This light and chewy Italian flatbread has a taste that lingers! Its really easy and practically bakes itself. Read my instructions if you’re scared of yeast and bake a perfect loaf at home!
You have a frozen dough ball, what do you do with it? Something quick and satisfying? Focaccia bread is your answer. This Italian flatbread is really easy to make, much like a pizza minus the cheese. Its so versatile that you can top it with almost anything and everything and it will still be great.
My first attempt at bread making was a huge disaster. I was (and still am) an amateur baker. I had no clue of what I was doing and took upon the job of baking an onion bread. Let’s just say there’s not one thing I did right and I ended up wasting half a kilo of perfectly caramelized onions. That’s the bit that hurts me the most. My beautiful caramelized onions went to the trash and there was nothing I could do about it. I tried my best to savor that raw translucent piece of dough but to no avail. The onions were making it taste great but that bread wasn’t edible. It had to thrown away.
That was 3 months back and for the past three months, or the major part of it at least, I didn’t revisit the idea of bread making. I was convinced that baking breads is a talent that people are born with and I just wasn’t one of those lucky people. As heartbreaking as it was, I accepted it and moved on with my life of baking cakes, cookies and cooking. I love baking cakes and cookies and it gives me a sense of satisfaction but there was still a void in my heart that just wasn’t filling up and I knew exactly what I needed to satisfy my baking addiction. I had to bake bread, not just bread but a perfect one at that to gain my confidence back.
I researched and researched like a maniac. My Google search history that entire day was only one thing “How to bake a perfect loaf?”. I read a lot of things on the internet and almost all of them were pointing to one really important fact of bread making: good quality YEAST and that’s when it struck me, my yeast wasn’t the best quality but how would I know that, it was my first time baking a bread. I was only following a recipe which didn’t say a word about high quality yeast. So after much self convincing I gathered the courage to bake garlic breadsticks, this time with the best quality of active dry yeast I could find and to my surprise, they turned out perfectly. I realized it’s really important to take care of three things while baking breads: High quality yeast, Kneading until the dough is springy and waiting until the dough doubles in size. If you ace these three things, you can bake just about any bread in the world. Many would argue and suggest you to make a simple loaf the first time your baking to avoid disappointment but I disagree. Bake what you want, as long as you take great of these three KEY factors, you cannot go wrong.
I’m glad that my baking disaster days are behind me because I bake edible breads now and they also taste
good great! My twisty garlic breadsticks and my veggie pizza are some of my experiments gone right and I can proudly say I bake great breads! My first experiment gone wrong was a caramelized onion bread, I loved the flavor so now that I knew the basics, I decided to bake that again. I was not disappointed. The flavor was like I remembered, I was glad that this time I could actually relish it, unlike last time. This caramelized onion focaccia bread has a taste that lingers long after you’re done eating it. This bread really, in all true forms and senses, celebrates the flavor of the onions. Your mouth doesn’t stink of onions so that’s another plus 😉 You can enjoy this bread before meals, as appetizers in bite sized pieces, with dinner or like I do..just about anytime, any day only to satisfy your cravings. If you have the dough frozen, you don’t really have to do anything, only bake it for 25 minutes and dig in! But if you’re making the dough fresh, fear not, its really not difficult. I will walk you through every step and as long as you follow them meticulously, you will not go wrong!
Caramelized Onion Focaccia Bread
Makes: 2 Focaccia Breads (10×6 inches)
Prep Time: 2 hours -2 hours 15 minutes (including dough resting time)
Baking Time: 20-25 minutes
For the dough:
- Good Quality Active Dry Yeast, 2 1/2 teaspoons
- Lukewarm Water, 1 1/3 cup* (or 360 ml)
- All Purpose Flour, 3 1/2 cups (or 440 grams)
- Olive Oil, 2 tablespoons** and extra for brushing
- Salt, 1 teaspoon
- Sugar, 1 tablespoon for the dough + 1/2 teaspoon to activate yeast
- Cornmeal for dusting (optional, You can use normal flour instead but cornmeal has a much better taste)
For the Caramelized Onion Topping (for 1 focaccia)
- Red Onions, sliced, 2
- Olive Oil, 1-2 tablespoons
- Garlic, chopped, 4-5 cloves
- Sugar, 1 teaspoon
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Make the Dough: Activate the yeast. To activate the yeast, add in the ½ teaspoon of sugar to the lukewarm water in a jar and mix until dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, sprinkle the yeast and mix until somewhat dissolved. At this point, cover the jar with plastic wrap or cling film tightly and let it sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes you will notice that the surface of the water will appear foamy and the yeast will be completely dissolved. If none of these happen, it is possible that you killed the yeast (water too hot) or the yeast didn’t wake up (water too cold). Read the post above to learn how to deal with yeast.
- In a bowl, sift together flour, salt and add in the olive oil and 1 tablespoon sugar and mix. Now add in the foamy yeast water and make it into a ball of dough.
- Toss this ball onto a floured surface and start kneading by hand (7-10 minutes) or mixer (7 minutes). I normally set a timer for 7-8 minutes; by that time my dough is normally smooth and springy. If it’s I knead until it is, which could take another couple of minutes. To learn about kneading dough, read the post above.
- Once the dough is nice and springy, lightly oil it and place it in a large bowl that has been lightly oiled too for about 1-2 hours until your dough doubles up in size. Mine usually take 1 hour 10 minutes but it is normal for the dough to take up to 2 hours depending upon the quality of your yeast.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it a few times to release air. Divide the dough into two balls and place them in separate bowls, lightly covered for 10 minutes. At this point you can freeze the balls to be used later. Freezing and thawing details are given at the end of the post.
- After the 10 minutes are up, the dough is ready to be used. Flatten the ball out with a rolling pin until about ½ an inch thick. Transfer the dough to your baking tray sprinkled with olive oil and cornmeal. Brush a little olive oil all over the surface and poke the dough using your fingers to prevent bubbling and let it rest for 15 minutes before you apply the toppings.
- Make the topping :Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for about 10-15 minutes and simultaneously cook your onions. Heat oil in a pan and add in the onions. Lower the heat, add in the sugar and let the onions cook for about 15 minutes until the onions have browned a little, stir occasionally to avoid sticking. Season with salt and pepper and add in the garlic and mix.
- Assemble :Once the 15 minutes are up spread the onion topping evenly over the surface and bake on a lower rack for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius, until the base and top has browned a little.
Season a little with salt and pepper and enjoy hot!
Freezing : If you decide to save half of the dough to be enjoyed later, simply coat it with oil lightly and place it in a ziplock or airtight bag and freeze until required.
Thawing: When you’re ready to use the dough, Transfer the frozen dough ball bag from the freezer to the refrigerator and keep it there overnight or for 12 hours. When you’re ready to bake the bread, place the dough outside on the kitchen counter 30 minutes before baking or until it reaches room temp. Continue with step 6. The dough balls freezes well for 3 months.
Write to me for any queries!