring as bublik, however their are actually technical distinctions. A Bublik should be large, round, and chewy, whereas sushki are smaller and dry like a cracker. In the middle are baranki which are more popular in Russia and Belarus (where they originated) and are in between the size and dryness of a bublik and a sushka.
Is A Bublik A Bagel?
Yes. I would consider a Ukrainian Bublik a bagel, although it may upset some New Yorkers. If the classical definition of a bagel is a yeasted ring of dough that is boiled before baking then a bublik hits those points. The serving however is completely different, as people will just munch on the Ukrainian version as is, or even dip it into their afternoon tea.
How To Make Bubliki
- 500 grams Flour. You can use bread flour if you have it, otherwise AP works fine.
- 250 ml Milk
- 65 grams Butter, melted
- 1 Egg
- 2.5 tbsp Sugar
- 1.5 tsp Yeast, active dry.
- 1 tbsp Water
- 1 tsp Salt
- Poppy Seeds or Sesame Seeds (optional)
Heat the milk in a saucepan until warm. Then let it cool down to slightly warmer than room temperature. This is important because the yeast won’t activate in the cold milk fast enough, and the yeast will die if it is too hot. I’d say 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) is good (like a not too hot jacuzzi).
In the warm milk add the sugar and yeast and whisk everything together. Wait 10-15 minutes for the yeast to get to work and the mixture to get frothy. Then add just the egg white and melted butter and whisk together. Set the egg yolk aside, we will use it later.
Add the yeasted milk to the flour and sprinkle in the salt. Start to knead with a wooden spoon first to incorporate the dry and wet ingredients. If the dough is super sticky add some more flour. Then flour a surface and your hands and knead the dough for 10 minutes, or until the dough is springy and tight.
Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Place in a warm place (like a windowsill) and let rise for an hour and a half. The bublik dough should more than double in size.
Once the dough has risen punch it down with your fist and knead again for another five minutes. This second knead will give the final bublik a light but chewy texture.
Squeeze off a ball of dough and punch a hole right in the middle with your finger. I use the same dough ball making method as I use when I make Pampushky (Ukrainian Garlic Bread) since it creates a smoother surface. Just pinch off a ball using your thumb and forefinger and let the rest of the dough fall away.
Place the rings on a greased parchment lined baking sheet (you can also use a silicone mat for convenience). Cover the entire sheet with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 20 minutes. Don’t worry if they don’t look super pretty or smooth, they will look better after baking.
After the rise they should more than double in size. If they have not risen at least by 50% let them rest in a warm place for another 10 minutes. Otherwise start a pot of boiling water.
Boil the bublik for one minute (30 seconds per side) and then place back on the greased parchment lined baking tray. Try to keep them separate so the bublik don’t bake into each other in the oven.
Take the reserved egg yolk and mix it with the tablespoon of water. Brush the egg over the bubliki and generously sprinkle poppy seeds all over. And by that I mean even more than what you see in the picture above.
Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before prying them off the parchment paper. Enjoy your freshly baked bublik!
Bublik Cooking Notes
- The flour amount is likely to be too little, so don’t hesitate to throw some more in there as you knead. If it feels at all sticky, just add more. It really depends on how absorbent your brand of flour is.
- If you use parchment paper you have to grease it, either with butter or oil. Otherwise the bubliki will bake into the parchment and will be impossible to remove.
- The egg wash is a main difference between bubliki and bagels. If you want to make a proper bagel, just reduce the sugar by half and forego the egg wash.
- You can add other ingredients to the dough such as raisins, seeds/nuts, or spices and herbs. It may not be traditional, but making a cinnamon raisin bublik is one of my favorite alterations.
- Baking Tray
- Mixing Bowl or Stand Mixer
- 500 grams Flour You can use bread flour if you have it otherwise AP works fine.
- 250 ml Milk
- 65 grams Butter melted
- 1 large Egg
- 2.5 tbsp Sugar
- 1.5 tsp Yeast active dry.
- 1 tbsp Water
- 1 tsp Salt
- Poppy Seeds or Sesame Seeds optional
- Warm up the milk in a pan and then let it cool to around 38 Celsius 100 Fahrenheit. When warm but not too hot add in the sugar and whisk it in. Then add the yeast and whisk that a bit and let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes or until foamy.
- Crack the egg and allow the egg white to go into the milk mixture. Whisk it in completely. Save the yolk for later use.
- In another bowl add the flour and salt and then mix in the yeasted milk mixture. Knead the mixture for 10 minutes, or until you have a tight non-sticky dough. You can absolutely add more flour at this point. Yyou will need to flour your work surface and hands as well as the dough every once in a while to stop it being sticky.
- Place the dough ball in a bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm place like a windowsill facing the sun, or in an oven turned off but with the light on. Let rise for 1.5 hours.
- After rising punch down the dough and knead again for another 5 minutes. Then break the dough into 10 balls.
- Set a baking tray out and lightly oil it so the dough doesn't stick. Use your finger to poke a hole through the dough balls and stretch them out to form a ring. Place the dough rings on the baking tray and cover with the kitchen towel. Let rise for another 20 minutes.
- Set a pot of boiling water. When you have a rolling boil drop in the dough rings one or two at a time. Boil for 1 minute, around 30 seconds per side. Place back on the baking tray.
- Mix the yolk with a tablespoon of water and then give all the dough rings an egg wash by brushing the tops with the egg and water mixture. I use a pastry brush, but you can use your fingers if you do not have a brush. Then sprinkle generously with poppy seeds or sesame seeds (or leave plain if you like).
- Put the tray into an oven preheated to 220 Celsius (430 Fahrenheit) and bake for 20 minutes, or until the surface is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before eating. Enjoy!