Knead Me – Rosemary and Caramelized Onion Loaf

Pasta and bread were two of my main food groups as a kid. A giant bowl of pasta with a side of bread? Yes please! I still do it to this day and I’m not even Italian.  I will often times have a dinner that is solely bread and olive oil maybe a little bit of cheese — if I’m feeling fancy.  Perhaps I am secretly Southern European and in no way Irish other than consumption of Guinness and having red hair. Okay, AND an Irish last name AND pale skin with freckles. Fine. I’m not Italian.

Anyway, if I were ever to go on Atkins or the South Beach Diet I would surely flounder and fall off the wagon in about 2 days.   Fortunately for me, my love for starchy goodness is offset with a love for working out…sometimes…So, forget the cupcakes, cookies, and other sweets and give me a french baguette. There’s nothing in this world more delicious for breakfast than a warmed piece of bread with a hunking glob of Nutella. Yum. Okay maybe I should just stop while I am ahead.

So, after watching one of my roommates pull a five month old bag of pitas from the pantry without a trace of mold I had a moment of clarity. WHAT have I been eating all this time?! Nothing but chemicals and preservatives. Gross.  Have you ever read the ingredients on the back of a bread bag? If not, you should do it now and never EVER buy it again. If you insist on buying bread buy from a local bakery. Help support small biz AND get those chemicals out of your body. Win-win!

While my first attempts at bread-making (I might try to blame this recipe) are somewhat inconsistent I will continue to work at this until I am a bread master.  While it looks rather simplistic this recipe requires a lot of attention to measurements, kneading, and temperatures. I tried this recipe for the first time over a week ago with two rather dense boules that looks more like implants than bread.  The taste was good, the texture was meh, and it was as dense as a Valley Girl. Ok, let’s try it again. I made two loaves on Tuesday night hoping that I would correct whatever mistakes I made the first time around.

Rosemary and Caramelized Onion Loaf

The recipe is adapted from “Delicious Rosemary Bread”

1/2 white or yellow onion thinly sliced

1 Tbsp white sugar

1 cup warm water

1 (.25 oz.) package active dry yeast

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp butter, softened

2 Tbsp rosemary (If you use dried rosemary use a few teaspoons instead)

1 tsp Italian seasoning

3 cups bread flour (I used regular all purpose flour which could have been why it sucked)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 egg, beaten (I excluded this step the second time. It didn’t appeal to me nor did I have fresh eggs)

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  • Get the onions ready by heating up some oil in a pan, allow onions to slightly brown then add a splash of balsamic vinegar to promote the caramelizing process. After they have achieved a glossy shade of brown remove from the heat and allow to cool before chopping.
  • Dissolve  sugar in warm water in a medium bowl, mix in  yeast. As the yeast foams and bubbles mix in salt, butter, 1 tablespoon rosemary, cooled onions, (with a few reserved for later) and Italian seasoning. Mix in 2 cups flour then work in last cup to create  a workable dough,  knead 10 to 12 minutes. **This step is critical. You really do need to knead (hehe) the bread to form the gluten. I personally think I keep screwing this step up some how. If you’d like to see a tutorial I found this one useful via Epicurious: Kneading Bread Dough
  • Brush a larger bowl with olive oil and put the dough ball inside. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 1 hour in a warm location. (I’m not sure how “warm” warm is but I set the bowls near the stove and oven while I was cooking)
  • After an hour, punch the dough down and take out of bowl (The original recipe says to make into two balls but I wanted a large loaf). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and shape dough into 1 loaf approximately 8 in. long, and place on the baking sheet. If you want to sprinkle more rosemary or any other topping such as the caramelized onions I had left this is the time to do it. Cover, and allow to rise 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  • Brush loaves with egg (I brushed with olive oil and sprinkled on sea salt)  and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

I found that my loaves needed to be around 400 degrees and about 25 minutes but again that could be my oven so keep an eye on yours when nearing the 20 minute mark.

For some reason the second attempt at the Rosemary loaf was great but when I experimented with using olives and garlic in another I was yet again left with a dense carbo-brick. (It won’t stop me from eating it though. It’s tasty when toasted)

If you have any tips for getting your bread to rise please let me know. I wasn’t sure if it was the kneading or allowing the bread to rise in a very warm place instead of my kitchen counter such as the oven on low heat.

**Variation**  : I made a second loaf using chopped Kalamata olives and four diced cloves of garlic. This loaf fell a little flat but delicious nonetheless. It is pictured alongside the Rosemary/Onion loaf in the pictures above.


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