Sundried Tomato and Caramelized Onion Focaccia

from Emily (who loves food)

This bread is fantastic. Best bread I’ve made to-date.

Moist, slightly chewy, with a light as air center and a sweetly caramelized topping, dotted with tomatoes and a hint of Parmesan.

I’d send you all some, if I could

Most of you have probably encountered focaccia before – you can find it in most supermarkets, and in most bakeries. A bit like pizza, it’s a soft, yeasty dough topped with… well, whatever you like really. However, you’re not supposed to pack on the toppings like you are with a pizza – the thick layer of slightly chewy bread needs to shine through. Traditionally, the Italians just topped it with olive oil and salt, though you often find it dotted with olives.

Or, like I’ve done, with caramelized onion and sundried tomatoes: always a winning combo.

It’s been a pretty dreary day, and on dreary days, it’s best to get cooking.

Somehow, the grey weather always inspires me to get stuck into some bread. Maybe it’s because the smell of bread is somehow warming on it’s own, or perhaps it’s just that the absence of sun makes me crave comfort food.

Either way, bread results.

That, and finishing off the end of my Christmas shopping. Done, dusted, sorted. Now I can save money for december’s exploits without having gifts looming over my head. Most of it, I’ll admit, I did online (urban outfitters, my savior) because it’s so much easier and arrives to your door in a big brown box with your name on it.

Not that I’m not thrilled about christmas coming up – it’s my favorite holiday. Gifts. Pretty things. Happy people. Oh, and christmas baking. Look out little blog, soon you’ll be riddled with cookies and pies and practice desserts.

But back on track: for this bread, I used Barker’s Onion Jam – a fantastic little preserve we get here in New Zealand. You could substitute your favorite onion jam, or failing that, increase the 1/2 and onion to a whole one, and just use that.

 

 

Sundried Tomato and Caramelized Onion Focaccia - Makes 1 13x9in loaf

Prep time: 2 hours  Cook time: 15mins

  • 2 tsp (one 8g packet) dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm (body temperature) water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 1/2 cups high-grade bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 3 – 4tbs Onion Jam/Preserve
  • 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 tsp grated Parmesan
  • shake of dried rosemary

In a smallish bowl, stir together the warm water and honey, then sprinkle over the yeast. Leave for 10mins to allow it to get nice and foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted, mix the flour, salt and olive oil. Make a well in the centre, and pour in the yeast mixture, stirring to roughly combine. Fit the dough hook to the mixer, and knead for 7-10mins (alternatively, knead by hand on a floured surface for 9-12mins). The dough will feel silky, soft and light. It may be a bit sticky. It should form a kind of puddle in your hands, not a stiff ball.

Wipe clean the mixing bowl, and lightly oil it. Place the dough back inside, then cover with a damp tea-towel and pop it in a warm place to double in size for at least one hour.

Once it’s proofed, remove the dough and place it in a 9x13in backing dish (brownie pan) lined with non-stick baking paper. Stretch it out gently until it reaches the endges, and has a fairly even surface. Using your fingers, pull about 12 uniformly placed, pea-sized holes in the dough. This will stop the top bubbling.

Drizzle 2tbs of olive oil ontop of the dough, and cover it again with the tea-towel, leaving it to rise for a further 20mins.

While it’s doing this final rise, heat the oven to 230C.

Take the sliced onion, and place it in a frypan/skillet on medium-low heat with 1tbs of oil. Allow to caramelize, stirring very regularly, while you wait for the dough to rise (10-15mins). They’re finished when they’re golden-brown in colour, and fragrant. Remove from heat.

Spread the onion jam over the top of the focaccia dough, then sprinkle the rosemary and the Parmesan cheese (avoid using too much cheese – you just want a hint of it!) Scatter over the onions.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 10 mins.

Remove, and add the sundried tomatoes: just push them onto the top.

Place back in the oven, and back for a further 5 – 8mins or until golden brown, with a firm exterior and a springy interior.

Immediately remove from the pan so that it doesn’t continue to cook.

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