Ari's Picks

New Yorker Onion Rolls from the Bakehouse

New Yorker Onion rolls from Zingerman's Bakehouse.

A Special Onion Rolls Bake for July 1st through 4th

Back in the early months of 1982, Paul and I drove all over the Detroit area together, going from one bakery to another, to try rye bread. The one we settled on, for whatever reasons of fate and good fortune, was the only one that would not deliver to Ann Arbor! We bought from them for 10 years until, in September of 1992, we opened the Bakehouse.

One of the positive side notes we’d never previously heard of was what they called New Yorkers. A regular item at the bakery we were buying from, I’ve still not found anyone outside the area who knows them, nor have I really found any history about them. Soft, square in shape, onion rolls, filled in the center with a generous dose of dark roasted onions and plenty of poppy seeds.

It’s not hard to imagine rolls like this as a part of the baking of poverty in Eastern European Jewish towns. Onions were readily available in northern climates and could be grown by almost anyone interested. Unlike more expensive spices like cinnamon, poppies grew locally and seeds were plentiful. It seems reasonable that Eastern European Jews who came to the U.S. would likely have brought them along. And they do seem to resemble the now famous onion rolls from the classic New York restaurant, Ratner’s.

This weekend we’ll be doing a Special Bake of these great old-school New Yorker Onion Rolls. Terrific just eaten out of hand. Great with lots of butter or the Creamery’s handmade Cream Cheese. I think they’re wonderful for egg sandwiches—either a fried egg, or scrambled eggs (even better still if you do it with the salami and eggs I wrote up a few months ago, or smoked salmon and eggs). Since I love poppy seeds, I might just spread on some cream cheese and then throw an extra handful of seeds in the middle before I eat.

I’m also thinking about toasting one, rubbing it with a bit of bacon fat, and then sprinkling on a bunch of Hungarian paprika! The New Yorkers are great for burgers or the BLTs that will soon be in season as well. In fact, thinking back to a story that I rarely remember to tell, making a BLT on a New Yorker was a regular morning treat for me back when we opened the Deli. Buy a bag of New Yorker Onion Rolls and start some family stories of your own!

New Yorker Onion Rolls will be at the Bakeshop July 1st through the 4th and at the Deli July 1st and 2nd.

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