It’s a Small World….
I have a very distinct memory of being in one of the Jewish bakeries on Harvard Street in Brookline. My father spotted a stack of something on the counter and said “Tzibbile pletzle!” in the sort of voice one reserves for a treat from deep childhood.
Tsibbile pletzle/onion board is sort of the Eastern European corollary to Pita Za’atar and is a cousin to pizza. An egg enriched dough is stretched out into a rectangle and is topped with onions, black pepper and poppy seeds.
I think it may be a challah baking mom’s answer to what to feed her children for Friday lunch. It’s a case where simple ingredients combine to create something that is more delicious than it ought to be.
My understanding about how to make this was refined, I believe by Joan Nathan. My husband bought be a big stack of cookbooks for my birthday. I am ashamed to say that I’m too lazy to look this up. But here is the basic way to make this.
Warm about 2 cups of water in a microwave for a minute
Add 1 tsp yeast to the water ( which ought to be in a big bowl). Add a tablespoon of flour to the water to feed the yeast. I also added about two teaspoons ( actually it was a random lump) of brown sugar to the mixture. Go away for about ten minutes. Check your email or put away the clean dishes in the dish washer.
Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the bowl. Add a glugg of olive oil , and two eggs. Mix with a big spoon until the egg fairly evenly mixed in the bowl. Start adding flour by the cupful, mixing well after each addition. When the mixture gets thick switch to mixing/kneading with your hand. you can do all of the kneading in the bowl or you can switch to kneading on your counter. This will be a soft dough. Knead for several minutes to help develop the gluten in the flour and then cover with a towel and go away for at least an hour and up to four hours or put the dough in the fridge ( covered with the towel) if you won’t be ready to bake until tomorrow.
Punch dough down and add more flour if it is sticky. sprinkle some flour on a tea towel ( that is a flat woven dishtowel, not terry cloth)
Roll a fist sized lump of dough into a rectangle.Mine were about 10 inches x 6 inches . The size will be determined by your baking sheet.Place on baking sheet prepared with parchment paper. Fill your baking sheet with rectangles of dough. Do not worry about perfection . I guess if you ask me about how thick those rectangles need to be.. I would say about the thickness of commercial pita.
Adding flavor- Paint each rectangle with water. Then sprinkle with dried onions ( you could if you had time sauté onions but the dry onions are even better than fine here) black pepper and poppy seeds. Clearly you can vary the flavors and add spice combinations that make your heart sing.
After you are done rolling and decorating all of your tzibbile pletzles, pre heat your oven to 385. The onion boards need another short rise before baking.
When your oven reaches the proper heat, bake until golden brown.
Your house will smell incredible. The pletzel are delicious unadorned but are incredible with cheese in any form. If you are feeling sophisticated top with goat cheese, even supermarket shredded cheese is great on a tzibblele pletzel
This was my lunch today.