This is another uncomplicated, but delicious bread. And how can this not be good with almost two pounds of onions slowly sautéed in butter as a topping?!
I usually put the dough after its first rise in the fridge overnight. I do believe the flavor gets better with longer fermentation. And besides, it’s nice to have the dough made in advance and only shape the bread the day you need it.
Makes one about 10 to 11-inch round focaccia
- 1 cup warm water (105 to 115F)
- ¾ tsp active dry yeast
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ½ cups (340gr) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 ½ lbs (about 3 large) red onions, sliced very thinly
- Salt, freshly ground pepper, and a bit of sugar for seasoning
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil for brushing the crust
- ½ cup shredded taleggio, stracchino, or fresh mozarella cheese
The dough can be prepared in advance and kept refrigerated for a couple of days.
In the mixer bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Cover the bowl; place it into a warm place for 10 minutes, until the yeast mixture is foamy. Stir in the olive oil. Whisk together the flour and salt and then gradually add to the yeast mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until combined.
Attach the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and knead at medium speed for 3 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, be soft, velvety, and slightly sticky. Transfer the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place into a warm place to rise, for about 2 hours or until doubled. After this, you can punch the dough down and keep it covered in the refrigerator for 2 days. Bring to room temperature before forming.
Sauté the onions in butter over low heat until they are soft and translucent, about 40 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, sugar. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Cool.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a long log. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and join the two ends to make a ring about 8 to 9 inches in diameter, keeping the hole in the center as open as possible. Pinch the ends together firmly. Cover with oil-sprayed plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
At least 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, set the baking stone (if you have one) in the oven and preheat the oven to 400F. When the dough is fully risen, gently pile the onions on top of the ring, and slide the parchment off the baking sheet and onto the baking stone (if not using the stone, just place the baking sheet in the oven). Bake for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375F, brush the exposed surface with some more olive oil, and bake for another 15 minutes or so, until golden and slightly crispy. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately slide off the parchment to cool until warm on a rack. The bread is the best the day it’s made.
Adapted from Carol Field