Meatless Monday – Caramelized Onion and Herb Focaccia


I know we are all trying to stick to our New Year’s resolutions, but sometimes you can’t help but crave carbs. Let’s call it a cheat day. If you’re gonna splurge, give this Caramelized Onion and Herb Focaccia a try. The crisp, herb and onion coated crust gives way to a tender and chewy crumb that doesn’t even to be dipped in olive oil.

Makes 1 large focaccia that fits a half sheet pan.

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
2 cups water, room temperature
7 to 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ cup olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon kosher or flake salt
4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 large onion, julienned

In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir the yeast and warm water together. Let this mixture stand until the yeast blooms and take on a creamy color and texture, about 8 minutes.

Add this yeast mixture to the bowl of a large stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook, then add the rest of the water, 7 cups of flour, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons minced rosemary. Start the machine on the lowest setting and mix until the dough begins to form a ball. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium and allow the dough to knead for 5 minutes (if the dough looks very sticky, add another ½ to 1 cup of flour). Lift the dough hook from the ball, flip the dough, then reinsert the dough hook and knead on medium speed for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the dough looks smooth and elastic.

Place another ¼ cup olive oil into a large bowl and then lift the dough from the mixer and form it into a ball. Place the ball into the bowl and coat the exterior with the olive oil by turning it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the dough into a refrigerator for 6 to 12 hours; punching it down to redistribute the yeast every 4 to 6 hours.

Pour ½ cup olive oil onto a half sheet pan and then add the ball of dough to the center. Gently press the dough down (it will not fill the pan at this time) then allow it to come to room temperature for 1 hour under plastic wrap. Press or stretch the dough once again until it almost fits the pan – it will be easier at this point. Cover with plastic wrap once more and allow to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Evenly distribute the remaining salt, minced rosemary, oregano, and garlic, then top with the julienned onions. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a thermometer reads 190 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted into the center. The edges of the bread and onions will be very dark.

Drizzle the focaccia with the last ¼ cup of olive oil then transfer the bread to a baking rack and allow it to cool completely before slicing.

This large focaccia loaf freezes wonderfully if you want to save some for later carb cravings.