Onion Focaccia

Onion Focaccia

Onion Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread similar in style and texture to pizza, topped with oodles of caramelized onions and herbs.

I simply love this sweet, caramelized onions focaccia bread and I am sure that it will make your heart sing too! This focaccia recipe is plush and chewy at once, fragrant with herbs, and almost hearty enough to center a whole meal around thanks to the pile of caramelized onions on top. I like to think of it as a slightly lighter pizza with onion topping and without a lot of fuss. There is definitely something meditative, ‘dimpling’ the onion focaccia bread especially when it is topped with onions.

Focaccia is meant to be simple, but recipes always make it sound much more elaborate than it really is. I have done lots of research on perfect focaccia over the years and I find there are 3 key things while making the focaccia.
The dough is quite similar to pizza dough and needs moist dough with ideally a minimum of 70% hydration. Another crucial step is to be extremely generous with the olive oil. Pretty much every step of focaccia making involves olive oil. Olive oil should be in the dough, used to grease the baking sheet, and the bread is brined before it goes in the oven. Lastly one needs to be uber patient and let it rest a long time (8-24 hours after the initial kneading) so the flavour can develop. This crucial step will allow for adequate fermentation, which in turn will guarantee superior (non-yeasty) flavour.
The proofing for 8-24 hours although helps in developing the flavours, sometimes I just fancy a home baked focaccia and do not have so much time in hand and hence try and proof as long as I can.

My onion focaccia is a fuss free recipe of a perfectly soft, fluffy and satisfyingly chewy focaccia with sweet onions, sprinkled with lots of dried herbs.

Ingredients

1 cup (225ml) lukewarm water
1 teaspoon dried yeast
2½ cups plain flour (or more as needed to form the dough)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

For The Onion Topping
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 finely sliced onions
Salt to taste

For Finishing the Focaccia
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried herbs

Directions

Step-1

In a bowl mix the water, yeast and honey. Allow the mixture to sit for few minutes until frothy. Add the oil.

Step-2

Add one cup of the flour and mix to make a smooth paste. Then add the salt and the rest of the flour. Continue mixing until you have an elastic and just slightly sticky ball of dough. You may need to add in a little bit more flour, but the key is to remember that the dough should be slightly sticky and hydrated.

Step-3

Grease a large bowl and gently scrape the dough into it. Turn the dough to coat it in oil. Cover the bowl and a let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled for 1-2 hours.

Step-4

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and drizzle a good pour of olive oil on a parchment. Then scoop the dough onto the parchment. Flatten the dough out into a roughly rectangular shape with your hands, until it thinly and evenly covers the entire surface of the baking tray.

Cover the dough again and let it rest in a warm place for 1-2 hours to rise (or overnight in the fridge if you have the time and patience).

Step-5

Heat oil in a pan and add the onions and salt. Sauté and cook the onions for 6-7 minutes on medium heat till they soften slightly. Keep aside to cool.

Step-6

Preheat oven to 200C/ 180C Fan/Gas 6.

Mix the oil and water in a cup. Spread the room temperature onion topping on the flattened dough and then pour the oil/water mixture all over the onions and dough. Spread it over the surface of the dough with the palms of your hands if needed. Now pressing the tips of your fingers, create little dimples all over the surface of the dough (it does not matter if some onions go in the holes). Sprinkle the dough with the dried herbs.

Step-7

Bake the onion focaccia in the pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes, until it is golden brown on top.

Let the onion focaccia cool for couple of minutes before serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tips & Variations

  1. I prefer using honey as it gives a delicious flavour to the focaccia. Sugar works fine too.
  2. Rising times may vary according to the weather. When temperature is cooler, the initial rise may take 3 hours rather than 2, in warmer weather, you may find 90 minutes sufficient. Of course, you can always let the dough go a bit longer if you like, as it only helps to develop taste.
  3. You will want to see the dough rather nicely puffed up, after the second rise. The risen dough helps in making deeper dimples, which lets the oil and water mixture to puddle, giving the focaccia its characteristic look and taste.
  4. While making the holes the pressure must be marked (without breaking the dough, however) and as much as possible parallel to the surface. Make lots of holes and close to each other.
  5. I prefer to use red onions due to their pungent taste; white/brown onions work brilliantly too in this recipe.
  6. The secret of focaccia is the emulsion of oil, water and salt that you spread abundantly on the surface before baking. Do not worry if it seems a lot, it evaporates during baking and allow the holes to remain during cooking.
  7. Oil plays an especially important role in the focaccia as it provides crispness and flavour to the finished crust. Oil also helps in enhancing the volume of the dough. I prefer using the best quality of olive oil while making the focaccia as it provides a pronounced and distinctive flavour to the finished crust. I have also used avocado oil or garlic olive oil and they taste great too! You can add vegetable oil, but it will taste bland and impart little, if any, flavour to the finished crust.

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