Nov 8, 2016

Sourdough Onion Pockets | #BreadBakers

I have wanted to make this Onion Pocket Bread for a long time, so when my friend David adapted it to include a sourdough starter, I couldn't put it off any longer. I'm so glad I made these. They are delicious, and a pleasure to make. 

Sourdough onion pocket bread.

These Onion Pockets were by far the most popular item at a New York City kosher dairy called Ratner's, which opened in 1905, and closed in 2004. They were served with a small bowl of butter, and according to Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg, the authors of Inside the Jewish Bakery, "..Jews from all over the New York metropolitan area would go to Ratner's just for the rolls."

Sourdough onion pocket bread.

They are made with an enriched and slightly sweet dough, and filled with reconstituted dehydrated chopped onions as well as poppy seeds. The onions add such a sweet toasty flavor, and the aroma is unbelievable.

Making these rolls requires some advance planning. You will need to feed your starter about 8 to 10 hours prior to mixing the final dough, and then allow the final dough to proof for 2 to four hours. If you want to speed up the process, you can add about a half teaspoon of instant yeast to the final dough to give it a little insurance.

Note: While these rolls are leavened by a sourdough starter, they do not taste "sour" at all. This is a sweet egg dough, with an amazing texture. This dough is such a pleasure to work with (yes, I'm a bread geek). If you don't have a starter, you can make a poolish, a 50/50 mixture of flour and water, with a pinch of yeast. If you'd like to do a "straight dough" version, be sure to get the book, Inside the Jewish Bakery. It's a wonderful source for traditional Jewish bakery recipes, and the book is filled with stories about the history behind the breads.

Sourdough onion pocket bread.

This month, the Bread Bakers group is baking Breads with root vegetables. We have onions, beets, taro root, carrots, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and even recipes with ginger in the list of breads from our wonderful group. After the recipe, be sure to check out what our amazing bakers created.

Sourdough Onion Pockets

Sourdough Onion Pockets



  • 192 grams water
  • 77 grams eggs (about 1 1/2 eggs)
  • 50 grams vegetable oil
  • 560 grams bread flour
  • 77 grams sugar
  • 2 grams (1/2 tsp) instant yeast (optional)
  • 112 grams levain/sourdough starter
  • 11 (2 tsp) grams salt


  • 45 grams (1/2 cup) dehydrated chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 14 grams (1 tablespoon) vegetable oil
  • 10 grams (1 1/2 tsp) black poppy seeds
  • 4 grams (1/4 tsp) salt


  1. Feed your levain/sourdough starter about 8 to 10 hours before mixing the final dough.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the egg and the oil lightly into the water. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together (by hand) the flour, sugar, and optional yeast.
  3. Add the liquids and the starter and mix with the dough hook for about 2 minutes on low. Add the salt, and continue to mix for about 10 minutes. Knead the dough by hand for about a minute. Form it into a ball and place it into an oiled bowl. Turn the dough to coat lightly with oil. Cover with plastic wrap.
  4. Let the dough rise for approximately 2 to 4 hours, until doubled.
  5. While the dough is rising, assemble the onion mixture.
  6. Add the boiling water to the onions, stir, and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain the onions with a strainer and spread them out on a paper towel to remove any additional moisture.
  7. Mix the onions, oil, poppy seeds, and salt, and divide into three equal parts. Set aside.
  8. When the dough is ready, degas it and gently knead it. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Roll each into two equal logs, about 12 inches long. Cover and let rest for about 20 minutes.
  9. Place the first log onto your work surface, wide side facing you. Using your rolling pin, roll the dough lengthwise, until it reaches about 18 inches. Next, roll the dough away and toward you to widen it. You should eventually have a 10 inch by 18 inch rectangle, and the long side should face you.
  10. Brush the top (to you) 2/3 of the dough with vegetable oil, and spread 1 portion of the filling (1/3) over the oil. Fold the bottom third of the dough over the filling, and fold the top 1/3 of the dough over the folded dough. You should end up with three layers. Seal the edges of the top layer onto the the dough over which it is folded. Set this strip of dough aside and repeat with the second log of dough.
  11. Spread the final third of filling over a piece of parchment and press each dough strip onto the filling to coat with filling. Place each strip onto a parchment lined baking sheet, filling side up. Press any extra filling onto the strips.
  12. Using a bench scraper, cut each strip into 6 pieces, and evenly space on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 to 2 hours, until it passes the "finger poke" test.
  13. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a baking stone, if you have one. When the rolls are ready, you can either bake them on the baking sheet, or slide the parchment onto the stone.
  14. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the rolls are mottled brown. Serve warm.
  15. Wrap leftovers individually in plastic wrap and freeze. After thawing, reheat in a toaster oven by toasting (ideally), or reheat in a 350 degree oven.
Recipe from my friend David, adapted with permission from Inside the Jewish Bakery. P.S. Stanley Ginsberg has a new book out, The Rye Baker. It is amazing. 

Yield: 12 Rolls

Here are the rest of the Bread Bakers' root vegetable breads: 
 #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to


  1. delicious. I would eat a couple of them

  2. Wow, this bread is just beautiful and look delicious! I'm going to be trying this one.

  3. Karen: these are too captivating to pass on : I am scrolling up and down the page ! ...

    but i am still an amateur baker so sourdough is way beyond my reach right now... and definitely bookmarked to try sometime

    1. Thanks Kalyani! You could always make a poolish instead =) and add some yeast to the dough...

  4. I like making sourdough bread, have a starter in the fridge, bookmarking this recipe, will try it soon.

  5. Onion Pockets looks great......... It must be a flavorful bread.....

  6. Lots of memories in those rolls! Ratner's was a frequent late night stop post CBGBs and Max's and I remember them well. You done 'em proud, my friend.

  7. Hello Karen, Your onion pockets are a beauty. They must be really delicious and flavourful. Sweet dough filled with slightly onions sound yum. I would love to try these :)

    1. Thanks Namita! They are really soft and flavorful.

  8. The onion pockets look so cute. Was wondering if I could use normal fresh onion instead of the dehydrated one.

    1. While I haven't tried using fresh onion, if you choose to try it, I would caramelize the onions first to a pale brown, and then squeeze out any excess moisture. I bet that would be delicious!

  9. Absolutely gorgeous Karen. Perfect enough to be sold in a Jewish deli.

    1. If you read the recipe in Inside The Jewish Bakery, there are two ways to make the filling with a fresh onion: you're grating and frying it. Of course, as you know, it doesn't use a sourdough starter. That's why I'm going to make your version. Looking forward to that.

  10. Lovely! I'm a sourdough gal, and this is right down my alley. Can you tell me what the hydration is on the starter? 100%?

  11. These look amazing!! Adding to the holiday baking list :)

  12. These remind me of onion rolls my grandmother used to make. They look so good! I'm excited to try them.

    1. I just discovered them Lisa, but all of my pals who grew up in NYC say they are the real deal.

  13. OMG those onion pockets look soooooo good -- which I could get them off of my screen :-) Bookmarking the recipe to try some time soon. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Such gorgeous rolls! I wish I could get a hold of some dried onions. I need to make these.


I would love to hear from you!